Written by Bill Pfeffer on 23 Feb, 2009
Boarding the express bus to Yangshuo for a day trip, it was painfully obvious that all the seats were taken, yet the optimistic driver emphatically waved us on. Along with a dozen other locals, we submissively followed him to the rear of the bus, sliding…Read More
Boarding the express bus to Yangshuo for a day trip, it was painfully obvious that all the seats were taken, yet the optimistic driver emphatically waved us on. Along with a dozen other locals, we submissively followed him to the rear of the bus, sliding our bodies sideways and dragging our packs along the floor, chanting ‘scuse me’ to everyone we passed, shuffling along and straining to look over the people already piled in the seats, curious where we were being led. Reaching the rear of the bus he started unstacking these ridiculous tiny plastic stools – the kind you use in your kitchen to set a bucket of water on when washing the floor – and started arranging them on the floor in the aisle one after another. Impatiently grunting at us to sit, we quickly glanced at one another, shrugged, moved into position and gingerly sat down, the fragile legs splaying out and threatening to collapse at any moment. By the time he finished there were at least twenty riders crammed in the aisle on the little stools, lined up knee to knee like kids stuffed on a toboggan, ready for the hour long trip to Yangshuo. We had arrived in rainy Guilin, China after an overnight train ride from Hanoi, Vietnam. Changing trains at the border, we gladly exchanged the shabby Vietnamese train staffed by unsmiling attendants for the sleek and clean Chinese train with the efficient officials checking every piece of luggage, asking a lot of questions, and generally being very fussy with our documentation. Armed with multiple entry visas, Guilin was our first immersion into the Chinese culture as we intended to work our way north to Beijing over the next three monthsPointing to a slip of paper with our hotel name on it, we eventually came to an agreement at the information desk that we needed to take the #10 bus and get off after five stops. During a break in the rain, we hopped across the puddles and waited in the bus queue as they continued to pull up one after another. Finally, we saw a #10 bus pull into the queue and we boarded, then soon realized as it left downtown that it was headed the wrong way. Exiting at the next stop, we calculated how many stops we just made to be added back into the five stops we needed to have going back the other way, then realized we didn’t have the correct change to get back on, which required a couple stops at local stores before we were able to acquire the correct money. By the time we reboarded, it was again raining and we searched for our hotel through steamed up windows as the bus traced its way back along the banks of the Li River and we counted each stop along the way, finally arriving tired and wet at our hotel.Guilin is part of the Guangxi (which translates into ‘vast, boundless west’) province, a rugged area home to 46 million people, which for centuries was considered too remote due to it’s craggy range of hills and mountains. Positioned within saw toothed limestone karsts that jut abruptly from the surrounding countryside, Guilin is poetically stunning, and with a population of only 750,000, one of China’s smaller cities. Despite the modern day haziness of the town due to pollution, you’re always treated to vistas of the dreamy surrounding peaks as you walk around the compact city. This area was one of the first to be opened to foreigners when China reopened the country to tourists back in the early 1980’s, and it remains a very popular destination, evident in its western influenced hotels and restaurants. Although other people on our train were continuing on to Beijing (another 30 hours), Guilin is a faithful and authentic introduction to China and certainly warrants a stopover, especially if you’re on an overland route to points east, like Guangzhou and Hong Kong, our next stops. One day we walked around the many lakes sprinkled throughout town, following the well designed walkways as they wound their way around the waterways, passing ancient pagodas and crossing elaborately designed bridges which curved across the water. Along the Li River we came upon groups intently practicing their Tai Chi as if mimicking Marcel Marceau while bands of locals congregated for impromptu concerts, with everyone singing away and banging on metal containers or plucking away on inventive stringed instruments. Along the muddy banks fishermen plugged away in the murky depths with home made bamboo poles, resourcefully winding their string around a coke can instead of a reel. Most surprising was the dance class which kept recycling the classic Ricky Martin tune ‘She Bangs’ from a beat up old boom box, as the smiling partners flirtatiously whirled and swirled around the brick pavement under the shelter of the trees, the kinetic energy of their passion joyously twirling their skirts.