Brightly Light Cave and Hill Tops above Li River
Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
257Trip End Jan 31, 2012
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Where I stayed
wada international hostel
Took an overnight train from Beijing to Guilin which had me sitting on a train for 28hrs. Started out from Beijing around 9am and arrived in Guilin around 1pm the next day.
Had the top (of 3 hard sleeper bunks) in the train. Unfortunately this didnt give me much of a view out the window since I was above the top of it. Found the bed not to be as hard as I thought it might be, though I did end up with a bit of a sore back lying on it for most of the day. Guess the rocking and rolling of the train doesnt really give the muscles a chance to relax.
Spent most of the day reading and finishing the book Ive had sitting in my bag for at least the last 6 months. Read the guide book a little and managed to sit by a window seat for a while but besides that not really all that much to do on a train
Also found that the trains have a hot water tank where you can get hot water from for things like tea and noodles in a cup. This seemed a popular dinner option for the Chinese I was sharing the train with.
Day 1 - Wander around town, to much Rain
Nice thing about being able to see a train schedule online is that it gives you an idea of when the train will arrive at your stop. At least the earliest time you need to start worrying about whether you stop is about to come up or not. Arrived in town an hour later than expected and so had to make double sure I was getting off a the right stop before disembarking.
Appears that the weather had gotten progressively worse as I headed south and that it was pouring with rain when I arrived in Guilin. Walked in the rain to the hostel which wasnt to far away (1km) and after checking in looked up the weather forecast for the area. From that it appeared that the weather should be clearing the folllowing afternoon and fine for at least the following 2 days before more rain.Decided to do Yangshou first since I though the river would be nicer in the sun. Besides, given the visibity in Guilin with the rain, not sure how much visibility I'd get of the river if I visited when it was raining. Appears to me that rain also means poor visibility and lots of low cloud cover.
Spent some time in the hostel thinking about what I wanted to do over the coming weeks and when the rain eased up a bit decided to go for a wander
Went wandering along the street near the hostel and got rained on to varying degrees over the next couple of hours. Found it interesting to see people on motor bikes and scooters using umbrellas to keep the rain off their heads. Wander what people would think if someone tried something like that at home.
During the walk also passed lots of shop fronts with people working at either cutting wood, welding metal or fixing something or other. Had originally planned to head towards the city center but found that I had left my map at the hostel so decided to just head straight and hope for the best. Unfortunatley found later that I had had to go one street over to the right or at least walk back past the train center in order to head in the direction of the city center.
Anyways, had a few nice views if the landscape within which the town is located though for the most part it was obscured. Could see a number of large hills of limestone dotted around the place between the buildings, which in this part of town looked like your standard communist apartment blocks. Also saw a number of vendors on the streets selling fruit and food. As well as people playing a chinese version of chess.
After a couple of hours decided to call it a day and headed back to the hostel.
Day 2 - Reed Flute Cave, City Center, Pagodas, River Front, Old Wall and Folded Brocade Hill
Stopped raining but still cloudy this morning so decided to start the day by heading to the Reed Flute cave. Hostel told me which bus to take to get there. All I had to do was count off the 18 stops I needed to pass before reaching the place. Also had to hope the bus stopped at all stops for my count to be accurate. Thankfully it did since the bus has no bell to let the driver know someone wants to get off. Guess its a russsian design feature.
Bus took through the city center which looked quite busy and while I miscounted a bit, found that the mountain near the bus stop helped give it away. Also the fact that the bus route was on the bus sign and the stop names were in both chinese characters and english helped.
Near the cave entrance found people bamboo rafting and was approached to do the same though I turned them down. Instead headed up to the caves and found the entrance fee to be a bit steep at $14. Though as I'm finding out this seems to be the biggest expense of travelling in china. Can only guess that its like this because of the high number of chinese tourist that travel around China
Found the caves to be pretty high and have some interesting formations, expecially lots of large columns connecting the ceiling and floor. While one of the attractions of the place is the fact that the stalagtites and stalagmites are light up in bright colours (not to bad) I personally think I would have preferred more natural lighting.
Also found that it was best to tag along behind a tour group since some of the lighting was only turned on for say 10minutes when a guide used their key to unlock a control panel and switch the lighting on. Guess the lighting isnt permanently on to save electricity but it means a lot of things arent lit up if you walk through the caves by yourself.
Must say my favourite feature was the small body of water that was lite up and which reflected the stalagtites above it.
After making my way out wander along the trail that took me up the nearby hill. Had some reasonable views but unfortunately the trail stopped before reaching the top of the hill
Headed back down the hill and kept wandering down the road where I came across some rice fields. Guess the caves must be located at the outskirts of one end of the town.
Wandered around for a bit and caught the bus back to the city center. From here started out by walking along the edge of the lake that contained the towns two main pagodas. Continued down the towns main walking street and down to the river where I could see lots of bamboo boats and was approached on a number of occassions about taking a ride.
In the end wandered along the river for a while until I reached a wooden bridge that I decided to cross. This ended up putting me on a small island with lots of small village like houses. Also found a couple of guys fishing off the shore on the other side of the island.
Headed back and continued along the river up past the remaining part of the old town walls. This part of the town definately seems to have more character than the parts of town I wandered through the day before
After wandering the length of the wall decided to fork out the $10 to visit Folded Brocade Hill. This park basically had a couple of hills I could climb for a birds eye view of the city. Along the way also passed some buddas carved into a cave wall as well as a small buddist temple.
From the top of the first hill had a nice view of the river and Guilin city which was more spreed out than I expected. Seems the city covers both sides of the river and is randomly interrupted by steep hill of limestone sticking up in the middle of it. Spent some time at the top of two different hills in the park to take in the views. Also visited a small bird sanctury between the hills and a hole/cave cut into the underside of the second hill.
From here followed the river back and wandered past the Pagodas again. Had also hoped to get a look of elephant trunk hill but unfortunatley the side of the river I was on had a park (with an entrance fee) and the views of the hill provided inside the park were blocked off to the general public with a great big long wall of bamboo.
Eventually made my way back to the hostel before calling it a night.