I am sitting here sipping green tea with Dave. It’s a little past midnight, and there are fireworks going off in the distance. Such a wonderfully “Chinese” moment for me to write about our trip to Guangxi 🙂
Guangxi is not technically a province, but a “Chinese Autonomous Region”, similar to Inner Mongolia and Tibet. Although Guilin was once Guangxi’s capital, it is now only its 3rd largest city. Still, it is a huge source of income for the autonomous region, as it is a very popular tourist spot. It’s easy to see why…
We arrived in Guilin at around 8am on Sunday September 28th. We took a bus to the wrong end of the city, and then took a cab to the hostel (oh the joys of the language barrier!). At first glance, our hostel was a tad intimidating. We had to walk down a back alley to get there, and our cab driver just left us on the side of the road. But once we were inside, we were very pleasantly surprised at the cleanliness to price ratio! We paid roughly $11 Canadian per night, and had a room to ourselves, with a comfortable queen size bed, a shower with hot water, and a flat screen TV. It was small but very comfortable, and the staff were very helpful with directions and suggestions for things that we should do while in the city.
After some lunch, we hopped on a bus, got a little lost, and then hopped onto another bus, to get to Reed Flute Cave. I’m no expert on caves (I’ve only ever seen one and it was this past summer), but Reed Flute Cave has to be one of the most beautiful caves in the world! The stalactites and stalagmites were enormous and took so many beautiful shapes. The Chinese are also very big on lighting up their caves, adding colour to the formations, so you can better see why certain areas are named as they are.
After wandering in this enormous cavern for quite some time, we found our way to the gift shop, where we unexpectedly purchased a painting by an artist whose work is done solely with his hands and fingers. We typically try not to buy much at gift shops, because items tend to be greatly overpriced, but the painting was gorgeous and well worth what he was asking.
The following two days of our trip were spent with a tour guide. Emily Cai met us at the hostel at 8:10 am Monday morning, and helped us order some Baozi (Chinese steam dumplings), before heading to the port where our Li River Cruise was set to depart.
We were put on the “Lao Wei” boat, which felt incredibly strange to both Dave and I. The occupants were mostly retired Europeans, who were all either shocked or horrified when we told them that we actually live in China. Some of them were so scared to try Chinese food (that had actually been heavily westernized for the sake of the western pallets on the boat), that they brought Wonderbread sandwiches along in little brown boxes. Among the snobby tourists, we did find a few like minded people. We actually sat at a table with some German retirees, who were taking a tour all throughout China. They spoke some English, and Dave had a chance to practice a little German, but they were very lighthearted, friendly people, who enjoyed the food and wanted to learn some Chinese to make their stay easier. We both enjoyed teaching them how to say “Binde” (cold) so they could stop miming the world ‘cold’ when they ask for beer at restaurants (Beer….brrrrrrrrrr….).
The sights were incredible on this tour! The mountains are rugged and take so many interesting shapes. The four and a half hour cruise made it easy to see why Guangxi is such a popular tourist destination. The beauty there is even on the Chinese 20rmb bill, and we passed the mountains that are on the currency 🙂
Although I would love to finish writing about my Guangxi adventures tonight, it’s now 1:30am, and I need to get some sleep! Stay tuned for Part 2!!!