‘Seven Star Park’, so named for the seven peaks allegedly resembling the Big Dipper constellation, is the most famous and the most popular park in town. The most interesting parts were the caves adorned with thousand year old cultural graffiti, calligraphy and other inscriptions carved into the rocks by ancient poets and artists. The panda bears in the zoo are the other draw here, although I found the rock collection far more interesting. Three buildings house an amazing collection of stones in all sizes, split and polished and set on masterfully carved wood bases. Besides the crystals and the huge hunks of polished jade, many of the rocks reveal inner landscapes or with a little more imagination, caricatures of people or animals. Still, there’s this unsettling juxtaposition of ancient history meets modern merchandising as the entire park is littered with hundreds of fiberglass/plastic life size, colorful, half human, half insect spooky characters wherever you turn as if a Chinese Disneyland replete with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It’s evident that families bring their kids here in quest to have their pictures taken in front of every one of these very popular mascots, always with the upraised hand and the ‘V’ for victory symbol. I’m also sure that replicas of these mascots are sold in every one of the souvenir shops on the grounds. A popular business venture in town is offering cruises along the Li River ranging from one hour to five hours. Like any tour you have varying degrees of comfort from no frills to luxurious. Boats line up early in the morning for the five hour run up to Yangshuo, as they cruise together as if tethered like a string of pack animals, with guide commentary blaring out over tinny speakers. We thought it was pleasant enough just to walk along the banks of the river and enjoy the sights without having to partake in a cruise.Despite the fact that every other building and shop seemed to be China Mobile, we had a challenging time figuring out our cell phone, mostly due to a failure to communicate. We had purchased our cell phone in Singapore and gotten accustomed to buying new SIM cards along the way – a SIM card being a new phone number for your phone from a particular country which you just pop into your phone (and which in America AT&T charges you a $100 fee to do). Finally, we stumbled on a nice young lady who spoke perfect English, and were able to buy a new SIM card and additional minutes. Evidently, the new phone number is only good within the province, so we’ll have to buy a new SIM card when we move to other locations.My wife has been patiently trying to replenish some of her prescriptions before they run out, and that opportunity provides daily comic relief and an opportunity to interact with the locals. Arriving at a drug store, we ask around if anyone understands English, then show our prescription name. Usually, they have a huge drug book which cross references the English name into its Chinese equivalent, but, unfortunately, they never seem to have the drug in stock. Every time we pass something that even resembles a drug store, we size it up and weigh whether or not we should even attempt it.China will be a challenging segment of our adventure but we’re ready for the unexpected pleasures along with the missteps and expect to get far with patience and a smiling attitude. Clean, compact and modern Guilin, an ancient city dating back to 200 BC, is an intriguing and comfortable introduction to Chinese culture, with enough sites and pleasures to occupy you for a few days before heading over to Yangshuo. Beguiling Guilin indeed. Close
Written by kylebarber on 06 Jul, 2001
When I went downstairs to work out in the gym, I was dismayed to find very little equipment and that the facilities were closing early. But the "health sauna" staff suggested I get a massage for 500 yen, and for a full ninety minutes…Read More
When I went downstairs to work out in the gym, I was dismayed to find very little equipment and that the facilities were closing early. But the "health sauna" staff suggested I get a massage for 500 yen, and for a full ninety minutes that’s pretty cheap compared to American prices. It turns out the masseuse was actually very good, too.
First they had me change and shower, trying to help with every step of the process, which was pretty akward and uncomfortable. They sent me to a sauna with a glass of water and cold hand towel. Then they pushed the "additional" services. "Back rub" was an extra 80 yen, which seemed to me to be the same thing as a massage. But then they said "boy masseuse" so I figured I had to fork over the extra money for a vigorous massage rather than a soothing massage. After I agreed to pay the extra money I found out they meant I was going to to be rubbed violently with a terry cloth mitten, which I halted after a minute. While I like to try new experiences, this just really hurt.
They sent me to the masseuse area next, which almost seemed like a house of prostitution. Dimly lit and sensuous music playing lightly, I figure these services must appeal to horny Chinese men. Well, the masseuse was all professional, and really dug into my knots. She didn’t use so much force but knew right where to poke my aching muscles. After ninety minutes of this I was half-asleep from relaxation (and from being up since 4:00 AM that morning). I had a difficult time walking down the hall afterwards for I was so relaxed.
Written by Quan on 10 Jan, 2001
The limestone peaks depicted in many brochures are justly famous. The spectacular landscape, dominated by perpendicular stone outcroppings known as the Jade Mountains, that seemed to jut straight out of the green, undulating Li River, immediately recalled the gracious brushwork of China past.…Read More
The limestone peaks depicted in many brochures are justly famous. The spectacular landscape, dominated by perpendicular stone outcroppings known as the Jade Mountains, that seemed to jut straight out of the green, undulating Li River, immediately recalled the gracious brushwork of China past.
The outcroppings are the result of millennium of erosion by water and wind. It is the land of the mythic, where each outcropping gives rise to images of huts on top of the mountain, where sages in the guise of Taoist monks or martial arts masters build their own domain, away from the tiring and competing call of the rest of society. It is a place where these wise men (and they are invariably men in those days) would gather to discuss life, nature, immortality, and dreamed of wise sayings for us to still follow into the 21st century. You can admire the mountains from the Li River Cruise, or visit their peaks individually.
