Guangxi - A Pause in Guilin
Trip Start Oct 22, 2012
23Trip End Ongoing
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Direct bus from Yangshuo to Guilin, ¥20.
I was back in Guilin to get my Sony lens repaired but Sony service centre in Guilin reqiured a week or two as they needed to send it to Guangzhou for repair. Not willing to wait that long, I opted for a third-party repair service that required only a day. Unfortunately, the service man could not get the lens to working conditions as he did not have spares for a broken parts. As a result, I spent another day searching every digital camera shop for a cheap and usable kit lens (18-55 mm), though the photo quality was not as good as my travel lens (16-105 mm).
On one of the days, I went with Xia Tian to outside of Elephant Trunk Hill (象鼻山) - yes, outside! - to take a look at a hill that everybody claimed to be a must-see sight in Guilin. The hill sat next to the Li River (漓江) and had a hole in it just above the water, which made the hill looked like an elephant with its trunk in the water. This sight could be easily seen from the road but was fenced up with trees to obscure the full "elephant trunk" from public view. Tourists were slapped with a steep ¥75 per person to see the hill unobscured. We glimpsed the partial elephant trunk and walked away.
The temperature in Guilin had dropped these days and people were moving around in warm clothing. But such temperature was cooling to me so I still walked around in my t-shirt. I learnt to ignore the eyes that looked at me as though I was from Mars. Well, they could not possibly know that I was not a China Chinese.
My stay at Guilin This Old Place Youth Hostel was an unforgettable one. There were activities between staff and guests and I felt like I was staying in an old friend's house. Apart from the dumpling-wrapping party - that I took part in about two weeks ago - we also went out for a hot-wok dinner and a supper together with other lone guests. Lone travelers did not have to be alone all the time.
05/11/2012 (Mon) - Yulong River Cruise in Yangshuo
I decided to put my new lens to full test and made a trip back to Yangshuo (阳朔), partly to complete the interrupted journey, partly to see if the lens was in working conditions.
Non-stop bus service from Guilin to Yangshuo, ¥20. Followed by local bus to Jinlong Bridge (金龙桥), ¥6.
It was said that rafting along Yulong River (遇龙河划伐) was very picturesque but it fell short of my expectation - especially after I spent three days in Xingping (兴坪). The price for hiring a raft was a staggering ¥200 per person at the ticket office. I managed to bargain the price down to ¥120 with the rafter, although some local travelers had successfully lowered it to ¥70 (possible only during off-peak seasons).
Anyway, for only ¥120, the rafter was unwilling to go further down river to an old town called Jiuxian Village (旧县村), which I had to forgo. But since I had visited Huangyao Old Town (黄姚古镇), it was not a lost to me not to visit Jiuxian.
The calm river surface produced nice reflections of the mountains along the river. Other than that, the scenery was not as majestic as those along the Li River near Xingping (兴坪). The main objective of the rafter was to maneuver the raft over a small fall and allowed a photo of me to be taken by a photographer who was stationed opposite the tiny fall - that was what rafting in Yulong River was all about. It was unfortunate that Yangshuo was so touristy - a hunger for tourist money. I returned to Guilin right after the rafting.
A check on the weather forecast revealed that Longji (龙脊) will be having rainy days for the next few days, but I decided to go ahead to Longji Rice Terraces (龙脊梯田) - betting on the forecast to be inaccurate. Xia Tian would be going back to Chongqing the following day and we parted ways after almost two weeks of traveling together.