Impression Sanjie Liu

Traveling to Guilin wouldn’t be complete without watching the world-famous ‘Impression Sanjie Liu’. So I booked a ticket a week before my scheduled flight to China, thanks to Vivi Chen, the travel advisor from China Travel (same agency where I got a group rate for Li River cruise). Transactions online was as easy as 1, 2, 3!

The complication started the minute I arrived the theater. I walked around looking for the tour guide with the flag sign of the travel agency. Half an hour passed and he/she is nowhere in site! I have checked every flag each guide was holding, but none from CTIS! All my calls were unsuccessful, my efforts in vain. What was I to do? It was a rainy night and I was already feeling desperate especially with a motley crowd before me awaiting their guide’s bidding.

An ambulant vendor noticed me and attempted to sell tickets. I just shook my head and showed her the CTIS flag sign in Chinese. Voila! She recognized it and pointed me towards the guide. I followed her direction and found the flag sign on the table. No wonder I couldn’t find it! I honestly wanted to lash out at the guide, but realized that it would be in vain, as he doesn’t speak English.

I seriously do not understand why viewers cannot simply go on their own. It’s not that hard to understand the seating arrangement. They have to be with a tour guide. Ironic too, because once I was inside and got my ticket, the guide just let me go on my own to find my seat. So what’s the purpose of imposing a tour guide on viewers? I’m literally scratching my head now 😦 Entrance to the Li River Mountain-Water Theater is the most chaotic ever!

The Show:

Impression Sanjie Liu, the first of its kind in the world, is the core project of The Li River Mountain-Water Theater invested by Guilin Guangwei Wenhua Tourism and Culture that took 5 years to complete. This production expresses the beautiful scenery of the Li River, the colorful culture of the ethnic groups in Guangxi and the brave imagination and creativity of the artists in China. The lighting and special smokey effect create a dreamlike world for the audience. The sound system of the theater is designed to be invisible and uses the echo of the mountain to gain a natural stereo effect. This 70-minute performance combines classical Sanjie Liu Songs, the ethnic groups’ culture and the fishing lights to reflect the harmonious atmosphere between nature and human beings.

The Prelude: Legend of the Scenery

Singing folk songs, you asking, I am answering. The folk songs are as clear and intelligent as the water and tells you a beautiful legend. The wind comes over, and the clouds flying Sanjie Liu, a spirit of songs, is in everywhere among the river and the mountains.


This section is based on the legend of Sanjie Liu. The creator/director bravely combines the songs with the fishing nets to form an impression of Duige (the singing of questions and answers by two parties).


Sunset clouds, cooking smoke, shepherd boy, washing women, fishing raft. All these pictures tell the story of our beautiful homeland. The creator shows a picture of the daily life of the people in Lijiang River. It enables viewers to understand more about the background in which Sanjie Liu was born, and feel the beauty of hometown folk songs.


“It is the vine twining round the trees in the world. How can a vine rely on the tree? Without the tree, the vine’s life would be as dry as dust.” This classical love song of Sanjie Liu echoes in the mountains and rivers. It seems that the bamboo forestry, the wooden houses, the moon, even the demon on the moon, and the bathing bride in the river are all becoming one in this love song’s notes. “Let’s twine for a hundred years. If one of us dies at age 97, the other would be waiting at Naihe Bridge in the next three years.”


Fishing lights, bamboo rafts, straw rain capes, cormorants – all these make up a classical picture of Lijiang River. And the fishing lights is the soul of this picture because it shows an image of the ordinary people’s work and life in the old days. This scene is a foretaste of the people’s life in Lijiang River because all 200 performers are real fishermen and women from 5 villages.

SILVERY IMPRESSION: Grand Ceremony Performance

This scene is the essence of the show. Ordinary people celebrate the legend of Sanjie Liu. Two hundred girls from different ethnic groups are dressed with Silver-Light Garment that shows a magnificent impression. It is praised as “the wonder of Lijiang Culture.”

The Epilogue: The earth praising and singing

The fishing rafts are gone, the lights are turned off, but the songs of Sanjie Liu is hovering around. Thanks for the presents this land gives; thanks for the joy the beautiful song brings; thanks for all the fellow villagers. Since I have no delicious meal to serve you, the only thing I can do is to sing folk songs and entertain you. Thanks a lot!

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Posted in Life in Art
One comment on “Impression Sanjie Liu
  1. […] Day 10 Thanks to the hostel which provided storage for my luggage, I was able to enjoy the Cruise to Yangshuo hassle-free. After checking-in at Yangshuo Green Forest, I joined a bus tour to Shangri-la, Yulong River Bridge and Cormorants fishing show. We came back to the town center in time to watch “Impressions Sanjie Liu”. […]


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