Written by Aquilania on 18 Dec, 2008
I went to Longji Terrace two weeks ago. The terraces are absolutely incredible, they are all located on mountains which are over 700 meters high. When I was in the shuttle bus which sent us to the start point I could see the deep valleys…Read More
I went to Longji Terrace two weeks ago. The terraces are absolutely incredible, they are all located on mountains which are over 700 meters high. When I was in the shuttle bus which sent us to the start point I could see the deep valleys are just beside us. When several turns came the bus was so near the edge of the valleys that I thought I was going to fall in!!!Anyway, we arrived at our start point. It's already 300 hendred meters high and there is still a height of 500 meters to climb. I like climbing becasue it make me healthier and I can take photos from the top of mountains.About 3 hours later, I was standing on the peak, it is the very place I read on http://www.chinahighlights.com/guilin/attraction/longji-terraced-field.htm. Do you want to see the photos I take? please see them at http://photos.igougo.com/pictures-m619680-Aquilania-travel_photos.html Close
Written by ppppd on 17 Apr, 2010
I see there many friends are confusing on tours in Yangshuo Guilin. I lived there for almost 2 years, so I share some my ideas here. For what to see and what to do in Yangshuo, as well as when to go? Many friends…Read More
I see there many friends are confusing on tours in Yangshuo Guilin. I lived there for almost 2 years, so I share some my ideas here. For what to see and what to do in Yangshuo, as well as when to go? Many friends will have the same questions. The best time to visit Yanshuo is from April to October. Definitely, there are so many attractions in Yangshuo for you to see, such as Li River, Yulong River, Moon Hill and some ancient towns etc. For tour itinerary, I recommend you take a loot at Yangshuo Hidden Dragon Villa’s website: www.yangshuocountrysidehotel.com They have the very nice bike tour itinerary, hike & boat tour itinerary in details. If you love photographing in Yangshuo, they also have shoot itinerary for your reference. At the same time, you can explore more interesting things to do in Yangshuo area, especially cycling around countryside, making a trip on Li River or Dragon River. What to eat in Yangshuo? we recommend you try the Roof Garden Restaurant outside of Yangshuo town, we have some very tasty local dishes in Yangshuo Guilin as well as a wide selection of western foods. Luna Italian restaurant is nice as well in Moon Hill. So the next, where to sleep in Yangshuo? We kindly remind you Yangshuo town itself is noisy, if you'd like to break away from the hustle and bustle of Yangshuo town and enjoy authentic countryside scenery and life. We recommend you to choose one countryside hotel since there are some nice countryside Yangshuo hotels, such as Yangshuo Hidden Dragon Villa , Dragon River Retreat, Yangshuo Mountain Retreat, Yangshuo Village Inn. At last but least, how to get to Yangshuo China ? There is no Airport or Train Station in Yangshuo, but you can take a plane or train to Guilin City first, and then we can order one taxi or min-van to pick you up at Guilin airport. The transports to our Yangshuo will take 1 hours through the new super high way, and you can enjoy the beautiful views along the way from Guilin to Yangshuo. Enjoy your Yangshuo tours & safe travel ! Close
Written by freetrekker on 13 May, 2009
Day 1 Upon arrival at Guilin airport, my buddy James and I directly drove to that so-called "the Palace of Natural Arts". When we walked step by step and looked at beautifully or strange rock formations, we couldnt help imaging that we were into…Read More
Day 1 Upon arrival at Guilin airport, my buddy James and I directly drove to that so-called "the Palace of Natural Arts". When we walked step by step and looked at beautifully or strange rock formations, we couldnt help imaging that we were into another world. It wasnt dark at all, cuz numerous coloful lights enlightening the dark cave. The most amazing thing was you could even see reflections of all those rocks. Day 2 Next early morning, we were cruising on world famous Li River and paid a short visit to some local villages in Yangshuo. Quite interesting this time, we were cool. My buddy james is a photographer,. He took loads of pictures for me, me and local women, men and kids, even local dogs. hehe.. Got to see what I looked like in his pictures. Day 3 Our last day in Yanghsuo. I bet you all know this place. Maybe you all just know its long, wining li river or what else. But I'm sure you will get excited when you enjoy climbing competition held in Yangshuo. Moon Hills, Fubo Hill, Elephant Trunk Hill, all these weird shaped hills become challenges to all climbing lovers. We wanted to try that one, but you know, I'm such a lazy person. Better just see them than hold them. See ya everyone, I'd like to share more with you guys, 'specially those places u never known in China. Close