Funny how I had been to Guilin I think five times over my past two years in China, but I’d never sat down for a bowl of the traditional green and ginger tea, with its crunchy rice puff and peanut accouterment, nor had I sampled the hearty, plump potato noodles. We mingled with the locals after dark in the roadside stands, stooped on little stools at short tables- Chinese style.
But we made careful not to imbibe too much of the bitter brew…apparently the caffeine can easily keep one up all night!
Gulping up coffee this morning, packing up, and getting ready for my final Chinese road trip–this time to Guilin, to visit foster families and say goodbye to the wonderful Chinese NGO staff who’ve been so generous with their time and energy as I complete my research here in Guangxi.
I know I must be about ready to head back to the US, because my heart is not leaping at the thought of train travel the way it was once upon a time. I’m looking forward to that last week of sleeping in unfamiliar places, unbearable heat, and torrential downpours (one of which we got caught in yesterday afternoon!). This will be my last hurrah as I call it, and I hope it brings joy and closure.
I’ll be out of internet range for the next week. So See you in a week or so, and thanks for stopping by.
Not only did my Dad and my sisters make it to China, but we took a train ride back to the lovely city of Guilin…
where we climbed the sun and moon pagodas…
…and Diecai peak, from which we admired the karst formations cutting through the modern cityscape.
But then it was onto the rice terraces, where we stayed in the picturesque Zhuang town of Ping’ an…
…and hiked with our new friend, a Yao woman, named Xiao Pan…
…to her village, Zhongliu.
We lunched in Zhongliu on potatoes, green beans, and pork, and the walked back to Ping’ an, a journey that takes Xiao Pan one hour, but took us over two. We certainly stopped to take in the beautiful views, though, along the way.
The rice terraces were a wonderful adventure, one I’m rather disappointed I waited so long to take on, but also one I’m also glad to have enjoyed with my family while they were in China.
So as I mentioned, some friends, my husband, and I made a quick train trip out to Guilin, a scenic town in Guangxi, for a weekend. It was a great trip, and here are some of the highlights as promised…
After checking into our hotel (The Homeland Riverview Hotel (see my review, marked “Erin R”: pros- fantastic downtown location, within walking distance from most sites, right on the Li River, and right around the corner from major pedestrian, shopping street, Western restaurant good value; cons- rooms, although nice, were very small), we walked about twenty minutes to Elephant Trunk Hill, where we bought package tickets to four sites for 175 RMB (Elephant Trunk Hill, Seven Stars Park, Reed Flute Cave, and Diecai Hill). Seemed in the end, when we added it all up, the package ticket saved us at least 30 RMB.
There wasn’t too much to see at Elephant Trunk Hill besides the rock formation, but it was dusk, lovely weather, and there weren’t too many tourists, so we enjoyed clowning around taking photos in front of the Li River and in the nearby Elephant Hill Park.
That evening we took the suggestion of the Lonely Planet, and dined at their number one rated, Yiyuan Restaurant. Definitely nothing special there. The rest of the weekend confirmed that the Lonely Planet certainly doesn’t have a monopoly on the “must sees” in Guilin (more on that later).
We spent the evening wandering the Two Rivers Four Lakes park scenic area, looking for the night market (I’d been once before but couldn’t remember exactly where it was located). The park area was actually really cool, all lit up at night (although I think the boat rides would be overrated), with impromptu dance parties like you find all over China, but also a band playing minority music and dressed in costume.
The night market is meandering and unfortunately kitschy- we did our better shopping the morning before we left at the vendors who place their stands just down the street from the Eva Inn.
The next day we took in the Reed Flute Cave and Seven Star Park, but more on that to come in the next installment!
My husband and I just got back from our three-year anniversary weekend in Yangshuo, a picturesque, touristy town in our region, just southeast of Guilin. We’ve been wanting to go for quite awhile, and because we were a bit under the weather, we enjoyed lounging about, rather than rafting or rock climbing, both of which are plentiful along the beautiful Li or Yulong Rivers or up on the karsts. So, if you’re looking for a lazy weekend in Yangshuo, here were our highlights:
We flew into Guilin, and taxied to Yangshuo to save time. The drive in was lovely. We stayed at a gorgeous, albeit very noisy hotel just off of rocking West Street, named The Magnolia Hotel. The decor inside was something out of a Buddhist retreat, the bed was soft, very soft by Chinese standards, and so it was a nice respite from all the crowds out on West Street, the main drag.
With all the foreign tourists, English spoken, and Western food, Evan and I decided Yangshuo is kind of like “China lite.” On Saturday evening, we had dinner at an authentic Indian restaurant, great garlic nan, lentils, curry, Indian pickles, pakora, only the palak paneer was a little disappointing, strangely lacking salt. After an early dinner on the street, we went out and caught the Impressions of Liu San Jie light show on the Li River, which lived up to its reputation, and was truly magical and spectacular.
We spent some time on Sunday afternoon in St. Rossi coffee shop, which despite the rather steep prices for China, was a welcome air conditioned haven, with good coffee, and a Hong Kong (I suspect it’s an HK chain) vibe. They also had English magazines and travel guides, so we had reading material.
Speaking of reading material, we were a bit let down to find that the more prominent book swap shop in Yangshuo had mostly trashy romance novels. However, on our way out of town on Sunday evening we stumbled upon a much more sparsely stacked store on a side street with Harry Potter, a slew of Bertrand Russells, Life of Pi, and other eclectic selections still in plastic. The girl at the counter mentioned her “supplier,” and we signed up for a mailing list for upcoming titles that they say they can ship all over China. Here’s hoping!
All in all, it was a great, relaxing weekend. I leave you with these photos of cute girls playing down by the river on a Saturday afternoon, trying to catch fish and splashing each other. It was lovely to watch.