Oktober 04, 2013

Our journey to the state of Guangxi

Our trip started at 5 in the morning last week on Wednesday. We took a taxi to the airport and got on the plane for about 2,5 h to get to Guilin. At our reserved hostel we met Frauke and Nora, two German friends from Paderborn, who are participating in the same program and spend their semester in Beijing. We were very excited to see each other again after the first couple of weeks in China and exchanged experiences for a while before we left the hostel. For the first day we had planned to explore Guilin, but for Susanne and me it ended up being a desperate search for something warm to wear. So far it had been around 30 degrees in Shanghai and we didn’t expect it to be any colder in the South. But unfortunately it was very windy that day and since we had planned to climb the rice terraces the next day, we decided to buy some warm sweaters. This took much longer than we thought as the Chinese fashion is a lot different from what we like to shop for which made it very difficult to make up our minds. At least I own a pullover now that will always remind me of the Chinese style :) Because of our shopping tour we didn't get to see a lot of Guilin as we stayed on the main shopping street all day. But we were still happy in the evening when we sat in the hostel with our warm, comfortable sweaters and enjoyed some very delicious pancakes with the rest of our group.
Our travel crew (Nora, Susu, Frauke, me)

The next day started with a three hour bus ride to the village of Longsheng. Once we arrived, there were already some local women waiting to carry up our luggage. At that point we didn’t know how many stairs we would have to overcome again and we also didn’t know that we would have to walk uphill for one hour to get to our hostel… we actually didn’t bring that much luggage, but a backpack instead of a suitcase would have been very helpful (2nd lesson we have learned on this trip :)).
After we had tried to stay strong for the first part of the distance and after continuously trying to tell the local  women that we would be able to carry our own stuff, we were determined to make it all the way to the top. But those women were clever. They followed us the whole time in the hope that we would give up at some point… and I must admit I did think about it several times ;) When we finally reached the top, the great view recompensed all the effort. It all would have been perfect if it had been a bit warmer, but it still was a great and stunning experience to finally see how people grow rice there and how they live in the middle of the terraces. We used the rest of the day to explore the area and to take some pictures of that beautiful countryside. 

We spend the night in a hostel in Dazhai Village in the middle of the rice terraces. The accomodation looked like a cozy cabin and a nice place to stay at until we saw the facilities and discovered some cardboard on the walls that was used in some corners of our room which would explain why it was terribly cold in that place. We tried to take it with humor, ordered something warm to drink before going to bed, and just slept with all of our clothes on. It was very foggy when we got up the next morning so that we weren't able to see more of the beautiful countryside as we were hoping for. After breakfast we headed back down with all of our luggage again but this time we decided to ask the local women for help... they were actually already standing infront of our hostel while we had breakfast and waited for their next opportunity to earn some money. After they had annoyed us all the way up the day before we were now thankful to meet them again.
Back in Longsheng at the bottom of the rice terraces we took the bus to Guilin again, where a Chinese man was already waiting to drive us to our next highlight of this trip. About one hour south of Guilin we arrived at the water's edge of Li Jiang River. The river also runs through Guilin, yet we drove to a specific point of the river to take a bamboo boat through the beautiful karst landscape. For 1,5 hours we just sat back, enjoyed the wonderful weather and the great surrounding. At the end of this relaxing ride we got to see that part of the landscape that is also printed on the 20 RMB banknote. Another bus ride that day took us to the city of Yangshuo, where were stayed for the next three days. 

The first day in Yangshuo started with a very nice Western brunch that we couldn't get enough off after having eaten soft rolls, cereals or Chinese noodles for breakfast the weeks before. With all that energy we were ready to go on a first cycling tour through the karst landscape. Our first destination was the so-called dragon bridge which we reached after riding our bikes along the river and through small villages for about two hours. 

