We arrived in Guilin after a 12-hour long train ride in a sleeper compartment where we occupied the top bunk (three bunks per side, 6 total).
The city itself is located on the Li River and surrounded by karst landscape (hills created by water erosion). Barely anyone spoke English (we’re getting used to it – maybe it’s time to learn some Chinese 🙂 as the city targets towards Chinese tourists.
There were only a few things to see – Elephant Hill, Reed Flute Cave and Pagodas. Kama did manage to find a restaurant with good Wes.., err, Chinese food that she enjoyed (and no, it wasn’t McDonald nor KFC).
We spent only a couple of days there and then we took a bus (after a victorious fight with the hawkers trying to scam us into buying tickets from them for a higher price) to Yangshuo.
This city is like paradise – with its gorgeous mountainous surroundings and rivers. We took a tour which started off with biking to the bamboo rafts. We left our bikes behind and headed down the Yulong River on the raft.
It was a relaxing ride aside from the roller-coaster-like mini waterfalls we’ve experienced on the way down. We stopped for a short snack of fish and beer (only 3.3% alcohol). The entire rafting trip took about an hour.
When we got onshore we discovered to our delight that our bikes (which we presumed were MIA) were waiting for us. We hoped on and biked our way to the Water Cave ticketing office. Our tour bus picked us up and took us on a hair-raising ride from Hell (video to be uploaded soon) – the road was extremely bumpy and the bus’ shock-absorbers were non-existent.
The Water Cave is accessible only by a boat and the ceiling is pretty low at the entrance. Once inside it was very dark but enormous. There was a lot of pools (Derek took a swim there), waterfalls, mud bath (Derek managed to dip one foot in and decided “naaah”) and hot spring (still undecided on the source of the heat – either natural or boiler .. hmm). We spent half-an-hour relaxing in the hot spring then headed back out.
We are now leaving Yangshuo and heading to Xi’an – the former capitol of China where we plan on seeing the Terracotta Warriors. The trip there will take 27 hours on the train and hopefully we won’t get mad by the end of it.