Xingping, China

After several days in Yangshuo, we packed up our bags and jumped on a bus to Xingping. We really had no idea what to expect, but it looked smaller than the surrounding towns, on the map it was near a river, and we knew it was in a beautiful area, so why not?

Xingping was established as a town over 1,500 years before colonists would declare the United States a new nation. One of the joys in traveling for me is giving my kids context to where they fit in world history and western civilization. Xingping is an ideal location to let the concept of how young the US is as a nation sink in their minds.We stayed at This Old Place Hostel, which had an incredible view from the roof and delicious pizza. I leaned over the table to snap a few photos of the kids Face-timing friends back home. Chris later told me he was in the hostel lobby and looked up at the security video screen to see my booty filling it. Evidently, there was a camera behind me. Poor 20-something backpackers hanging out in the lobby at that time!
We only had a day and an evening in Xingping. It was a little difficult picking what to do. The area has tons of hikes along the Li River, but most were long for little legs and short time. We opted for a shorter 45-minute hike up one of the Karst mountains to get a bird’s eye view of the town – called the Bird’s View Pavilion hike.

I’m always telling my kids to pay close attention to locals to learn what is appropriate and acceptable behavior. Shirtless men – everywhere. Two of my boys asked to take their shirts off for the hike (so hot and humid!) and reminded me that is was culturally acceptable and appropriate. I had to agree.
We were dripping sweat…like puddles under us.Shortly after I took that photo, we climbed back down the mountain and wandered the streets below. As we turned a corner, I saw a young mom holding her baby boy. My eyes locked on his cleft lip and the world stopped. Through google translator we learned a bit of her story and the obstacles she faces in getting her son surgery. Our random stroll through a little Chinese town was anything but random. We have her contact info and I’m about to burst with anticipation of figuring out how to help her sweet boy get a needed surgery.

My mountain top view was found on a little market street below.
In regards to our travel schedule, I do wish we had planned another day in Xingping. I think 2 full days and nights would be an ideal amount of time to see a good chunk of the area. Though it is not nearly as touristy as Yangshuo, there is still a strong tourism industry. For instance, as you stroll along the Li River you can pay fishermen to have their cormorants catch fish. (check out this article about this very spot). Entrepreneurship is flourishing in the Chinese tourism industry.A very short walk from the village is a scenic overlook for the landmark used on the 20 Yuan (like a $20). I had seen lots of pictures taken from the water, so I assumed the only good view of the location was from water. Very wrong. The free overlook provided a prime view!

Links for learning more about cormorant fishing:

Dying Art of Chinese Cormorant Fishing – in pictures

Wild China video clip of the cormorants fishing – this was shot where we were

Travel tips for visiting Xingping:

  • Based on looking at a map, we thought we could travel from Yangshuo to XingPing to Guilin. Turns out, you have to backtrack back to Yangshuo to get to Guilin – keep that in mind if you plan a trip to the area.
  • If coming from Guangzhou, get off on the Yangshuo stop (which is not actually in Yangshuo), then go to Xingping. From Xingping take a bus to Yangshuo, from Yangshuo take a bus to Guilin (and onto Longsheng Rice Terraces if you are us). If coming from Guilin, go in reverse. There is an option to take a boat from Guilin to Yangshuo, but we did not try that.
  • The market area closes around 5pm. We had planned to explore the shops at night like we did in Yangshuo. We ate a slow dinner and by the time we finished, everything was closed. If you want to visit the local shops and markets, do it before dinner.
  • If hiking in the spring/summer, bring bug repellent.
  • 1 day was okay, but we could have easily spent 2-3 days. A lot of the areas we traveled to via moped, could be access from Xingping. If we stayed in Xingping longer, we would have taken mopeds out on the smaller roads leading to other villages.
  • If you want more of a city feel and western amenities…Xingping probably is not for you. If you want more local and less tourism…go for Xingping.

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