View Larger Map
Mean: 8°c Max: 9°c Min: 6°c

Guilin - A fleeting visit

Guilin, China
Saturday, March 2, 2013

Before we set off on this incredible journey a 26 hour train journey would have sounded pretty hard core but not anymore! It's really surprising just how quickly we have adapted to these longer journeys and time just flew by. All we needed was a good book on the kindle... for Sonya at least, and a couple of programmes to watch on one of the gadgets we have and then before we knew it, it was time to get off.

So we arrived in Guilin and the first thing we noticed was the lack of horns being honked! Nearly every city in China so far has had this annoying habit so it's quite nice to think that maybe the further south you go the less stressed out the drivers are.

Day 1 - Food!

Opposite the hostel is a great shopping centre and as we have already found these are normally great places to eat decent grub at fantastic prices. This was no different with a massive food court with oodles of choices. The one thing we have never seen before was all the outlets had precooked dishes which you chose and then they bring them to your table with a camping stove to heat it through. Another thing that wouldn't be allowed in the UK. All went well for the first 5 or so minutes until ours decided to blow itself out and then ignite the end of the gas canister with a massive flame. Sonya was in the hot seat and got away with minor injuries with just her left eye lashes singed. She was not best pleased. But never to be put off by a big portion of food we went back every night for more of the same!

Day 2 - Seven Star Park

On our first full day here in Guilin we jumped on the number 10 bus that conveniently went passed our hostel and headed for the Seven Star Park. When we arrived the first thing we noticed was the little old men and women pumping music out of their ghetto blasters and bending their bodies to Thai Chi, like they were still in their twenties when in fact, most of them were in there sixties and seventies with the odd one being at least ninety! Totally inspiring :-)

We visited Seven Star Cave which is within the park and is apparently one of China's original tourist attractions, dating back as far as the Sui Dynasty. On arrival we were asked to wait a few minutes for the tour guide to arrive but knowing she would be speaking only in Chinese this left us both wondering why we couldn't have done it all by ourselves but nevertheless it was nice to go round in a group to gauge others impressions of the caves.

On the whole, the caves were very impressive and beautifully lit. But let's not forget that we are in China and it wouldn't be the same without a bit of intervention from the powers that be. We saw two waterfalls that have supposedly been flowing since the Sui Dynasty but when the tour group walked away, these amazing waterfalls miraculously stopped!

There was also the customary shopping point right in the middle of the caves selling natural stones, jewellery and of course a teapot set. Who wants to buy a teapot in the middle of a cave? It's at this point that we noticed someone talking on their mobile phone so we checked our's and we had an incredible five bar reception. Hummm this cave had all the mod cons.

We decided to visit Seven Sister Cave instead of Reed Flute Cave mainly as we were visiting Seven Sister Park already. On reflection it wasn't worth the entrance fee and we wish we had made the bus trip to Reed Flute Cave which we understand is amazing, although we can't guarantee its authenticity.

After the caves we enjoyed a lovely stroll through the rest of the park and saw a massive rock that looked a lot like a camel. We didn't want to look too closely in case we spotted something that might have made us think it was man made too as it is nice to think that some tourist sights are real.

In the evening we visited the Sun and Moon twin Pagodas. They were beautifully illuminated and looked almost to be floating along Shan Lake. The first pagoda we climbed was the octagonal seven story Moon Pagoda. Many steps later we arrived at the top to some truly great views. We then walked along the underground tunnel to the Sun Pagoda, the world's tallest copper pagoda and the best bit in Sonya's opinion one of the few pagoda's in the world to have a lift. This also had good views back to the Moon Pagoda but had an errie prayer room at the very top that wasn't helped by the strong winds making everything creak and howl. Worth a visit at night as there weren't any crowds in fact we didn't see anybody else apart from the staff selling the customary tourist knickknacks.

Although we only had a fleeting visit to Guilin on route to the real countryside we have had a great time in Guilin. Next stop Yangshou and 'real' China.

Hostel Review

We stayed at Wada hostel and opted for a double private with en-suite. The hostel is well located just a 10 minute walk or 3 stops on the number 10 bus from the train station. It is also just across the road from a large shopping centre, the botanical gardens and a cinema. The staff were very helpful and although we were partly expecting it as we are in a very touristy area they spoke the best English we have come across yet in China. The hostel has a free DVD room and free pool table along with free Wi-Fi in the common areas. They have also found a way to get round the Chinese firewall, the first time we have seen this in China! The rooms are basic but what you would expect from a hostel and had a good shower and wet room. It does have its negatives but they are small and the blatant lie about 'The best dumplings in China' makes us laugh. It is out of season so the hostel was running lots of promotions but you would be hard pushed to find somewhere else that can offer a double private with en-suite and free breakfast for just 99CNY, yes around £10 per night. Value for money helps the rating.

6.5/10 Revised 2013.05.18

© 2014-2021 All rights reserved.
All images and logo's are licenced. Please contact us before copying any content or linking to our blog - Thanks! :-)