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The Underground Lake

There is a series of cave systems that run under the huge mountains of Guilin in southern China. Reed Flute Cave is one of the more famous ones so I made a slight detour to go check it out. Like most places in China, there were a good number of tourists around so I quietly waited for them to pass so that I could have the place to myself and take pictures. The problem was that they would turn off the lights as soon as the tourists passed by so I was often left in the middle of a huge underground chamber with nothing but my cat eyes to guide me to safety. It was a little bit eerie, but all together awesome! I would point my camera at the ceiling and leave the shutter open for minutes at a time to collect all the faint light reflecting off some distant stalactite.

I finally made my way to the largest chamber where a small lake made a perfect reflection of the alien-looking rock formation on the other end. As I was waiting for my camera to gather all the light, my mind started to wonder what was lying deep in this ancient underground lake. As I kept staring at the dark water, listening to the single drops of water sliding off the stalactites and delicately swan-diving into the lake, I started to feel a hypnotic pull to walk into the lake. Lucky for me I was traveling with my guide, Bart, who tripped over something, made a loud noise and brought me back to the present moment … and that is why you hire a guide, ladies and gentlemen. They can keep you from taking a dip in scary underground lakes.

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Christian Ortiz, from