!!!Guilin National Park

by [Stanislav Sedov|http://www.dmphoto.ru] and [Dmitry Moiseenko|https://www.facebook.com/dmitry.moiseenko]
members of the [AirPano Team|Geography/About/Consortium/AirPano,_Team] that is a member of the [global-geography Consortium|Geography/About/Consortium]. \\

We also want to thank Yuri Pustovoi for provided photographs.

28 June 2013

with kind permission of [AirPano|http://www.AirPano.com]

Guilin is one of the most interesting cities in China. It is famous for
its wonderful natural monuments and situated on the bank of Lijiang
river in the Southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Guilin's beauty
inspired people to give very poetic names to some of the local places of
interest, such as Seven Stars Park, Reed Flute Cave, Folded Brocade
Hill, and Green Lotus Peak. These are just a few of Guilin's sights.

[{Image src='01_Guilin mountains.jpg' caption='Guilin mountains' alt='' width='900' popup='false' height='449'}]

Guilin's history dates back more than 2000 years ago and it's a city
where natural monuments intertwine with man-made structures. In the
center of Guilin there is a 152-meter high Solitary Beauty Peak (Duxiu
Feng) with 300 steps leading to its summit. There are also ruins of a
royal complex that dates back to Ming dynasty and further to the south
there is Elephant Trunk Hill, that got its name due to its resemblance
to an elephant that drinks water.

[{Image src='02_The Sun and Moon Pagodas, city of Guilin.jpg' caption='The Sun and Moon Pagodas, city of Guilin' alt='' width='900' popup='false' height='423'}]

Lijiang river flowing through the city is very pure and transparent. In
the middle of the river stands Wave Subduing Hill (Fubo Shan) with a
Buddhist temple at the top. It houses unique objects, such as a 2.5 ton
bell and a kettle which can be used to cook food for one thousand

[{Image src='03_Night view to the pagodas of Sun and Moon.jpg' caption='Night view to the pagodas of Sun and Moon' alt='' width='900' popup='false' height='449'}]

Guilin's name is translated from Chinese as "Cassia Tree Forest".  Its
limestone pillars look like a giant stone forest.

Long time ago limestone stratum that makes up the hills was accumulated
at the bottom of the ancient sea. Several millions of years later this
part of Earth's crust went up due to large earthquakes. Subsequently
heavy showers and snow befell on this region, eroding the bedrock that
was already weakened by cracks and ruptures. Later the upper limestone
stratum fell off, exposing spired limestone trunks, which are considered
by modern scientists as exemplary ancient karstic rocks. Nowadays
limestone pillars of China's mountains are stretched from the South
Central China to the northern parts of Vietnam. Cliffs, which sometimes
can rise 100 meters above their base, stand almost vertically and
pressed against each other. You can see Guilin's austere ridge tops for
kilometers and kilometers away.

[{Image src='04_Karst mountains of Guilin.jpg' caption='Karst mountains of Guilin' alt='' width='900' popup='false' height='960'}]

You can assume that nothing can grow on a bald cliff. But Guilin's
mountains are the most picturesque mountains in the world. The whole
mountain ridge is covered with vines and small trees clinging to rocky
slopes. During orchid blooming season you can see a variety of
multicolored flower islands light up on the slopes. Hazy mountains and
still waters of Li River have a magical aura that inspired painters and
poets throughout centuries.

[{Image src='05_Karst mountains of Guilin.jpg' caption='Karst mountains of Guilin' alt='' width='900' popup='false' height='378'}]

Guilin's unusual, and, in the literal sense of the word, unearthly
landscape was chosen as one of the shooting areas for Star Wars. Episode
III. Revenge of the Sith.

And now let me turn the floor over to Satislav Sedov, who will share
some of his impressions about the trip.

We had to face our first serious challenge even before we arrived to
Guilin. The fact is that new air transportation rules stipulate that you
can't transport lithium batteries in the luggage. After we checked-in
they put our suitcases through an X-ray machine and asked us to take out
the batteries. Dima and I gathered all our batteries, put them in one
bag, and went to get through the security screening. As expected, there
were some complications during the screening: according to new rules you
can't transport even one battery of such capacity, and we had 16 of them
in our bag.

Katerina, our guide, switched on her "I can persuade anyone" mode, I
took out my phone with new panoramic photos of China and, somehow, we
managed to convince the security guys to let us on the plane with our
batteries. Katya asked me to pack everything quickly before someone from
the upper management saw our "goods".

[{Image src='06_Panorama of Guilin mountains.jpg' caption='Panorama of Guilin mountains' alt='' width='900' popup='false' height='960'}]

Having assembled the helicopter on the move, we decided to take some
mountain pictures right on the road. As a result we have very
interesting "hedgehogs" on our photos. During these test launches in
Guilin, Dima and I realized that we would have to take pictures from a
very high altitude, because low altitude photos couldn't show all the
beauty around us.

[{Image src='07_Bamboo raft on the Li River.jpg' caption='Bamboo raft on the Li River' alt='' width='900' popup='false' height='601'}]

The next day we arrived to the boat station. And there we almost fell
victim to an old tradition of screwing over Caucasian tourists to pay
double for outgoing boat freight. Our driver, a local girl, suggested
that we take her friends' boat, which was cheaper, and something
unimaginable happened after that. An old lady who worked as a boat
rental agent suddenly stopped being all nice and turned into an old hag:
she started spouting bitter curses against the girl, and it seemed like
she was about to clutch at her face. Such intrusive service made us
really uncomfortable, so we decided to go along with girl's suggestion
and hire her friends; at the end of her performance, the old hag shouted
out some ridiculous price with zero profit to her business. Apparently
out of principle.

[{Image src='08_Guilin mountains, on the Li river.jpg' caption='Guilin mountains, on the Li river' alt='' width='900' popup='false' height='542'}]

Later that day we were on a boat, sailing up the river. I should tell a
few words about those boats. The vessel is made of strapped sewer pipes
of large diameter with both ends curved slightly upwards. In the middle
there is a shed with shade for passengers. In the stern there is a motor
unit: a mower engine with a long shaft and a propeller on the end.

The vibrations and noise the vessel produced while moving was very high,
while the speed could be compared to a snail's pace. These boats seemed
like they would do quite well for our purposes, because the bow had
enough space for launching and landing our helicopter.

[{Image src='09_Fishermen on the Li river.jpg' caption='Fishermen on the Li river' alt='' width='900' popup='false' height='492'}]

Sailing slowly up the river, we pulled in to the shore at several key
locations. Chinese gave each mountain a name, which, more or less,
reflected their shape. Sometimes, when we couldn't reach the land, we
launched the helicopter right from the boat. Our equipment worked like a
clock, and thanks to that I had an opportunity to beat my own record at
high altitude flying with camera several times. I reached the mark of
524 meters. We decided not to go higher, because the haze in the valley
started to conceal the landscape's details.

[{Image src='10_Mountains near the Yangshuo city.jpg' caption='Mountains near the Yangshuo city' alt='' width='900' popup='false' height='320'}]

We finished shooting Guilin in the province capital under the same name.
There are two pagodas in the center of the city, they are symbols of
this place: The Sun Pagoda and the Moon Pagoda. There is a bridge
leading to one of them, and an underground tunnel leading to the other.
Unfortunately, we couldn't shoot the tunnel from our helicopter, but you
can see pagodas in a very good detail.

\\ \\
[18 Panoramas of Guilin National Park|Geography/Asia/China/Pictures/Panoramas_of_Guilin_National_Park]

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