This weekend I was planning on going to Beijiing but ended up going somewhere completely different. I was eating my beef noodles one day and looking at the pictures on the 元20 note. One side has a photo of Guilin and it looked nice so after a couple of Google image searches I ended up booking a flight.
Everywhere in China you hear people coughing up phleghm and spitting. Sitting on a plane surrounded by people constantly spitting in the sick bags and shouting at each other makes flying so stressful. Oh yea and the whole plane eating as loud as they can isn’t a nice thing to listen to either.
I got into Guilin late and it felt like the taxi driver from the airport almost broke the land speed record. No seat belts and the driving was shocking. First thing that hit getting out of the taxi is the humidity. Back in 100% humidity again; great. I didn’t expect China to be more humid than Thailand.
Before coming here I knew nothing about Guilin. I ended up tagging along with the hostel owner taking someone to Yao mountain outside of the city. For about £10 you can go up a chairlft on the biggest mountain in the area and get a view of the city. Going up the chairlift was an amazing view but as soon as I got to the top a load of fog rolled in, blocking out the view.
Going back down the mountain was a bit of a disappointment. There’s a slide most of the way down but it was too wet so the chairlift had to do. On the way down the clouds were clearing and you could start to see again. Off in the distance amongst the clouds you can see hundreds of mountains and it’s hard to take a photo that shows how amazing the view was. It was amazing but the view was nothing compared to going along the Li river.
Li River Cruise
Guilin is famous for the Li river so early the next morning I headed out to a river cruise to the nearby town of Yangshuo. China is cheap but this boat cruise was 元40 (about £45) which is a bit steep but I went on it anyway. It was a guided tour which I try and avoid but this is rural China and I would rather pay and not end up stranded somewhere.
First the coach pulled into what looked like an abandoned communist building. Overgrown trees everywhere and smashed windows it looked more like something out of lost. They lead us through the abandoned building to a boat on the river. Normally this would have been a bit dodgy but this is China so anything goes I guess.
About 10 minutes after the boat set off it was going through some amazing scenery. By the time the boat got to the most scenic spots the rain had cleared just enough to wipe off my camera lense and take some photos. Either side of the river there are hundreds of mountains with the clouds and fog running between them. Photos don’t show how it felt, I need a better lense.
Every 10 minutes the Chinese tour guide would come over and shout down her megaphone telling me about the mountains. People find patterns in everything and these mountains are no exception. She was showing me cammel mountains and all sorts. I just saw mountains and agreed with what ever she told me.
The boat ride lasted about 4 hours and we pulled into Yangshuo. This little town is just for show for the tourists and it was full of German pubs selling £6 pints. It was a 4 hour wait for the return back so I ended up going on some cave tour to waste some time. It wasn’t anything special.
Driving back to Guilin from Yangshuo was an experience. At one point the driver decided to overtake 3 cars on a bend with a lorry coming in the other direction. Nobody on the coach even noticed, I think they just don’t give a shit here.
Nanning & Onwards
Guilin is a small city so I decided to go south to the capitol city of the region; Nanning. Guilin to Nanning on high speed rail is 3 hours and cost 元108 (about £11) which is a fraction of the price of European high speed rail. Pulling into Nanning everywhere looks different to Guilin. It’s much more like a SEA country and it had the heat to match. Less humid than Guilin and way hotter but much nicer. Nanning is just an average city, I didn’t do much and spent the time looking where to go next.
Hanoi is an overnight journey on the train or there was a cheap flight to Thailand. Vietnam has a visa waiver program for British passport holders but it’s only for 15 days and it expires this month. I didn’t wan’t to risk going to Vietnam to get denied entry so instead I opted for a flight to Chonburi, Thailand. Pattaya has a reputation for being full of dirty old men with their thai brides so it should be a laugh. A few nights in Pattaya then i’ll head off to proper Thailand.
China. It’s been good and I want to return already, maybe i’ll go back again later in the year.