China’s province of Guizhou: where if there are no tunnels – they bore some through!

From Beijing we flew into Guiyang (here), the capital of the Guizhou province (here). Though they call Guizhou a “third level” city, it still plays a key role for China’s economy – since here are located large logistical centers, plenty of other businesses and industries, plus… the largest data centers in the country. Which is why we paid a visit. Our annual Chinese partner conference also takes place here. But about that later. Today – tourism!…

Since Guizhou is mostly mountainous, the topography-geology of the province is off-the-scale beautiful, with the tourism built up around it correspondingly enormous in scale. It also holds records for the number of bridges and tunnels in the country.

For our portion of tourism while in the province, we were told we should get ourselves to Tianhetan for its waterfalls and caves (here), since it’s the one of the province’s most unusual places. Which turned out to be entirely true – with a twist…

How they present natural beauty (man-made beauty too, actually; more on this in a bit) is simply 10/10; and they probably learned how to do so a couple thousand years before everyone else too…

And they know how to do it in uncommonly extraordinary ways too ->

Ok. Now for some logistical aspects…

First – it’s not far from the city. Second – there seems to be no parking lot, so it’s best going there by taxi or with a driver. But… wait! Of course you’ll be in a taxi or with a driver (if you’re not a local) since foreigners can’t drive in China – unless they have a Chinese driving license, issued only in China!

So, said taxi/driver drops you off at the entrance, which turns out to be this here inevitably grandiose visitor center ->

Just in case you want to investigate the province yourself – here’s some info straight from the horse’s mouth (after all, such details can often be hard to find on the non-Chinese internet) ->

Once inside the grounds, tourists are shown various… installations before getting to the caves and waterfalls ->

Next comes a copy of a European town – populated by locals. And after that – assorted other buildings:

Next, one of two options needs choosing: either to wait half-an-hour to be transported to the caves, or to walk the kilometer-and-a-half with your own two feet. You can guess which I chose ). But that turned out to be the wrong decision, since it started to rain. We got rather wet before we purchased some disposable plastic raincoats along the way; but that turned out to be another wrong decision: I’d have preferred getting wet than getting hot and sticky under such a non-breathable outer garment. In short – advice: wait for the transportation!

The last stretch of the way to the (end of the line for the) caves is upon a river – yes, you need to take a small boat to get there! ->

The line for the boats took around 40 minutes, but it gave me the chance to dry out in the heat before the (presumably) cool and damp caves…

Once on the boat, off we popped! ->

We arrive at a portal:

It’s here where the funky lighting and music begin. We enter the tunnel, which they’ve dug out seemingly from one karstic grotto to another on the other side of the mountain.

The lighting’s really something:

The water tunnel is around two kilometers long:

The “fossils” on the walls – not real, but kind-of add something ) ->

You can tell that the tunnels are man-made – check out the smooth walls and the arches of the ceiling:

Blue to red to pink to… oh my grotto! ->

After 2000 meters of the most varied and brightly colored tunnel I’ve ever experienced, we return to the natural “light at the end of the tunnel” (literally) – shining down into the huge sinkhole we found ourselves in, reminiscent of Yucatan ->

…Into which poured a waterfall! ->

We moor the boat. Onward – for a further 2km+, this time of cave-walking:

Optical-illusion-esque projections on the water surface! ->

It was here I realized that everything here is man-made. Pretty convincing though, given that I only worked this out well into our stroll! ->

In all, an extraordinary sight to behold. However, to someone who’s seen plenty of real, natural karstic caves, it’s all a little bit strange…

Remember I’d reckoned it’d be cool and damp in the caves? Nothing could be further from the truth! It was both hot and very humid. Be prepared: dress lightly!

Ghosts or some such projected onto the still water surface ->

The final cave:

A photo with two Miao girls at the exit:

Outside – wonderful waterfalls. Getting thereto is a sweaty affair, but by this time you should simply accept you’re not going to be dry and fresh until your evening shower )…

And that’s all for today folks. And all for your portion of Chinese summer tourism tales-and-snaps for this year. But there’ll be a fall (autumn) portion coming up soon, for sure…

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