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Impression of Liu Sanjie

Yangshuo, China

The Li River has many experiences and sights to offer in its surrounding vicinity but not all are natural wonders. In Yangshuo, there is a performance in which the actors are all locals from the region and this performance tells a glamorized tale of the locals and how they go about their humble lives. The credits for choreography go to Zhang Yimou, a famed Chinese film director who directed ‘Raise the Red Lantern’ and ‘The Great Wall’ and was also involved in making the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. With such a talented individual involved, it is no wonder that the Impression Sanjie Liu has received such acclaim.

The venue for the show is accessible from the East Street in Yangshuo, which is a short battery car ride of 15 minutes from West Street or you can take a stroll to the scenic area from downtown Yangshuo. There are many types of seat available according to price range and group/ individual basis. Regular seats at RMB198, at the very back are allotted to tour groups. Then there are seats in the middle that have better audio and visual at RMB238 (close to the tour group section) and RMB320 (in a quieter corner). A row of more comfortable chairs is available at the very front, closest to the show that costs RMB480 (tour group section) and RMB680 (secluded section). Kids measuring 3.9 to 4.6 feet are charged a flat RMB90 and a spare chair is arranged for them in their parent’s enclosure. Kids under 3.9 feet are allowed in free alongside their parents, but without a seat.

The show is held twice daily, after sunset, at 19:40 and 21:00 and lasts an hour. However, the month before the Chinese New Year, there are no shows and they may be cancelled on short notice due to heavy raining. For light rains they don’t let you take an umbrella so grab a raincoat when in doubt of the weather.

The viewing pavilion is set up facing the Li River and you can see the glimmering water overshadowed by the wonderful karst mountains, lush with greenery. Impression Sanjie Liu has five chapters, a preface and an epilogue; which means seven separate performances that are exhibited during the show. At the show commences, the ‘arena’ atop the water is illuminated by an image of the title character, Sanjie, while the mountains glimmer in the background and the sound system comes alive with the theme track.

The Preface: The lights are switched on and a boat floats in front of the audience signaling the start of the ‘Legend of the Hills and Rivers’ The Five Chapters: With different color schemes symbolizing various aspects of the villager’s life, the show goes from Red (Folk Songs), Green (Garden), Golden (Fishing Lights), Blue (Love Songs) to Silver (Performance Grand Ceremony)

The Finale: The epilogue has the villager’s boats rowing off into the distance and the melody tapering off, while the actors in front give thanks.

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