1)Take train 2514 at 8:16 AM from Guilin and get off at Xing'an Station. Ling Canal is in the southeast of that county.
Ling Canal is situated in Xing'an County, 66 kilometers (41 miles) away to the northeast of Guilin in Guangxi Province. It is one of the oldest and most integrated canals in existence in the world. Beautiful scenery, cultural relics, and historical sites make the Ling Canal a famous local scenic spot.
The canal was built from 219BC to 214BC in the reign of Emperor Qin Shi Huang (259BC - 210BC, the first emperor who unified China) and renovated several times in the following dynasties. After annexing the six countries (Qi States, Chu States, Yan States, Han States, Zhao States, Wei States), Qin Shi Huang dispatched 500,000 troops to the regions south of the Five Ridges (covering Guangdong and Guangxi Provinces). However, there were no convenient roads to the south. Therefore, Qin Shi Huang ordered Shi Lu (an official of the Qin) to take charge of the building of a canal which would enable the transportation of food and money for the army. When completed, the project not only facilitated the transporting of goods but also provided irrigation to the region. In a word, it played an important role in the integration of China and the prosperity of that region.
The canal, about 34 kilometers (21 miles) long, consists of two parts: the northern canal and the southern canal. Connecting the Xiang River and the Li River, the canal is 10 meters (32 feet) in length and 1.5 meters (5 feet) in depth. Each of the five parts of the canal has a specific function. For example, Hua Zui, in the shape of a ploughshare, is a stone dam made of giant stones. Its function is to divide the upper reaches of a sea partly into the northern canal which disembogues itself into the Xiang Rive and partly into the southern canal, which empties into the Li River. Scientifically designed, it still performs its function in terms of irrigation.
It is possible to take a boat ride down the south canal to Xing'an Town which is well worth the money. The wooden punt is poled along the canal by two boatmen who are happy to point out the points of interest and answer questions if you have someone along who speaks Chinese. They are happy to stop at the most significant spots on the canal for photos or to allow you to get a better look. The ride finishes in the town. The canal continues through Xing'an. The walk along the waterway is very interesting. It is lined with old traditional style building where the residents go about their daily life. I do believe that it would be very crowded with domestic tourists at holiday time, but our visit was free of any congestion and we were the only western tourist in the place. We not hassled by anybody wanting to sell souvenirs or continually assaulted by "hello, lookie" venders.
A Chinese guide or Chinese speaker is almost a necessity to get the most out of the experience. The ticket office at the entrance advertises a boat ride but this is just across a small lagoon and is not worth the RMB 20 per person for a 50 meter ride. The boat ride down the canal is purchased from the boat operators at the start of the south canal. You can't miss it. The park that surrounds the start of the canal also contains a small museum displaying he wreckage of one of the legendary "flying tigers" squadron that operated in the area during W W 2.
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