My "Summer" Holiday

After Taryn’s email on Sunday afternoon directing me to my mystery, yet warmer than Wuhan destination I booked tickets and flew out Monday to Guilin in northern Guangxi. An initial hiccup (the cafe we had organised to meet at had closed down) didn’t hinder us from having an excellent adventure.

Monday evening we went out for Guilinese food, which apparently means that stones come free of charge in hot pots. Nevertheless, we now both have an interesting souvenir from China. Could’ve decided to go to the Barbie Bar for a few drinks (only in China is a bar called “Barbie”) but headed back to our hotel instead taking in the beautiful Li Jiang river at night. We had an early morning cruise to look forward to.

Turned out to be not quite as early as expected thanks to the failure of Taryn’s alarm clock (or possibly Taryn but we won’t talk about that). Suprisingly we both awoke at 7:59am and were ready at 8:10am for the 8am start, which thanks to the Chinese habit of being at least 15 minutes late for things gave us 5 minutes to relax and meet Robert, the Dutchman who was also taking our cruise. And to think that we could have slept in another 5 minutes. Anyway, we headed down to the pier by bus and jumped onto the “deluxe” boat to Yangshuo.

Our Deluxe Boat

Taryn, Robert and myself
with other tour members

The scenery around Guilin, Yangshuo and particularly the Li Jiang river is just amazing. The hills are tree-lined, odd-shaped and I’ve never seen anything quite like them. We spent the first half of the boat trip trying to spot the hills from our map, which are named in the normal Chinese manner. We missed “The Wakening Frog”, “The Nine Dragons Playing With Water”, “The Frog Crossing The River” and the “Lion Ascending The Five Finger Hill”, however we saw three “Grandpa Watching Apples” none of which were the actual hill. Eventually we gave up hope of spotting anything and resorted to naming the hills ourselves, something that we became rather good at. Nonetheless, the cruise was brilliant fun and the scenery was definately something that I’m glad I’ve seen.

Robert and Taryn

Fisherman on Ji Liang

“The fish looking at an apple between two fingers hill” as named by us

On arrival into Yangshuo we quickly checked into our hotel and headed to the “cultural” town of Shangri La. As expected, it was a town created purely for naive foreigners. The signs were particularly amusing… as below you can apparently walk or run places but definately no striding.

Shangri La Village

Inner sanctions of the Village

Hmmm… striding?

I did however enjoy the boat ride through some nice scenery and managed to partake in the “heel and toe” version of native Yangshuo dancing.

Taryn climbing onto the boat

Dancers along the river cruise

Joining in the dancing

We toured back into Yangshuo and headed straight to the bar. We were looking for anything on flat ground but managed to find the Aussie Bar. Now I’m all for experiencing the culture of a place but we spotted a Coopers Beer in a cold fridge for the first time in a long long time. So we stayed… and an enjoyable evening was had by all.

The next morning we took in the sights and sounds of Yangshuo by walking to breakfast. It is a beautiful city but a bit too touristy for my interests. I even lost interest in going up into the hills. I was definately looking to get back to Guilin. Nevertheless there were some picturesque spots in Yangshuo.

We headed back into Guilin by the 12noon bus. On arrival we checked back into the hotel and took a taxi to the Reed Flute Caves, which once again turned out to be a bit of a farce. Not that the caves weren’t spectactular. It was just that the Chinese had managed to turn it into a light spectacular. The cave had some of the most amazing rock formations but the green, red and blue fluorescent lighting made it all seem fake. That and the 30 other people in our tour group and the made up stories behind every section of the cave. Both Taryn and I felt that if the Chinese had have left the cave in it’s natural state then it would have been much more interesting.

Afterwards we had an enjoyable dinner, a lovely walk around Guilin (hopefully more photos will be put up soon… my camera died) and went back to the hotel. I left the next morning to return to Wuhan and the teaching of English students.