Chifan le ma?
(It's a Chinese greeting, it's a way to say how are you, but literally it means "have you eaten rice yet?". Brilliant.)
We have arrived in Guilin
, after a 24-hour train ride from Chengdu. The soft-sleeper wasn't so soft this time, but at least we had bottom berths so we weren't too uncomfortable. Very cute guy in the same compartment, without a word of English unfortunately. The train was old and dirty. There was no English menu or English-speaking staff, so after a breakfast of fried dough and muddy rice-soup (ordered thanks to my phrasebook), we decided to skip the restaurant wagon and lived on fruit for the rest of the day.
It's warm in Guilin, and green. It's a small town surrounded by hills and rivers, where the people are more relaxed (and they spit much less in the street, which helps one's opinion).
On the first day we took it easy and just went for a walk, played pool, chatted... we really needed to relax and catch up on some sleep. We stopped by the river to watch and open-air show, involving mainly tai chi, but with traditional dancing and some singing too.
On Friday we walked to Elephant Hill
, a rocky hill which resembles an elephant. There's a legend
that the elephant came down from the sky to help the people of Guilin, who were suffering. The main God didn't like his attitude and turned him into stone as he was drinking from the river. Poor Dumbo. While we were there climbing and admiring the view, a guy asked to take a picture with us. This was the start of a particularly eventful day.
We had lunch in a lovely pedestrian street (to which we returned everyday), full of shops. We spotted a beauty salon and decided to have our eyebrows
done, the Chinese way. The girls were very precise, as you can imagine, so we walked out of the shop with amazing and perfectly shaped eyebrows.
Afterwards we walked to the Peak of Solitary Beauty
park, which is inside the grounds of the University
. It's lovely but the view from the top was not as good as we expected, especially as a reward after all the stairs!
Obviously the eyebrows were attracting a lot of male attention, because we were asked to feature in about 4 different pictures by guys and men (one of whom was gorgeous!) and then were invited to play ping-pong
with 3 students. I had fun playing for a while, but we had to decline their offer of going out in the evening.
After this rewarding day, we decided to stay 2 extra nights in Guilin.
On Saturday we went to Seven Star park
, which has seven hills placed in a similar way to the constellation ( you know which one). The most interesting thing in it was Camel Hill
, a rocky hill shaped like... you guessed it, a camel! Everything here has an imaginative shape, nine dragons playing in the water, roosters fighting, a boy praying, a girl waiting for her husband (!). The people of Guilin are obviously very poetic.
Today (Sunday) we visited the Red Flute Cave
, a beautiful, huge cave with well placed lights. It's out of the way so it's best to rent a bike to reach it. Definitely worth it.
Tomorrow we go on a cruise on the Li River, and then stop in the village of Yangshuo for a couple of days, before heading to Vietnam. Very exciting, although in all honesty I'll be sad to leave China, I love it :)
Until next time.