Guilin Day 1 - 21st July 2008 @ 11:28 am «   »

Location: China, Guangxi Province : Guilin Day 1

After leaving Heng Shan, we headed further south to Guilin. The bus trip from Heng Shan to Hengyan was only an hour, but there we could only get a bus at 15:00 to Guilin. Having arrived just after 10:00, this was not ideal so we decided to go to the train station instead. It was raining very hard all the way there and by the time we arrived in Hengyan the roads were completely flooded – so much so that people were walking almost knee-deep in the water!

As we had no idea how far the train station was, we got in a taxi only to find that the taxi driver has doctored his meter and it was going about 3 times as fast as it should have. After the hugely overpriced ride we heard that the only train that day to Guilin was leaving at 15:30 and the tickets were even more than the bus. Still raining at this stage, we headed back to the bus station and sat there (with our soaked bags) until 15:00.

The bus took 5 hours to do the 300km to Guilin and we arrived at about 20:00. Tired after another bumpy bus ride, we walked to the closest hostel but they were fully booked. We managed to get a very good rate at a little hotel next door from the hostel and checked in for 1 night. We had a flyer from another hostel in the center of town, so we walked there and made a reservation for the next 3 nights (at the same rate, but clean rooms and a much nicer atmosphere).

Guilin is a beautiful, scenic city with lots of karst hills and the Li River running through it, but the booming tourist trade has made it a challenge to enjoy its charms. The area around the bus and train stations are very bling with flashing, neon lights everywhere – not really the tranquil atmosphere we’ve seen on pictures and expected. But walking further north the city changes into pedestrianised streets with many little shops and cafe-style restaurants.

We ended our first night in Guilin with a very nice alfresco dinner in the city’s “Walking Street”. We pointed to very interesting looking dishes the Chinese family next to us had ordered and the waitress told us that if we ordered the same dishes off the English menu, the price is almost double. Aparently this is very common in Guilin to overcharge foreigners in restaurants.

Monday morning we checked into the Backstreet Youth Hostel we had reserved. It has a fantastic location and is a really great place with super friendly and helpfull staff (that can speak very good English).

The Lonely Planet raves about the Seven Star Park, so that was our first visit. The tourist sights in town levy heavy entry fees and we paid quiet a bit to see a relatively nice park (according to the book one of China’s most picturesque city parks, but we have our doubts), a small hill supposedly resembling a camel, a little, delapidated zoo and 2 caves (of which one was closed).

The Seven Star Cave was actually very impressive with a capacious chamber filled with huge stalactites and stalagmites coloured by floodlights. We had to follow a Chinese tour guide through the caves that only switched on the lights as the group approached a bizarrely named stalactite or stalagmite. As soon as the group moved forward, the lights would go off immediately, so there is a very small window of opportunity to take photos.

We were back at the hostel at around 19:00 and just relaxed for the rest of the evening, chatting to one of the staff members and learning about local life in Guilin.

If you can’t see the slideshow above click here.

3 Responses to “Guilin Day 1”  
nev Says:

Hey guys
Hope you are both doing well.
Can t believe how far you have got. Places you have visited look amazing.
Will have a deeper look ino ther piccies and stories.

Keep it safe and have as much fun as possible


Mamma van PE Says:

Ag liewe J&M, 2x het my hele skrywe aan julle net verdwyn,en ek kannie nou weer alles oortik nie!! Regine het na julle fotos gekyk,en verder het ek julle gekomplementeer met die reisbeskrywings.en die pragtige,kunstige fotos.Julle sal ‘n pragtige fotoreisboek kan saamstel eendag. voor alles weer weg is groet ek. het kunsklas ingewerk toe julle wou skype.So jammer daaroor.
Liefde Mamma

Pa en Ma Deacon Says:

Hi julle twee
Ek wil net vir julle se dat julle moet onthou ons gaan die naweek Pretoria toe – ons en Sune-hulle. Ons gaan almal by Engela-hulle bly. Oom Pieter-hulle gaan ook daar wees. Ons sien baie uit na die naweek. Ons kom weer Sondag-oggend terug.
Ek hoop dit gaan nog goed met julle en dat julle alles steeds baie geniet. Ons ADSL lyn is aan die werk en my web cam is ingestalleer. So, nou sal ons lekker kan Skype.
Nou ja, julle moet julle naweek baie geniet – waar julle ookal gaan wees! Pas julle self baie mooi op.
Baie liefde
Ons twee