Reed Flute Cave
Address: Ludi Lu
Transport: Bus: no. 3
Price: ¥45 ($5.50); in the slow season, ¥40 ($5)

Reed Flute Cave is the largest and the most spectacular of the karst caverns in Guilin. Its name derives from the reed that grows near the entrance of the cave and makes excellent flutes. Lined along its entire 500-meter zigzag length with stalactites and stalagmites of the most striking colours, the cave is known also as a palace of natural art.

Illuminated, the limestone containing minerals appears like coral, agate, amber or jade, and the tourist imagines splendid pavilions, palatial halls, flower garden and orchards. Another impression is of the sun’s rays filtering through tree leaves. At one point in the cave a huge slab of white rock hangs down from a ledge like a cataract. On a terrace opposite the fall stands a rock, the very image of an old scholar.

A story of course explains this, saying that a scholar who came to admire the scenery at Guilin was soon enchanted by Reed Flute Cave that he decided to write a poem worthy of its beauty. But a long time passed and he had composed only two lines: “What a masterpiece of nature is the Reed Flute Cave, I wish to praise its beauty, but I cannot find the words.” Before he could finish his poem, the scholar was turned into a stone. One grotto in the cave can hold a thousand people. This is called the Crystal Palace of the Dragon King in Chinese folklore. One stone pilar here is the Dragon King’s magic wand with which he kept the sea tranquil. In the well known novel Pilgrimage to the West the Monkey King Sun Wukong, asks the Dragon King to give him the wand. The Dragon King turns him down, whereupon the Monkey King takes it by force, defeats the Dragon King’s army of snails and jellyfish, and wreaks havoc in the palace. The “snails” and “jellyfish” lie scattered in the cave, broken bits of stalagmites. One stone resembles a carp diving into the water.

The Reed Flute Cave is huge and you walk through to see rock formations named as they look—one looking like a mother holding her baby, one like a crystal palace, another like melons and vegetables! It is full of stalagmites and stalactites. It is interesting to think that all the mountains could have caves inside and you might never know what is inside them.

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