Friday, 31 July 2009

Magnificent Guilin

I went with my colleague and friend Stephen to South China for 10 days. We took the 22 hour train on 'hard seat!', the worst class on train but I never experienced yet sleeping on a hard seat.
Train was leaving at 17.01 and arriving at Guilin at 14.25 the next day. Ticket was so cheap 194 yuan (20€) for 1 631 km!
Once in Guilin, there is not much to do, just a few spots to visit, wandering in the city is quite pleasant (a few free parks with pagodas) but people actually want to go to YANGSHUO (about 1 hour South-East from Guilin). There are buses every 10 minutes from Guilin train station, even if you don't speak Chinese, there are touts (rabatteurs) everywhere and same price everywhere (15 yuan). Actually this is the express bus (with air con), there are also 'normal' buses going to Yangshuo from the Bus Station, but not worthy (too many stops and not sure about air con).

Here is a good map of Yangshuo surrounding

Here it is the famous landscape from Guilin: the Li river cruise. That was as I expected, MAGNIFICENT, quiet, clean.
We took a bus to Yangdi from Yangshuo (8 yuan/1,5 hour) then found a boat (there are many waiting for customers) that we shared with 3 Cantonese students. We paid 30 yuan each for a 2 hour cruise, what a bargain when you imagine most people book the tour organised by their hotel for 350-400 yuan/person!! And frankly, this is much better to do the cruise on a small boat (max 5 people) than on the big touristic & expensive boat. At the end of the cruise, there was the scenery of the Chinese 20 yuan banknote.
For going back to Xingping, there were buses (5,5 yuan, 45 min).
Yangshuo city is welcoming. It became very touristic (many clothes and souvenirs shops as well as may pizzerias!) though it is still a charming city.

Then, we went to Longsheng, 2 hours drive from Guilin (17 yuan) on local bus that stopped nearly everywhere to try to have more people getting in. Once in Longsheng, we regretted not staying on a village like some locals offered us, Longsheng is so boring! Anyway, we've been to the LONGJI TERRACE RICEFIELDS and it was amazing. It took again a couple of hours driving on a minibus (minibuses leave every 1.30 hour from Longsheng, 8 yuan). As we arrive on the late afternoon, we were the only foreigners. Locals were offering us to stay the night at their home in one of the many villages settled in the middle of the ricefields. Too bad we already booked a hotel in Longsheng.

A map of Longji Terraces Ricefields on

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