When we arrived at the Dragon Bridge we took a break for about an hour, sat down in a small café next to the river, and had something cold to drink. I actually had the best Mango Sorbet ever :) at this point it really felt like being on vacation and not like taking a few days off from our semester abroad in Shanghai. The Dragon Bridge itself wasn't that special, but once again we had a wonderful view on the river and the karst landscape in the background.
Following a suggestion of our Lonely Planet, we decided to go back on the other side of the river which turned out to be a lot more complicated but at the same time adventurous than we were expecting. The street we drove on was more of a gravel walk for which our bikes were not very convenient and then the curve that was supposed to show up after about 20 minutes just didn't appear or we missed it in the end. After around 40 minutes we figured that we were on the wrong track and tried to asked for directions. Although there were some Chinese farmers who were willing to help us we were challeged by the language barrier again. An even bigger issue was that we were driving on the wrong side of the Karst hills and didn't
find a way to get through. When we were almost ready to stop some vehicles to ask them for a ride, we found a small and very bumpy road to the other side with the help of a Chinese lady pointing us in the right direction. Against all expectations we made it back to Yangshuo before it got dark and at the perfect time to go out for dinner. That night we went to my favorite food experience in China so far as we chose a vegetarian restaurant where I could finally find a great variety of choices. It was so yummy that we actually forgot to take pictures ;)

As if our first day of cycling had not been exciting  enough, we decided to go on a second trip the next day.
Our backside was still hurting so we could hardly sit on our bikes but yet it was worth overcoming this little handicap. On the one hand because Frauke had not been able to join us the day before due to a migraine and it was more fun with the whole group and on the other hand there were still some must-see places left that we wanted to visit duirng the cycling tour. Our first stop was the Big Banyan Tree. It really wasn't worth paying entrance for it as I had seen many trees like this in botanical gardens in Australia. Susu and I decided to make the best out of this situation and payed for some Chinese Customes to take fun pictures in them. We don't really know if they had some kind of traditional meaning, but it was lots of fun especially because we were surrounded by many Chinese tourists who were taking pictures of us like crazy and also kept asking for pictures together with us. We enjoyed that feeling of fame for 20 minutes but then it was also nice to take those customes off and just walk around as a normal tourist.
Our next destination was the moon hill. Just like in most other nice places we have been to in China there were stairs (800) that we had to overcome before enjoying a view through that great moon hill window. After this hike we were ready for some lunch and decided to ride our bikes to the next little town which was only about ten minutes away. At first it didn't seem like we would be able to find a restaurant, but then we saw a young man eating some rice with vegetables that looked very good. We tried to ask him where we could get something similar and he pointed to a little place that we would never have entered without his hint. The menu was all in Chinese letters and there were no pictures that we could order from. In the end we followed the waitress in the kitchen and just pointed at all the ingredients for the meal that we got served. We didn't know what to expect but we were lucky. The food was very delicious and I'm sure this was a special experience for the Chinese working in that restaurant as well. The city didn't look like there are ever any tourists that get lost in this place. 

We used the morning of our third day in Yangshuo to go souvenir shopping in all those little stores that may be found in the city center next to lots of bars and nice litlle restaurants with food from lots of different countries. In the evenings there are hundreds of tourists, lights everywhere and you can definitely feel a special holiday air! I really enjoyed our stay in Yangshuo! It is a very touristic town but yet the perfect place for a short and memorable vacation surrounded by one of the most stunning natural spectacles China has to offer. Just as all good things this trip came to an end after six great days in the state of Guangxi and Susanne and I flew back to Shanghai in the evening.

1 Kommentar:

  1. Hallo Mira,
    Deine uralte Oma schreibt dir :-). Schade, dass du nicht zu meinem Geburtstag
    kommen kannst. Wir holen das aber später nach. Ich habe mit Othmane an diesen
    Dingern rumgefummelt (iPad) und deine tollen Erlebnisse konstatiert. Fremdartig
    alles neu, du musst es genießen.
    Ganz liebe Grüße,
    deine Oma