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Set in a beautifully isolated spot where tall karst peaks flank the Zuo River (左江, zuŏjiāng), waterfront cliffs at Hua Shan (花山, huāshān) are daubed with rock art associated with the prehistoric local culture. The access point is TUOLONG (驮龙, tuólóng), a single-street rail stop for the nearby town of Ningming. Once at Tuolong, make your way to the Tuolong Bridge Dock (驮龙桥码头, tuólóngqiáo mătóu) where you’ll find sampan owners for the run upstream to Hua Shan; allow at least five hours for the return trip, including time to view the rock art. It’s a placid journey up the Zuo, with buffalo wallowing in the shallows, people fishing from wooden rafts and tending family plots, and the banks thick with spindly-branched, red-flowering kapok trees. The boat docks just short of Hua Shan, where you pay the entrance fee before walking along a track to the paintings. Nobody has worked out a definitive interpretation of the 1900 sharply posed figures, but they include drummers and dancers, dogs and cattle, a dragon-boat race, men with arms bent upwards, a “king” with a sword and just two women, long-haired and pregnant.

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