Our river boat ride down the Li River from Guilin, through the spectacular karst mountains, took us to the city of Yangshuo (population 300,000) where we had an afternoon of exploration, the opportunity to cook our own dinners at a Chinese restaurant and cooking school, and then attend the Liu San Jie Impression Light Show on the Li River bank in town. Our cooking school chef and instructor – from Cloud 9 Restaurant and Cooking School — took us through the local market on Xi Jie Street (West Street), pointing out many of the ingredients for our multi-course dinner that we then prepared. Our four courses, individually cooked by each of us in our small group, included: Gong Bao Chicken, Egg Dumplings with Pork and Vegetables, Fry Noodles with Vegetables, and Cucumber in Vinegar & Chili Sauce.
“Impression Sanjie Liu was premiered on March 20th, 2004 at the Sanjie Liu Sing Fair, one mile from West Street (Xi Jie). This is the world largest natural theater which utilizes the waters of the Li River as its stage, with twelve mist shrouded hills and the heavens as its backdrop. Mist, rain, moonlight, the hills and their inverted reflections in the river all become the ever-changing natural background. Its auditorium is housed on the natural islands of the river with the audience standing on the designed terraces, surrounded by green plants. The sound equipment here cannot be seen because it is in harmony with the natural environment.
“The valleys, the hills, the cool breeze and the gurgling streams are all elements contributing to the three-dimensional sound effect. Day by day, different weather offers different sceneries with the four seasons refreshing the performance of Impression Sanjie Liu as well, so you will have unique experience every time you watch it. This is really a new concept opera using nature as an integral part of its performers; hence its name – ‘Human’s Masterpiece Cooperated with the God’.
“Maybe you have heard of the film ‘Sanjie Liu’ produced in 1961, which made the Li River famous worldwide. Sanjie Liu is a fairy singer in the myths and legends of the Zhuang ethnic minority. She is incomparably beautiful, and has voice to match her beauty. In the ‘Impression Sanjie Liu’, what you can see are the impressions derived from the daily life of the people living around the Li River, rather than the specific details of the stories.” — www.travelchinaguide.com
As we watched the incredible light show with a total of nearly 600 actors (mostly locals, supplemented by students at the local universities), we were struck by the scale and beauty of the show – reminding us of the opening night spectacle of the opening of the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing on August 8, 2008 (08-08-08). Afterwards, on the way to our hotel, we learned from our local guide that indeed, the producer (and owner) of the Impression Sanjie Liu show and theater was Yimou Zhang, the chief director of the opening and closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games. In 2008, Zhang was nominated as 2008 Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.
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