Xing Ping: Guangxi Province, China

Sep 26th 2010 at 7:54 AM

Xing Ping village has a history of 1,800 years. The magnificent Karst hills all around the town have been forever immortalized nationwide by being featured on the 20 Yuan note. It’s 25kms from the famous scenic town of Yangshuo.

The bend in the Li River at Xingping makes a perfect mooring area for boats & as the local tourist industry has grown, so has the amount tour boats. The most popular way to see the Li River is by raft. These rafts have small engines attached to them with seating for up to 6 people & shade to give protection from the sun & rain. Bigger boats, with roof top viewing decks carry maybe 50 passengers. The big tour boats from Guilin to Yangshuo pass by, but when the river level gets very low passengers have to alight in Xingping.

Traditionally rafts were made from bamboo, but are now made with PVC pipe making them a lot safer. Only rafts for personal use are still made with bamboo.

The area between Xing Ping & Yandi village is regarded as being the most beautiful part of the Li River. There is a walking track along the riverside for hiking which takes 3-4 hrs from Yangdi to Xingping or a raft ride is a very pleasant & easy way to view the scenery.

Many famous people have visited the area over the years, but none as famous as Bill Clinton with his daughter. He visited the nearby fishing village which still has authentic old style buildings plus photos of his visit. All famous visitors are taken to the fishing village.

The old part of Xingping town still retains authentic very old buildings which are protected by the local Government. The temple that is now a museum claims 1,800yrs of history & is open each day to paying visitors.

All the paving through the old area is very new making it a pleasant stroll. However it’s quickly blended into the landscape so visitors are barely aware that it’s new.

Many local people make their living from tourism which is on the rise. From owning mobile fridges to sell cold drinks, souvenir shops & stalls, restaurants, accommodation, there are opportunities here for many people. The boats & the mini buses all need drivers; one local man, who owns a citrus farm, makes wooden sole slip-on shoes which his girlfriend sells in her souvenir shop.

The YHA hostel is managed by a foreigner (Belgium) who also has the first Western style restaurant to open in the town. The hostel is advertised in all the right places so it’s well patronized. The owner has installed a wood fired pizza oven at the hostel which is very popular.

A man from South Korea, who has been here for three years, has a restaurant selling Korean food & a gift & clothing shop opposite it. He speaks very good English.

A 65yr old Japanese man has lived in Xingping for about 16 years. He has a Chinese wife & owns a hotel/restaurant that looks out over the main docking area on the Li River.

Along the riverside, many farmers have turned their homes into farmer’s restaurants. They have connections to the raft owners so they will recommend these restaurants to their passengers. Food is freshly prepared upon arrival so it’s relaxing time as you wait for your meal. Good time to enjoy a cold drink & lay back to watch the river activity.

The area is very famous for the cormorant fishing birds. They can easily be viewed around the riverside & during the evening there is a show where visitors can watch these birds at work by lamp light. However they are only a tourist attraction now as there is not enough fish in the river to make them commercially viable.

The local scenery is also well used by others. Professional photographers regularly come with their models to take photographs. Bridal parties get their wedding photos taken. Art students from various Art Colleges around China gather to practice their drawing skills. They come to stay for a few days & there can be up to 200 students at one time. They make quite an impact on the local industry.

Every three days it’s market day which is well patronized by the local folk who have been going to it all their lives. Many walk in from their small villages outside town, maybe carrying goods to sell. They are very small people so seem dwarfed by their shoulder poles carrying goods. The sidewalk medics, dentists & sellers of traditional medicine set up shop too. Every morning from sunrise till 8 am locals gather on the side of the street at the opposite end of the town to the market. They sell small amounts of fresh vegetables, meat & fish from their home farms. They are welcomed by me who only wants small amounts.

In the surrounding hills there are minority group villages. Some of them are the Zhuang, Hui, Yao, & Dong. They are very self sufficient & rarely come down to the town to trade. They wear their traditional clothes so they are easily recognized. Their children go to their local primary school, sometimes walking for 1-2 hrs each way. For middle school they move down to the town & board at school.

The town is well serviced by restaurants both Chinese & Western style. There are some big ones to cater to the many tour buses that come every day, rice noodle shops to cater for breakfasts & BBQ stands in the evenings.

I recently moved to Xingping & opened an Art Gallery in the old town opposite the temple. I sell oil paintings of the spectacular local scenery. My gallery is in a very old building so rustic would best describe its look. With it came a drink bar so I sell takeaway hot & cold drinks. I am the 4th foreigner to own a business in Xingping, but if the rapid development of the area continues I will not be the last for very long.

Welcome to Xingping.

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