Bob and I planned to arrive a couple of days ahead of the meeting to do some sightseeing on our own. Sunday, April 14 was our first day there, and with no church meetings available, we walked around town to acquaint ourselves with the area. Our hotel was on the river and the entire landscape was delightfully lush and green. The weather was a welcome change from the chill of Seoul, with highs in the 70's, but with a bit too much humidity. Elephant Hill Park is one of the city highlights, and it features a rock formation that resembles and elephant drinking from the Li river. The park encompassed a large area offering steep stair step hikes up the mountain as well as picturesque leisurely walks along the river. After working up a sweat climbing the peak, we opted to return to the hotel and relax by the pool. That's the first suntan we've received in a long time!
After dinner, we walked to Solitary Peak and the Prince City Scenic Area. This was the source of the thousand year old saying "East or west, Guilin scenery is best." As you would guess, a lone peak rises in the center of the city, around which was built the Chengyun Palace for princes of the Ming Dynasty to handle political and military affairs around 1372 AD. Here is found a Confucius Temple, a Chinese Imperial examination hall, a "Peace Cave" where statues of the Emperor and 60 "Jiazi" Guardian Gods reside and other historical buildings and artifacts. The Prince City area is currently the home of a quaint community university. A hike to the top of Solitary Peak provided a sneak peek of our glorious scenic surroundings.
Interesting to note, is that the area where Bob and I were photographed on the shore, is the landscape scene printed on the Chinese 20 Yuan paper money. Also, the local fishermen traditionally use authentic bamboo rafts for their fishing expeditions on the river. To assist them in their efforts, they use Cormorants - birds which they have trained to fish for them. We found a fisherman on the side of the river and paid him to let us pose for a few photos with him. He told our guide that a few weeks previously, a bunch of super models had joined him there for a professional photo shoot. He was quite the character and loved all the attention. He captured the essence of the Li River fisherman perfectly!