We stayed at our friend Eric and Maarten's House, nicknamed Laojia, a beautiful Qing Dynasty house that they have spent the last 2 year restoring. For how incredibly remote it was, it was actually relatively easy to get to. The flight from Shanghai to Guilin was purchased one week before, for only $110 and took 2.5 hours. Then we just caught a cab from the airport and drove 1.5 hours for a fare of $50. Then we took a 10 min boat ride and we were there. Door to door I would say it was about 5 hours. If you really want somewhere secluded to write or reflect, hike or just be alone, I would definitely click on the link above and rent a room in the house.
I cannot help but feel a deep and sudden sadness when looking at the clumsy tractor trucks, or the piles of discarded red bricks and ready-made ceramic roof tiles. This village, like so many across China is wrought with a mite named modernity. A subtle and sneaky pest that even the barrier of the great Karst Mountains cannot even keep out. The beautiful river stones that were laid as streets are now covered by cement so that cards many drive more smoothly, or the shallow river ripples that are disturbed by the loud engines of rudimentary ferries. This is all easy for me to say, I romanticize these peoples' hardships; I call their hard farming lives an "honest day's work" and compare their life trajectory to Pearl Buck's stories. Development may be ugly, development may be eating away at the extraordinary history of banal mountain villages, but at the very least development feeds the families. Per Tizani, "The Chinese have never been metaphysicians, they have never believed in a transcendent god. For them, nature is all and it is from nature that they have drawn their knowledge and their beliefs." How can they forsake their green now?