The legendary novel of the English writer, James Hilton, Last Horizon, impresses readers with the Shangri-la paradise characterized by snow-capped mountains, vast grasslands, lush vegetation, gorgeous gorges and idyllic lakes. Shangri-la has been a dream for many, and you can find a real Shangri-la not far from Guilin. The place showcases a natural paradise, which is surely impressive.
The first sight that visitors encounter is the Peach Pavilion, a five-story structure with a view platform at the top. A willow-shaded narrow trail leads to idyllic Swallow Lake, the largest tributary of the Yu Long River and an ideal drifting place. The narrow lake can be divided into three parts, the Outer Lake, the Inner Lake and the Back Lake. The river features crystal waters and impressive natural scenery. Cruise boats are available, and many visitors enjoy sailing on the gentle waters and enjoying the breath-taking natural beauty along the way.
On the lake stands a traditional building complex that is actually a roofed bridge, called the Wind-and-Rain Bridge. It is symbolic of the architecture of the Dong Minority people living in this area. The structure is made of wood, and was elegantly erected without even one nail. Through the bridge and along a path are larger Totem Pillars.
Totem Pillars are symbolic of the ethnical groups living in the remote southwest regions. These oddly carved stone pillars represent the primitive local religions and cultures that are still practiced by the minority people in the area.
If you are a folk art lover, you should not miss the display of folk customs in the Grand-view Garden. Various arts and crafts and local souvenirs are shown here, and performances featuring ethical dances and songs are presented. Visitors can also experience the traditional throwing-love-ball tradition of the Zhuang people, who mainly live in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The gracefully embroidered ball is considered a symbol of love by the Zhuang. In their community, when a girl falls in love with a boy, she will give her beloved one an embroidered ball as a token of her love. In the park, a girl in traditional Zhuang costume will throw an embroidered ball from a building to welcome visitors from afar.
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I updated this article on February 27, 2014
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