Guilin

So I left Chengdu for the final time last week and won’t be returning. I’ll miss everyone I met there so much, I was only there for 4 months & I know it’s cheesey but we were like a family! I’ve been in Guilin since Thursday and am leaving this afternoon. I have a 20 hour trip on a hard seat to Nanjing 😦 From Thursday to Sunday I stayed in a little village in Longji, which is actually on the rice terraces. It was a 2 hour trip from Guilin station to the village, but then on Monday I went back to the city and spent a couple of days there to do some more sightseeing. Both hostels were great; the village I stayed in still used horses to get around, there were roosters, pigs, dogs, and cats roaming around too. It felt a bit like I’d stepped back in time, despite all the wifi signs and sweaty foreigners exchanging smiles/nods as they wear massive backpacks, hoping their hostel is somewhere nearby. On Saturday there was no power for a good chunk of the day, as the village couldn’t take all the rain and so had a powercut. The roads were filled with rain and rubble but the locals were so laid back about it despite the fact we were trapped in the village!

The main reason I chose Guilin was to see the rice terraces, or the Dragons Backbone, but I didn’t realise until I got there that the hostel was actually IN the village, ON the terraces… another classic case of me not reading things through properly. Maybe one day I’ll learn my lesson! I got up early Friday morning and climbed the rice terraces. The views were amazing and to know I was walking (and staying) amongst it all so high up was great as well. I made friends with a couple of Chinese guys who were also at the hostel called Jack and Ryan, and had dinner with them that night. I tried bamboo rice which seemed to be a speciality there. This is where they cook the rice inside a bamboo shoot, close it up and fire it until the bamboo is charcoal. Then you lift the top section off and scoop the rice out- it was tasty but really thick and filling. Anyway we were going through what different languages we knew, and I was (attempting) to teach them Cockney rhyming slang as they wanted to know if everyone in London speaks the same way as in Downton Abbey! That show is so popular out here. We were also talking about how bad/dangerous Chinese driving is, and how they just stop and stare at foreigners passing by.

So on Monday I left the village for the city and arrived at Wada hostel that afternoon.There was a botantical garden nearby so I went here first, but it was sooo hot I ended up going shopping in a nearby mall. That evening at the hostel was a dumpling making party, so obviously I got involved with this (dumplings are my weakness) and got chatting to a group of French who were staying there. On Tuesday I went to the Reed Flute Caves. I’d heard nothing but good things about it so thought it was worth the visit. If I’m honest I wasn’t overly impressed, I think it was just a bit of an anti-climax for me really! The caves were impressive and were all lit up with colourful lights but everyone was going ballistic taking photos, I mean it was pretty to see but nothing breathtaking. I thought it would last a bit longer too but I was out by 11.30am. There was a hill nearby so I climbed this (just because), then got the bus back into the city where I did some shopping. I then visited the Sun and Moon pagodas, which involved a lot of worshipping and praying. I wanted to stay out for longer, but it was so hot I was exhausted. So I headed back to the hostel to cool down, then later that night went for dinner and was then ushered to a dessert restaurant where I was treated like royalty haha. Anyway that evening there was really heavy rain and thunder and lightening, and a few of the French who I made friends with started playing guitar and singing along…. I’ll miss these guys!

I’ve really enjoyed Guilin and could easily stay here for another few days as there’s still loads of things I want to do and see, but ran out of time for. I have a train to Nanjing this afternoon, but all the beds had sold out, so for 20 hours I have to sit on a hard seat, so I may stop off somewhere to buy some sleeping pills for the journey!

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