The Illusion show at Yangshuo

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The Illusion show at Yangshuo

We had not planned on seeing any more shows. The Chengdu mask changing show was a real hit and the Tang Dynasty show was good while the Peking Opera was not as well received! However our guide Helen highly recommended getting to see the Illusion show while we were in Yangshuo which is created by the director of the Beijing Olympic opening ceremony. It was also a bit pricey with normal seats costing 250 Yuan, seats for ‘distinguished guests’ costing 350 Yuan and VIP seats costing 450 Yuan. However we decided to try it and on Helen’s advice we bought the middle priced tickets.

A moon on the lake surrounded by boats at the Illusion Show in YangshuoThe show is enormously popular and on the night we went they were running two shows; 8pm and 9.15pm. The traffic queues were similar to the big cities we had seen with buses, coaches, minivans and bikes all fighting for position. Even on small roads, some drivers seemed think there were 3 lanes and several times we got almost stuck but Mr Li or driver was always able to squeeze through.

After collecting the tickets and the having them double checked because of fake ones we got to the display area which was a large tiered seating area facing the darkened river.

The show was all in Chinese and we had know programme but from what Helen had told us and what we saw it appeared to be a series of set piece displays intended to leave an extravagant impression of aspect of everyday life. It started with lights illuminating the nearby hills, giving them a white and rather eery glow.

The show was spectacular on a grand scale with fantastic visual effects. It was one of those performances that is difficult to capture on camera or describe fully. In fact I had to stop trying to get pictures at one point because the visual effects are lost on the narrow focus of the camera lens.

Incredible sight a hundred farmers creating a red wave at the Illusion Show in YangshuoAmong the highlights were an impression of workers in a field with about a hundred boatmen dressed as farmers in their bamboo hats seemingly walking out over the water in about ten lines. Then positioning themselves in neat formation they pulled up a long red ribbon (as wide as they were tall) and pulling it up and down in formation created red waves across the water.

Another highlight was close to the end when a line of people, illuminated with silver lights on their bodies stepped out of the darkness and started marching across the water. The lights were flashing and gave them an impression of a robot. The people kept coming and the line snaked across the water until there must have been more than 100 in total. There was no view of them before they stepped onto the water, they appeared to step in from nowhere.

The whole performance was accompanied by either Chinese traditional voices or stirring orchestral music.

There were mixed feelings in the family when we discussed it afterwards. We all agreed that it was amazing and the visual effects were awesome. However while I would definitely see it again and recommend it to others, Kate disliked the Chinese singing, Lisa enjoyed it but questioned the price if the tickets and Callum felt it ‘went on a bit’ (although it did start and finish exactly to time – 75 mins).