Dule Caves – Tourist In Da House
As I begin year four in my adopted hometown of Liuzhou, I thought it might be time to check out arguably the only real tourist attraction in the area. The Dule Caves are located about 20 kilometers south of the city. The guided walk through three separate grottos doesn’t take long and the caves are a welcome respite from the heat. Still, I’m not sure I’d go again on a day as hot (97F) and humid (100%) as this was. Of course the caves were cool but the treks between were, well, not cool. I was surprised that when we came out of the first cave we had to climb some pretty steep steps up to the second and when then we came out of the second cave we found ourselves at the top of a mountain! It wasn’t a big mountain but it was more than a hill. Then, upon exiting the third cave, we realized we were about 5 kilometers away from the parking area and brother there wasn’t anything resembling a shuttle in sight. The fee is 25 RMB per person for what is usually a guided group tour. We negotiated a price (50 RMB) for a private tour so I could take photos without having to rush. Was it worth it? Ask me tomorrow when I’m trying to get out of bed…
The guides provide all sorts of folk-lore and in the canned presentation say things like “Here, as you can clearly see, this formation looks like a rhinoceros!”. Uh, yeah, I guess I kinda’ see that. Legend has it that the middle cave was inhabited by a fish goddess who leapt out of the cave through the ceiling to save her sister. I saw the hole in the ceiling so it must be true. We like our fish goddesses in Liuzhou, three separate stories all conveniently intertwined. Today’s version was number 46 I believe.
When we arrived at the park we discovered there was a lot of construction going on. Apparently the local government has decided to spend millions on re-developing the base area to include a hotel and spa, meeting facilities and a very large Buddhist Temple. Work on the temple is well underway and is scheduled for completion in December. It’s all being hand hewn in wood by artisans from across China, supposedly without a single nail. Everything was in various stages of completion but these four Buddhas were already in place at the entrance.
It looks like it’s going to be a nice place for photos so I want to return when the temple is complete. So yeah, a pretty good day.
I poached a wedding photographers shoot for a little while. It was a bit bizarre, he (the photographer) was running around shirtless (not pretty) and sweating as badly as I was while the bride and groom were full-on dressed up and dry as a bone. I only got a couple of shots because I didn’t want to make the other photographer uncomfortable or angry. As it was, the couple was already beginning to work my lens and not his.
One issue, when coming out of the cool caves into the hot humid air, my lens immediately fogged up. I didn’t think about that before we left the house so I was unprepared. There is a fairly easy way to deal with lens condensation, or at least to prevent it. Keep the camera in a water-proof, zip-lock plastic bag until the temperature of the camera equalizes with the air. Any condensation that occurs will occur on the bag. If you do get some condensation, you’ll just have to wait for it to evaporate. Even if you wipe it off, it will re-fog if the lens is still cooler than the air. I missed some landscapes today because of the foggy lens. Lesson learned, keep the plastic bag in the camera bag.
I finally heard from the group in Inner Mongolia and they say the project is being postponed until later in the month or even September. We’ll see if it actually happens. Still have the trip to Guangzhou, Shenzen and Hong Kong planned in a couple of weeks. I’ve been doing a lot of leg work on the new web site and it is coming along slowly but surely. Nothing else here for now…. later!