We arrived in Guilin via plane, flying in from Chengdu after having a great time seeing Giant Pandas, visiting some lovely mountains and seeing some beautiful scenery. Guilin is the same, just without the big fluffy Pandas. The plane journey went down without a hitch, not a single issue with my diabetes or getting my injections through security. If you read my last post you’d know that they pulled my main backpack up before it went through to go in the hold because of the battery in my spare BM kit. This time I put everything with a battery in my hand luggage, including my head torch and there was not a problem, it seems the Chinese are more worried about batteries on planes then they are about needles.
We landed in Guilin at 8:30am and organised with our hostel to get picked up for ¥70. There was a lady waiting with my name at the airport’s exit and 45 minutes later we were at our hostel, Sky Palace. It is so named as it’s on the 7th floor, with a roof terrace, bar/restaurant and big spacious, clean, air-conditioned rooms. I would highly recommend it. We spent the first day, as always, getting our bearings, finding the best cheap supermarkets, checking out the public transport options and finding some nice restaurants we wanted to visit. After Guilin we planned to go to Hong Kong, so we booked a train to Shenzhen online, leaving 4 days later, as this is the closest city to Hong Kong, but more about that in my next post. In the evening, as the sun was setting we took a walk to the Sun and Moon Pagodas to see them illuminated at night. They are situated on a lake next to some towering skyscrapers. This is classic China, a mix of the past and present which seems to happen everywhere.
In the morning we got up and had some breakfast in the hostel. Muesli with fresh fruit and 2 slices of toast. Perfect for a day of exploring. However I didn’t take into account the amount of natural sugar in the fruit, well I did, but I didn’t realise how much fruit I ate, therefore my sugar level ran a bit high later in the day. We caught a bus, number 100 for ¥2, to Guilin North station to pick up our train tickets for Shenzhen. This was so we knew how to get to the station on the day we were leaving, and we didn’t have to worry about queuing for our tickets with our big bags. From here we caught the no.100 bus back to the city centre and jumped on the number 3 bus for ¥1, to see the Reed Flute Caves. We had no idea where we were getting off, but got quite lucky as there was a friendly local on the bus who spoke a bit of English and told us when to get off. You can ask your hostel to write Reed Flute Caves in Mandarin and show it to the bus driver, who will then tell you when to get off. From the bus stop walk about 200m on the same side of the road and go up some big stone stairs. Once at the top you’ll see a ticket office. Tickets are ¥150 which I thought was incredibly expensive for a cave, but it was really nice inside. We got there about 1pm so to have the natural air-con in the cave was a relief from the 38 degrees outside. Once out the cave there’s a few little walks you can do and some bamboo rafting across a lake if you wish. You can then jump on the number 3 bus back to the city, remembering where you got on.
The following day we had booked a trip to the Longji Rice Terraces. We could have done this independently, but for pretty much the same price we booked a Chinese tour. This got us a lift to the entrance 3 hours away, then another 40 minute bus through to the bottom of the rice terraces. From here we had 2 hours to explore the area and the surrounding villages. You could walk up to the top of the mountain, through the terraces but this takes a long time. We jumped on a cable car up the mountain, ¥110 for a return ticket and the scenery was amazing, it’s a great opportunity to get some photos from above. Once up the top you can take a walk through the terraces, marveling at the engineering that took the Chinese 700 years to perfect. It really is incredible. From here it was a 3 hour bus back to Guilin, well it took us 4 hours as there was a crash on one of the mountain roads.
On our last full day in Guilin we decided we wanted to visit Yangshuo, by taking a 5 hour cruise down the Li River. We paid ¥300 at the hostel, again with a Chinese tour. A boat ticket on its own cost ¥210, so the extra ¥90 got us a lift to the port and lunch on the boat. I think it was worth the extra money just for the ease of it. Food on the boat is expensive but you could take your own pack lunch. The cruise itself was lovely. We sat outside at the front of the boat, with the wind blowing in our hair whilst still enjoying the sun. The scenery was amazing, there were rocky peaks poking up everywhere, water buffalo chilling at the side of the river and there was some other great wildlife as well. The scenery is so nice it is depicted on the back of the ¥20 note. The cruise was scheduled to leave at 09:20 and we arrived in Yangshuo around 14:30. Once there we went for a coffee and some fried peanuts in a cafe, visited a lovely waterfall flowing into the river and had a look around the scenic town. I would say you could easily spend a couple of nights there, but we had to get back to Guilin for our train to Hong Kong the following day. To get back from Yangshuo to Guilin you can jump on the express bus service from Yangshuo North Bus Station. The tickets cost ¥27, the bus is air-conditioned and takes anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours depending on traffic. If you find yourself at Yangshuo South Bus Station you can jump on bus number 5, costing ¥1 and this will take you to the north station. You arrive in Guilin Bus Station and the no.10 and 11 buses take you to parliament bridge, which is only 5 stops away. I would highly recommend Yangshuo and try to stay there at least one night if you can.
We are now attempting to get out train to Shenzhen, then onto Hong Kong but our train has been delayed yet again. There has been a typhoon battering Hong Kong and we are catching the edge of the tropical storm here in Guilin, so we’ll have to see how this goes. Check back soon to find out what happens!!!