If you couldn’t tell by the title, I got pretty fed up with all the stares I got in China. It was less of the Japanese-style staring (the “ooooh, I wonder where she’s from; is she a teacher?”) and more of the “hey, look at the monkey, it talks” sort of staring. I legitimately had men staring at me (not handsome young men either, which I may not have minded as much 😉 ) for a good ten seconds, with no shame whatsoever, saying nothing, and continuing about their day MANY times each day. Qian couldn’t understand why it upset me, but I think he got it when I asked him if I should start charging admission. (Aaaaand, I may have dressed him in my sarong [that doubles as a dress] and made him walk through the common room of our hostel to do laundry so that he’d understand how it feels to be stared at like…well…like a man in a dress xp; he made me promise that if he did it, I wasn’t allowed to complain about getting stared at anymore….that didn’t last long xp)
Anyway, there was LOOOTS of staring directed at me in Guilin…and Fenghuang….and Changsha…and Dali….so..basically every city that’s not Shanghai. That’s why I started off this post with that, but anyway, enough with the nitpicking, let’s talk Guilin!
So, Guilin is one of the most famous tourist cities in China due to its amazing scenery. It’s located on the Li River and is surrounded by these tall spire-like mountains that are covered in trees. Honestly, this was my favorite place that we visited in China, despite the fact that my first though when we landed and were trying to negotiate our way to our hostel at like 10pm was “This is a SMALL city?” Once we found our hostel (down a long road that led through several tunnels and was largely overshadowed by HUGE trees), we spent most of our time in Guilin in the quieter parts of town, which I was a big fan of.
There was a large street market nearby as well as a shopping center/historic site (I couldn’t really figure out what it was supposed to be, but it was cool).
Anyway, so our first day here we spent just lounging around the hostel and planning what we’d do for the rest of our 5-day stay in Guilin. Qian brought me breakfast (he’s a morning person…and I was in the girl’s dorm, so he couldn’t wake me up early xp); it was some kind of really gooey steamed things made out of rice flour and corn flour. They were pretty good actually, but kinda weird. I’ll have to ask him what those are called someday. He told me the names of so many foods in Chinese that I have zero retention of.
But seriously, in our hostel, there was this suuuuper cute kitten…which I spent the better part of our first day there cuddling. It was really sleepy all the time (not exactly travel relevant, but my god was it cute).
Okay, back on track. xp Our second day in Guilin, we went hiking at a “national” (I think?) park nearby which led into the mountains. We had to take this really small bumpy bus to get there that seated maybe 7 people and cost about 15 cents (1 yuan) to ride. The locals were very confused by our presence, but luckily Qian was there to talk to the driver and find out that the last bus back to town was at 5pm (missing that would reeeeally suck).
So, we set off into the mountains at about 1ish…this park had no maps or anything official like that (despite having a security guard and a gate *shrugs*), so we were kinda wingin’ it at this point. It was a long, sweaty hike, with no end in sight, but we took to singing verses of songs we knew to pass the time, which was a lot of fun. In the end, we found a group of wild cows near the top of a ridge we climbed to, which was rather odd…
Aaaaaand then we went back with plenty of time to make the bus…and get eaten alive by mosquitos (I believe my record is 32 bites at one time…not a record I’m eager to break).
So, the following day, we decided to take a boat down the river 2-3 hours to reach the town of Yangshuo. In this case, the journey is more the objective than the destination since the views from the boat were fabulous.
Yangshuo was fine, but not all that exciting. We walked around and listened to some old people playing instruments and singing in the park, then we bought some interesting fruit and sat to eat it while we waited for the bus back to Guilin (I told Qian that I was basically going to buy and try any fruit I had never seen/eaten before…and we did xp). We (meaning Qian, our only Mandarin speaker xD) organized our bus back through this tour company near the pier, so when the time came for us to leave, I learned that the bus was actually not coming to where we were, we were to get in an extremely crowded van to get to the bus. I think there were at least 12? people sitting in the back with me where there were only about 8 seats…with our luggage. As per usual, I had no idea what was happening. (Qian’s English is pretty good, but he can’t always translate accurately and quickly enough for me to actually understand what’s going on, so I just started doing what he told me to and asking whys later). We took our 5-6 hour bus ride back to Guilin, making plans for our last days.
The next day, we decided to go to the caverns just north of Guilin (and I finally caught Qian’s cold, so we had to pack our stockpile of tissues). “We”(*cough* Qian *cough*) got lost a couple of times trying to find our bus, but it all worked out. The caverns themselves were extremely beautiful and I was super happy to get out of the heat (the temps in Guilin this while time were like 85-90 degrees, even at night with nasty humidity; I just grew accustomed to always being at least mildly sweaty). I got a few pretty great pictures, too:
On our way out, we bought some sort of Chinese dessert? Snack? Honestly, I have no idea. It was some kind of gelatin that they cut and poured a Chinese brand of soda over, which we ate with a spoon. It was strange, but not bad. While we were eating, a woman approached us and asked if we wanted to go pole rafting (it was one of the touristy activities you could do there) and neither of us had ever done it, so we said yes. It was remarkably hard to steer and neither of us got any good at it. It took all our concentration to avoid collisions….and then the rain came. We had to pole our way to shore as quickly as possible (which is not fast; for us anyway xD) as the heavens opened up on us.
(Attractive as always, I know 😉 )
After that, we spent our last day exploring the town and booking our bus tickets to Fenghuang. (The next post; gotta build suspense you know xp)
Take care, guys! ❤