Guilin Day 2 & 3 - 23rd July 2008 @ 2:53 pm «   »

Location: China, Guangxi Province : Guilin Day 2 & 3

The Backstreet Hostel offers free transfers to some of the sights in town, so we booked one for Tuesday.

We were very happy about the late-ish pickup at 10:00 and the driver dropped us as the Solitary Beauty Peak in town. Like all the other sights in town, they charged an extortionate entrance fee for a little park with a few halls and a 152m high peak. The view from the top was not too great – partly due to the weather (it was raining all day) and the ugly buildings in between the karst hills around town.

A bit dissapointed, our driver picked us up at 11:30 to go to the Reed Flute Cave, 5km northwest of the city. Despite the high entrance price, the cave was worth visiting – it’s very big and again the stalactites and stalagmites were coloured by floodlights. This time our tour guide could actually speak a little English and tried very hard to explain the sights to us. From the caves we took a bamboo raft across 2 lakes (which was actually only 1 big lake devided into 2, but this was the raft owner’s biggest selling point!) to the parking area from where we caught the bus back to town.

We had a lazy afternoon and spent a few hours on the internet before dinner.

On Wednesday we decided to make our own way to the terraced rice fields called the Dragon’s Backbone. We had to catch 3 different busses to make the 90-odd km journey and we arrived in Ping’an at 14:40 after having left Guilin at 09:25.

At this stage we realised that a package tour to this place might have been worth the cash, as we had very little time left to explore. Unfortunately the day was a complete wash-out from the word go, but we had been hoping for a break in the weather as we only had this one chance to see it. In Ping’an, where the various trails through the terraces start, it was pooring down heavily with rain, but we pushed on with our one little umbrella.

After having progressed about 500 meters up the hill, a thick fog bank rolled in amazingly swiftly and within minutes we could not see further than a few meters. We promptly called it a day, backtracked to the bus stand and managed to get a 15:00 direct bus back to Guilin. It was a 9 hour, 180km round-trip for the pleasure of 15 minutes in the pooring rain.. some days are stones.

To top off a slightly irritating day, Jan had a small disaster as we walked through the front door of the Hostel. We had been covering the camera and lense with a flimsy little sling-bag to protect it from the rain, and it was right at this point that the strap broke and the camera fell a solid three feet onto the concrete floor. The average point-&-shoot might have bounced once or twice, but this camera/lense combination weighs in at around 2.5kg, and it as if it plugged when it hit the deck.

The lense-cap was fused to the filter and the batery door broke off, but amazingly the camera body still seems to operate and the lense came off unscathed by the looks of things. Thanks Canon!

A relaxed evening and following morning brought us to a noon departure for Yangshuo, and the promise of more sublime scenery.

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

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