Guilin - The Landscape of Limestone Hills
Trip Start Sep 08, 2009
67Trip End May 31, 2010
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After the hustle and bustle of Beijing and Xi'an our next stop was the quieter Guangxi Zhuang province in southern China. Despite our love for long train journeys this time we opted for the quicker option and braved China Southern airways direct to Guilin. (We spent some time picking a flight with a larger jet in the hope it would be safer... maybe a little paranoid but it worked)
Guilin is a small town in Chinese terms, just 600,000 people, it is surrounded by an amazing landscape of limestone karsts / hills. The picturesque countryside, combined with the increase in temperature, make the place a lot more relaxing than Beijing or Xi’an.
After checking into the lovely Riverside Hostel (yes, another hostel, but still not in a dormitory), we headed out into the town to explore
We did find some great restaurants in the city however and enjoyed the best beef in black bean sauce ever on two occasions in a place with no live animals on show (we don’t want to know if they’re out the back)
One of the towns main sights is the Seven Star Park, which is a 120 hectare park with limestone hills and caves
The highlight of our stay in Guilin was the day trip on the Li River down to Yangshao. We joined a tour group for a 5 hour cruise and lunch on the river, passing more of the limestone scenery, rice fields, water buffalo etc. We were very excited about the trip, demonstrated in the fact we got up at about 7am for it, something neither of us have done for several weeks now
The water level of the Li River was very low when we were there so the fleet of ships had to weave along the river in a narrow line at first to keep to the deep parts – it was very amusing to see this set in the peaceful surroundings. After the first hour the boats spread out, and fortunately we were on a tourist boat which was not at all crowded, so we could enjoy the trip in peace. Well relative peace broken mostly by random Chinese people appearing outside the windows trying to hawk garish vases and ugly jade coloured statues. These guys repeatedly appeared by paddling their bamboo rafts close to the boat and then hooking them on. This meant that they could stand outside the boat for a while and offer exactly the same thing as the last bloke who was now further up river offering his to the next boat. Needless to say we haggled well and got one for each set of parents to put pride of place on their mantle pieces (only joking).
In Yangshao, we visited one of the local villages and then took to the water again, this time in a bamboo raft! This was amazing, especially as the bamboo raft moved gently on the water with no engine to spoil the peace. We even survived when Simon was allowed to drive for a while. We were taken to some local farmers who let you feed their buffalo. The day was rounded off by a display of cormorant fishing, which even if you do know what the trick is, still looks impressive. We made our way home on the bamboo raft (well not all the way, although we would have like to try) and got ready for our next move... the Longji Rice Terraces.