A Travellerspoint blog

Guilin

28 °C

We originally intended to take the train from Shanghai to Guilin, but we soon found out that it would take twenty seven hours and the price was almost the same as a flight. Naturally we opted to fly. I’ll come back later on how easy (correction: not easy) it is to take the train. Our flight into Guilin on Monday was delayed by three hours. As a result we didn’t get to our hostel until after ten that night. There’s not a lot to do here, but it lies on the west bank of the Li river, which is billed as one of the best nature attractions in China. We booked ourselves on two tours. We spent Tuesday travelling to Yangshuo, initially by bus and then on a ninety minute bamboo raft which include some stunning scenery. It’s very similar to Halong Bay in Vietnam. The pictures below will give you an idea.

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Yangshuo is surrounded by some beautiful countryside, making it an attractive place for tourists to visit. Unfortunately it’s become a victim of its own success. The area is surrounded by western tourists and every Chinese person in the area is out to sell to you. One old lady caught me queuing for the toilet so I had to suffer ten minutes of saying 'no' to the two wooden ducks she wanted me to buy. We had a wander around the shops, ate a nice lunch, took a bike ride and indulged in a fish spa. Alberto found it a little bit tickly.

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On Wednesday we took a trip to the Longji rice fields. It’s a long day. We took one bus to a central station, changed for a second, got off shortly after and walked for thirty minutes and then took a third bus up to the fields. We were also the only western passengers which didn’t make the transfers easier but some of the Chinese tourists spoke English and were really kind to us, helping us order food, find our way etc. You take a gondola up to a look out point. The view is awesome. This tour felt a lot more authentic than the Li River and is one of the highlights of our trip so far.

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Yeah soz about that pic...

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The paps won't leave me alone over here. We also made a new friend.

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Three nights in Guilin was perfect. We stayed in the Ming Palace Hostel. You'd find more craic in a graveyard but it's still a good place to stay and relax after the long tours. I mentioned earlier about booking trains. To cut a long story short, you need to book everything as far in advance as you can. Every train journey seems to sell out fast. As we couldn’t take a train directly to HK we had to book a second that would take us close to the border. This second train was oversold and unfortunately we had to wait four hours for a later one. I was told many times about how you’d have to get to the train station a few hours in advance to pick up tickets etc. due to huge queues. I had heard it so many times I was starting to wonder if getting off the Titanic would be easier.

Well, there were long queues, it felt like fifty degree heat (no air con inside), nobody had a word of English and there was even a dramatic fight going on in the middle of the room. We could only find one Western man and he didn’t know where to go either, despite having what seemed like a Chinese aide to help him. After lots of hand gestures, question mark signals and pointing at our pieces of paper we managed to find our way. Two train rides later we crossed the border in Hong Kong, took two metro rides into HK Central and from there a taxi to my friend John's apartment (living here over a year now). Given how bad I am at following directions I'm actually quite proud of doing all of that! The whole journey took fourteen hours. John has very kindly put us up for the next six nights so we can't wait to explore HK with him.

Lost in Translation:

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Posted by mattld 00:57 Archived in China

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Comments

Love your travel blog Matty!.. Hong Kong Train 'Question Mark' haha I can just imagine it.

by Phil

Thanks Philly! Of course you know me too well. You'll be featuring in the Indonesian edition :D

by mattld

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