Li River Valley, Guilin, China

The Li River ( 漓江 or Lí Jiāng) runs through these karst formations in Guangxi Zhuang, an autonomous region of southwest China. For centuries poets and other people have traveled here to ponder the sinuous river as it wends through the lumpy hills, but few make the hot, sweaty, calf-busting climb to the tob of the highest hills. I did, in 2001, trailed by two old women who wanted to sell me Coke, water, and snacks. They gave up 500 meters from the top. There was no one there. The view was spectacular but very still. No camera captures heat and humidity, which held this locale in a sauna of silence.

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