Guilin (Chinese: 桂林; pinyin: Guìlín; Zhuang: Gveilinz) is a prefecture-level city in the northeast of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of far southern China, sitting on the west bank of the Li River. Its name means “forest of Sweet Osmanthus“, owing to the large number of fragrant Sweet Osmanthus trees located in the city. The city has long been renowned for its unique scenery. (Wikipedia)
Guilin is world famous for its amazing scenery, especially its karst mountains. The city of Guilin has five famous mountains that stand out in not only their beauty, but also their historic significance. The most famous is Elephant Trunk Hill. It is located where the Peach Blossom River empties into the Li River and is the symbol of Guilin. Its shape resembles an elephant drinking from the river.
On the top of Elephant Trunk Hill sits a pagoda named Puxian Pagoda. It is 14-meter-high, and was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The pagoda looks like the hilt of a sword sticking out of the back of the elephant. There is a ancient legend surrounding it. In the ancient past, the Emperor of Heaven set out to conquer Earth commanding his troops from the back of the elephant. The elephant worked so hard to provide transportation for the Emperor of Heaven, that it became seriously ill. The local farmers nursed it back to health. The elephant being extremely grateful, decided to desert the emperor and stay on earth to help the farmers plow their fields during a time of famine. The Emperor of Heaven was so angry, that he thrust his sword into the elephant’s back and turned the elephant into the rocky hill. The pagoda erected on top of the hill stands for the hilt of the sword. Now this kindly elephant can forever stay with the friendly people of Guilin, guarding the city and welcoming guests from all over the world to this beautiful city. (Taken from China Odyssey Tours)
I was told of this legend of elephant hill, and how important it was to see while visiting Guilin. After dinner the first evening Rebecca, our wonderful tour guide, mentioned that she would take us to see the hill. Along the way we stopped to do some shopping, which took longer than we expected, but Rebecca was determined to find the site. She asked many different people for directions, but by the time we got there it was 9:00pm. so dark outside. It was so cute to watch her walk along the gate to try and get a look at the hill, and recite, “there it is in the middle”. Needless to say we could not see anything, and she felt bad that we had walked so far to find the park closed. So we settled for taking a picture out front.
We returned to Guilin to fly home, and had some free time so we were told we could go up to the top of one of the pagodas to view the elephant hill. The actual park was a distance and they had raised the price because of the holiday weekend, so Patchara and I decided to check out the pagodas.
We climbed the 7 flights of stairs of the first pagoda, and saw the mountain but were not able to see the elephant trunk!!! All that climbing for nothing!!
We then went underground to go the next pagoda where there actually was an elevator. On display were statues to represent the Chinese horoscope, so here I am for the year of the rooster.
We took the elevator to the 7th floor and climbed the steps to top of the 9th floor, and saw the same mountain view.
Disappointment filled my sweaty body. I guess it is meant to be, that another trip to Guilin will need to be taken in the future to view the city’s most famous site.
For now I am thankful to google for the picture. ( I bet all of you are also).