China is full of surprises. And people. Gosh, the crowd! Now, I don’t mean to slime China, it being the root of my family tree where all my ancestors were from Guangzhou. But let’s just say one trip for me anywhere in China and it will take me a long, long time before I psyche myself up for another.
With that out of the way, I need to let you know all my pictures and videos from Guilin and Yang Shuo were chucked out when I down-sized my life. The wonderful pictures you see here are free for download from Pixabay and if you click on them, it would take you to the source. Blessed are these amazing photographers who share so freely! If you are one of them reading this, like they say in China, ‘(wan sui), 万岁, 万岁, 万万岁’, may you live a long life!
I flew into Guilin on a domestic flight from Kunming
I was in Kunming, my entry point from Singapore, and I ended up making a very memorable trip. I went all over Yunnan to Dali, Lijiang, Shangri-La, etc, etc, with a whole busload of locals and me the only foreign Asian Chinese who looked Chinese but wait till she opened her mouth to speak and everyone had no doubt she’s a farang. Not that my Chinese was that baaaadd but let’s just say it could be better. Ha ha ha.
The other thing is you really need to travel with the locals to know what’s it all about. China is so crazy and scary. It’s like sometimes I see things that make me question how much value they place on a human life. It can get quite awful. But then I was forewarned, asked twice by the tour agent if this was really what I wanted, a tour with the locals. My verdict: you really must try it. 😈
The day I decided to do China was when I said to myself I have to take learning Mandarin a bit more seriously and so I thought I would go to this school in Guilin for total immersion. I finally got to the school but couldn’t see myself going through the course. I had found out it wasn’t delivering what it promised which was supposed to be a joint program with the University of Guilin down the road.
Instead what I got was a private language centre that fleeced gullible foreigners with its overpriced and overhyped Mandarin courses. And I got conned! I could have stayed in Singapore and be equally fleeced. Thankfully, I hadn’t paid for the course as yet. So I hightailed it out of there as soon as I had done Yang Shuo and was so ready to move on.
Yang Shuo is just a bus ride from Guilin.
Yang Shuo is a tiny town. But big on surreal. Its main attraction is really the river. To be able to ride up and down that river in a traditional boat that one sees so often in movies is an out-of-this-world experience. How could such a beautiful place exist! Such clean, clear air, such sharp clarity all around! And to hire a raft all for just one person, me, is even more amazing to the locals. I mean, I was travelling alone for the simple reason I didn’t want frivolous conversation.
For me to even attempt to take a bus all by myself here from Guilin twice! is even more astounding given that I do not read Chinese well and the bus station was a mess. But made it I did by asking around. And I had a pretty good time, too, with my stay at Yang Shuo. It was on the second trip that I decided I would stay for a week and then get back to my dorm room in Guilin to collect the rest of my stuff before flying out. Needless to say, I had to pay to keep that dorm room, too.
No regrets!The only snag at Yang Shuo was the meals. I had taken a room on the top floor of a hotel over at the quieter end of the town although the price was just about as steep as at the busy end. So if I wanted something that was not too oily or spicy then I had to take a longish walk out to the town centre.
So I rented a bicycle. It was the best option to get around. I went everywhere on that bicycle.
And it’s also true. Those ancient wooden buildings you see in Chinese period movies like The Red Lantern are real. They exist. Once you are done with the boat ride, you should go exploring what’s on the bank. The end of the river run should take you there. That’s where they drop folks off. There is an entire maze of quaint old streets, with very authentic and ancient Chinese architecture which you hope they have the wisdom to preserve. I saw at least one film crew there.
~ ॐ ~