On this trip you go as a traveller, only to find that you become the main attraction, as local people are delighted to see that we travel as they do - by bike and on foot! Whilst cycling along quiet back country roads we jostle for room with lumbering buffaloes, friendly farmers and of course local cyclists, while when trekking along mountain village trails we admire the views and spend time exploring the fascinating villages home to the Zhuang minority people. The highlight of the trip will be time spent at the Jin Keng Primary School where you will conduct a worthwhile and sustainable Service Project at the village school. We will be refurbishing the local school building by painting a classroom both internally and externally and re-plastering the walls where required. (Exact project specifics will be provided in mid 2015.) It will be equally hard work as it will be fascinating, educational and uplifting in every sense. To assist us there will be help from eager and appreciative local school kids and from a team of professional labourers who will ensure we complete the work on time and on budget. After completing the project we bid farewell to our new friends and travel to the historic town of Yangshuo to wonder amongst the well preserved streets, before heading up the scenic Li River to visit the Liu Gong Temple. The trip concludes in Guilin where we board a bullet train and make our way back to Hong Kong. Travelling with our expert bilingual local guides will allow the participants to conduct service work, engage with the communities we pass through, and gain an understanding on the historical, cultural and geographical influences. This is a service learning adventure to get excited over!
These trips involve cycling and/or walking for up to five hours a day at a slow but steady pace. You will need a reasonable level of fitness and good health. (Note: These are not easy trips).
Suggested preparation: 30 minutes of aerobic type exercise, (either cycling or jogging) three times a week. For a cycling adventure, cycling twice a week for three months prior to departure is recommended. You need to be comfortable and familiar with changing gears and the use of your front brake.
After all this thinking and planning the day has finally arrived for you to depart on your China cycling and trekking Service adventure. Your friendly bilingual guide will meet you at Hong Hum Railway Station and will travel with you for the rest of the trip. First you will catch the KCR/MTR to Shenzen North Station in Lok Ma Chau before boarding in 2nd class the GT904 Bullet Train to Guillin. Travel distance is 548km and the train ride takes 3 hours 43 minutes with a top speed of 308km/per hour. A Chinese boxed lunch will be served on board. We will arrive mid afternoon in Guilin and transferred by private vehicle to the centrally located Universal Hotel (4*). After an opportunity to freshen up we will head out on an orientation walking tour followed by a special Welcome dinner at a local restaurant. Welcome to China!
Accommodation: Universal Hotel (4*)
Today is busy day exploring all the natural and cultural sites of Guilin. In addition to its natural wonders, Guilin is also well known for it’s rich culture due to the numerous minority groups who reside in the area. First off we visit the symbol of Guilin city - Elephant Trunk Hill, here a limestone mountain has eroded in the shape of an elephants trunk drinking water. Next we head underground into Reed Flute Cave, which is described as being “the art gallery which was created by nature”. After lunch you will visit the Seven Star Park and Shan Lake before enjoying lunch in a local restaurant. After lunch we transfer to Longji (Dragon Spine) mountain famous for its spectacular terraced rice fields that many generations of ethnic Zhuang minority people built hundreds of years ago. The terraced rice fields received their name because the rice terraces resemble a dragon's scales, while the summit of the mountain range looks like the backbone of the dragon.
We will transfer to nearby the entrance of Ping An village before needing to transfer to a smaller van and with the help of local porters we will walk the last part to our guesthouse accommodation in historic Ping An village. The village is located on a steep slope with fantastic mountain views across the valley and of the nearby terraced rice fields at approximately 1200 meters above sea-level. It is home to over 100 subsistence farming households who are of Zhuang ethnic minority living on farming the nearby terraced fields and increasingly from tourism.
Accommodation: Ping An Village Guesthouse
Today will be a big day so we suggest a considerable breakfast to keep you sustained for the fun, adventure and service which you will experience! We leave Ping An village along scenic mountain trails among rice fields to take the 3 hour walk to Jin Keng village which is the location of this years Service project.
The school children will be expecting your arrival and expect a warm welcome and lots of noise. You will be assisted by expert local builders who will ensure that the project work is completed within the required time frame and on budget. Please note, for safety reasons no students will be allowed to climb ladders, use power tools or be required to do any heavy lifting or dangerous work. You will not need any specific skills or experience, just the willingness to participate and the ability to roll your sleeves up and get a little dirty. The work may physically challenge some students, although be very rewarding for all involved. Some additional ideas on the school project:
1) Teach a game in the school playground;
2) Play a basket ball game;
3) Have lunch with students at a local restaurant;
4) Plant trees at the school ground;
5) Paint or refurbish a classroom, and
6) Paint a mural
The school classrooms are equipped with very basic chairs and desks and some do not even have a blackboard. Presently, there is very basic playground equipment for the students to enjoy, however with the help of Discovery Bay International School, we aim to change that! The students are very motivated to learn English and there will be opportunities for you to teach a conversation based English lessons, or any other lesson you feel comfortable doing such as art and craft or music. A plaque with gratitude for DBIS will be unveiled at the completion of the project and many photographs will be taken to celebrate the work and the cross cultural engagement.
In the late afternoon bus ride back to Village Ping An. Overnight in guest house.
Accommodation: Ping An Village Guesthouse
After breakfast we bid farewell to our Guesthouse hosts and trek downhill to where our vehicle will be waiting. Porters will once again assist with your luggage. The drive to Yangshuo is very beautiful, spotted with small villages and imposing karst rock formations which have been inspiring Chinese creative thinkers and philosophers for thousands of years. Yangshuo is an idyllic town set amongst limestone pinnacles and rice paddies. The village itself has fantastic well preserved old buildings, market stalls and a lively ambiance. Upon arrival we will have a guided walking tour of historic West Street before seeing the evening show of Impression Liu Sanjie. Created by the well known film director Zhang Yimou (who also did the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies), Impression Liu Sanjie is a sensational night show performed in the largest open air natural theater in the world. Open to the elements and with mountain peaks framing the Li River you will see 600 plus actors involved. The scale and quality of the performance are unique and entertaining.
Dinner will be had at a local restaurant.
Accommodation: in Lijiang Hotel (3*)
This morning you will be faced with the challenge of hiking up more than 800 steps to reach the arch to view Moon Hill. The views are worth the effort and the challenge will prepare you for the scenic 16km bike ride along a beautiful quiet rural country road. A briefing will take place with yoru guide to ensure that all bikes are well set up and good quality bikes and helmets will be supplied. To finish off an adventurous day we will enjoy a boat ride on the Li River and visit Liu Gong Temple and village. A special celebratory farewell dinner has been arranged to celebrate what you have achieved over the week.
Accommodation Lijiang Hotel (3*)
We depart Yangshuo and drive the 75km to Guilin North Station where we farewell our guide and driver and board the G2901 bullet train to Shenzhen North. Then a combination of MTR and KCR to Hong Hum Station where the train will arrive at approximately 5:00pm. All services conclude upon arriving at Hong Hum Station yet the memories will last a lifetime!
Per Person, Twin Share