The famous Reed Flute Caves of Guilin are an underground world of 700,000 year old stalactites and stone pillars. A colourful spectrum of lights illuminates these spectacular rock formations where some say is the home of the gods. However, when I visited the caves in Guilin I had the honour of visiting a cave that lies hidden and unknown deep in a rice paddy valley. When you are married to a Chinese person, one advantage may be that you are more likely to have the opportunity to visit places out with any tourist guide. In the summer of 2008 we visited the home of my husband’s close friend.
We took the local inter-village bus to the foot of a mountain. Its only in recent years that the farmers cut out a dusty road through this mountain to join the rest of the world. Once you reach the top and look down into the valley you feel like you’re about to enter a poem. I’m not exaggerating. It’s a breath-taking sight.
After a lunch of home grown rice and a flavoursome vegetable I had never seen before we put on hard hats and armed with a torch we were taken to the blocked opening of the cave. Once cleared we took a step down into the darkness. It is said that this cave is even more spectacular than the Reed Flute Caves. The farmers once tried to find an investor but couldn’t agree with the businessman how to split the profits. Actually in my opinion, turning such a poetic valley into a tourist sight would need to be done carefully so as not to lose the magic outside the cave, not just light up the magic within. I was too scared to take the ladder down into the section where crystal clear water cascades down the purest looking gold I have ever seen. The gold like formations are made from carbonate deposition. I have seen a video the villagers made of their journey through their cave network but even after my second attempt the following day I just couldn’t throw health and safety out the window.