If you fancy seeing more of the countryside between Nanning and Vietnam, Hua Shan is well worth the slight effort. Set in a beautifully isolated spot where tall karst peaks flank the Zuo River, waterfront cliffs at Hua Shan are daubed with rock art associated with prehistoric local culture. You can only get here by boat, and it’s a placid journey up the Zuo, with buffalo wallowing in the shallows, people fishing from bamboo rafts and tending family plots, and the banks thick with spindly-branched, red-flowering kapok trees. The boat docks by the paintings, where steps lead to viewing platforms to see them close up. Nobody has worked out a definitive interpretation of the 1900 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. Interesting as the paintings are, as with many of the best travels, the journey there is more rewarding than the destination.

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