In September this year I spent two weeks in China. I have always wanted to see the Karst Mountain Peaks in Guilin, so I decided to make Lao Zai Shan (mountain) in Xing Ping my first stop.
I had arrived in Old Xing Ping Town on a bamboo raft river cruise, along the beautiful and majestic ‘Li Jiang River’. Taking in two hours of the most spectacular scenery, the still waters and Karst Mountain peaks had me gasping for air with every turn of my head; I was in total awe of the surrounding landscape.
With my feet back on solid ground and my suitcase stored away in my home-stay, I decided to have a guide lead me up to the top of Lao Zai Mountain for an evening sunset shoot, unbeknownst to me that the climb up the mountain was over 1000 steps along a very uneven path with steep rocks.
The weather was hot and humid and the air was still. Before what I assumed was the half way point, my t-shirt and shorts where drenched and sweat was continuously pouring from my body, taking into account I was carrying over 20kgs of camera gear and tripod on my back. My guide had gestured several times to help carry my gear, but I declined, thinking the climb would not be so arduous.
There was a stage in the climb where I gestured to my guide that I wanted to go back down, but he pointed his finger in an upward direction and somehow assured me we had nearly reached to top, so on we marched.
Before reaching the top there is a 5 metre climb up a rickety old ladder, and trying to manoeuvre up and down with a camera bag and tripod in tow is very tricky and requires concentration. Once reaching the Pagoda, make sure you scramble up a little further over some rocks to get the best views, which are claimed to be the best in the region. Make no mistake about it, the views really are spectacular.
I climbed the Mountain twice during my 5 days in Xing Ping and will be heading back there in late April 2012, hoping for more atmospheric weather with mist and fog rising in the peaks.
Be sure to carry lots of water, and I do mean bucket loads, and a good telephoto lens to capture the layers of the Karst peaks. Sunset is the best view looking North over Xing Ping to Yangdi. If you need any advice or would like to join my tour next April, feel free to message me.