Noilly Prattle: China 2017: 19 – Guilin

Monday, July 17, 2017

China 2017: 19 – Guilin

     The name Guilin is internationally famous for its karst limestone mountain landscape. The rounded shape of the many mountain peaks that run north-south along the Li Jiang (Li River) seem to look like goosebumps or berserk rounded mushrooms. Guilin itself, however, is basically just a big modern business-oriented city. Consequently we decided on only a brief couple-day stopover, before taking a 5-hour boat ride down the Li River for a 2-week stay in the smaller more charming city of Yangshuo.

China's high speed train the CRH
       Took the new high speed train from Sanjiangnan station to Guilin. The high speed train in China is called the CRH (China Rail High) and it took only around half an hour to go from San Jiang to Guilin at a top speed of 237km/h—very smooth and quiet. The fare was unbelievably cheap for a high speed train—only 27 Yuan ($3.98).

the winner is on the smart phone
       The high speed rail station is several kilometers outside of downtown Guilin and you have to take land transportation, bus or a taxi. Although there are official type metered taxis there are also a lot of hustlers trying to get you to take their car. That can work out to your advantage if you play the game—bargain that is. There are several hustlers competing with each other, so you can play them off against each other to get the best fare. We settled for 50 yuan and the winning guy got us straight to our hotel. Although the car was a bit old it got us there. (Notice that the taxi cost more than the high speed train.)

very nice view from our hotel room
Vitruvian man
       After settling into our hotel room at the Lijiang Waterfall Hotel we explored the immediate surroundings and wandered into a beautiful park composed of interlocking lakes and an extensive landscape garden—very picturesque. Back at the hotel bar it was great to relax with our first real cocktails since leaving home. Three weeks is a long time between drinks. We booked a boat with the hotel concierge for the trip down the Li Jiang to Yangshuo for 1000 Yuan including taxi to the boat landing and lunch on board.

natural rock formation-
reminded me of a dinosaur

       The following day we decided to do some local sightseeing a little farther out from the hotel. The two sites (Fubo Hill and Jingjiang Princes City) are both within walking distance of the Waterfall Hotel. Both were mostly interesting to me for their isolated karst mountain peaks. I thought a place called Jingjiang Princes City was pretty cool—a prince's palace with its own private karst mountain called appropriately enough Solitary Beauty Peak within the palace grounds. Imagine, a palace with its own private mountain!

Fubo Hill: Sword-Testing Rock
hangs from the ceiling,
nearly touching the ground.
Tai-Chi in the park

on a bright marble pavement shall we dance . . .
Jingjiang Princes City Gate
 Solitary Beauty Peak

       It rained overnight and in the morning. Foggy low-ceiling clouds obscured the karst mountains in the distance. Since the weather was being uncooperative and we had felt tired and out of sorts the previous evening, we decided to relax at the hotel an take advantage of their indoor pool. Great way to while away a rainy afternoon, hit the pool and do some laps—get off the feet and exercise the whole body—very restorative.

       Found a wonderful beef and noodle shop on the pedestrian arcade near the hotel. A little back alley place that you wouldn't find if you couldn't read the Chinese characters for beef 牛肉 and noodles. But the shop had a clear big red neon 牛肉 sign with an arrow pointing the way. (Both of us, especially Road Buddy, can read enough Chinese characters for the basics of travel.) The shop was crowded and busy (a sign of a good restaurant). Interestingly many of the diners were Muslims. There were even a couple of Middle Eastern types and I didn't feel the least threatened with terra-ism. There was a very exotic looking and very pregnant waitress with a bright red hijab wobbling around and serving customers. The place was fascinating and the food was delicious.

Lijiang Waterfall Hotel
       On the way way back we walked around the colorfully lighted park across the street from the hotel. The colors and reflections in the water droplets on the leaves and in the water of the lake were enchanting. We take the boat down the Li Jiang to Yangshuo—a 4½ + hour ride downstream—in the morning.

romantic night view from our hotel room

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