Impressions of Liu Sanjie

August 16, 2010

While visiting China in September/November of 2008, we went to Guilin, went underground to the Reed Flute Cave, hiked the Dragon’s Back, cruised the Li River and spent two days in Yanghsuo.

A brief tour from Guilin to Yanghsuo

Then we saw Zhang Yimou’s breathtaking staged production, the Impressions of Liu Sanjie, which I recommend to anyone visiting Southeast China.

One of the lightshow scenes from “Impressions of Liu Sanjie”

Zhang Yimou, the director, is an internationally acclaimed Chinese filmmaker. He made his directorial debut in 1987 with the film “Red Sorghum”.

In the 1990s, Zhang Yimou directed “Raise the Red Lantern”—nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 1991 Academy Awards.

The “Impressions of Liu Sanjie” is performed on the river at night. However, you may be more familiar with Zhang Yimou’s opening and closing ceremonies for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

More from the “Impressions of Liu Sanjie”


The “Impressions of Liu Sanjie” is performed with the Karst Mountains and the Li River as the setting.

The cast comes from the local Guangzi Zhuan Autonomous Region  and many may be fishermen by day and actors at night and are from the Zhuang and Yao minority groups, who live in that region.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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Going Underground in Guilin

June 15, 2010

After checking into our Guilin hotel in Southeast China near Vietnam, we hired a taxi and visited Reed Flute Cave (Ludi Cave), which is in Northwest Guilin.

Photo by Lloyd Lofthouse

Reed Flute Cave was named during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD) due to reeds (Ludi Cao) growing near the cave’s entrance, which are still used to make flutes.

Photo by Lloyd Lofthouse

There are historical stone ink inscriptions inside the cave dated to 792 AD.

Lucky Turtle Photo taken by Lloyd Lofthouse

Millions have walked these paved pathways. Reed Flute Cave has been an attraction for over a thousand years and the tour lasts about an hour.

Photo by Lloyd Lofthouse

During Times of war, the local people would hide in the cave. One grotto, the Crystal Palace of the Dragon King, could hold a thousand people.

Photo by Lloyd Lofthouse

Crown Cave was the second underground attraction, but it was late and the next day we were on our way to the Li River.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Climbing the Dragon Back

May 18, 2010

The Dragon Back Rice Terraces are located in Guangxi Province in southeast China near Vietnam.  The nearest city is Guilin, which is close to the Li River. 

When we arrived, there was two-legged transportation for anyone who wasn’t strong or healthy enough to climb to the top. There are fifty-six minorities in China and this is an autonomous region where the Zhuan minority lives—the largest minority in China.

Halfway to the top

Halfway to the top, we passed this woman cleaning rice.

We arrived in the autumn and the rice had been harvested. The terraces were turning brown. For lunch, we ate in the village.  The terraced rice was cooked in segments of bamboo over an open fire.

at the top looking back

At the top, we looked toward the far mountains—a foggy blue outline. On the way down, we noticed an entrepreneur making money by letting tourists dress in minority costumes and take pictures.

To see more photos of the Dragon’s Back, click on Travel Pod.  You may also want to join me on a Li River Cruise.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning novels My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart. He also Blogs at The Soulful Veteran and Crazy Normal.

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2008 China Trip – Part 2

January 29, 2010

While in Guilin, we took a slow boat down the Li River and attended a musical and lighting extravaganza “Impressions of Liu Sanjie” near the town of Yangshuo.

This outdoor show, with a cast of six hundred local people, takes place at night on a stretch of the Li River with real mountains as a backdrop.  The “Impressions of Liu Sanjie” is the creation of Zhang Zimou, China’s famous film director. Zhang is also world famous for directing the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

A scene from Zhang Zimou's nighttime spectacular on the Li River.

However, Zhang directed “Impressions of Liu Sanjie” several years earlier.

During the trip, I took a thousand pictures. While America’s inner cities team with street gangs and grafitti, people in China are friendly and courteous. Come back and visit often as I show a bit more about what I have learned about China and this ancient culture based on Confucianism and Taoism.

I’m sure that what I have learned in the last ten years is what caused Robert Hart, the main character in my novel, My Splendid Concubine, to fall in love with the Chinese culture and people.

What I find amazing about Robert Hart is that he did all this while staying connected to his family in Ireland and to his Christian, Irish, British heritage. After all, Queen Victoria made him a Baron late in his life. In addition, more than a dozen countries honored him with awards including the Pope in Rome.

Return to 2008 China Trip – Part 1 or discover Xian


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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