In order to get to Guilin, from Chengdu, we had to take a train. Everybody does that at some point but this was a train journey with a difference.
To begin with, we had to go to Chengdu Dong station – Dong means East, that part was easy enough, we took a metro from the hostel that we were staying in and got off at the required stop which just happened to be in a massive big building.
It looked like a modern shopping centre instead of a metro station so after walking around in circles for a while, we found our way out of the metro station and into the train station – which looked like a big airport building.
The train journey took 25 hours – even with their constant delays and cancellation, Scotrail would struggle to make a journey last that long.
Regardless of that, we got off at Guilin and followed the directions that the Wada hostel had given to us and checked in.
Guilin station had all the usual stuff that stations out here seem to have – lots of people selling fruit and other various food from carts that they tow with their push bikes.
There was also the usual people showing photos of places to stay and the shouts of “hello” and “taxi” I think these people were trying to get us to use their taxi but they may have just been saying hello to a taxi. We had been on a train for 25 hours and were tired so anything was possible at that point.
Needless to say, we were pretty tired after being on a train for that length of time so we didn’t do much on the first night.
On the first full day, we decided to go for a “wee walk” to see what the place was like. 6 hours later, we were still wandering, although, it was no longer wee. It turned into a monumental trek.
One of the first main sites that we say was the Sun and Moon pagodas, they are pagodas and named after the sun and moon – at the time of writing, we haven’t yet been to see them at night time but we’ve read that they are well lit up at night and have some singers and dancers and entertainment round about the area so I think we’ll do that tomorrow night.
Like most cities, Guilin has a river running through it and it’s the River Li so we spend a good few hours walking along the riverside and even took some time out to use some of the exercise equipment that was at the roadsides and in the parks on our way.
It wasn’t very much time though, it was really just a minute or two so that we could get pictures taken on them.
At one of the parts where we had to cross the road, a woman on a moped spoke to us – it turned out she was a tour guide so we had a wee chat, took her card and promptly forgot most of the information that she gave us about the main tourist attractions in the area.
For clarity, people on mopeds cross the roads at the same places that pedestrians cross the roads in Guilin – we haven’t made up a new type of extreme sport.
It seems to work for them but it makes crossing the road a bit of a confusing time for us tourists.
Basically, we walked for several miles and ended up going through what you’d descibe as a housing scheme with a market in the middle of it.
Suddenly, we were hit by an almight smell – the sort of smell that make your eyes water and probably take several months off of your life. It turned out that there was a public toilet or perhaps an open cesspit behind the market.
In the same market, not far from the ‘reek’ there were some chickens in cages and some ducks next to them in other cages. I’m normally one for animal rights but I’m sure if they animals had any sense they’d have gone somewhere else if they weren’t forced to stay where they were so I can see why these ones were caged.
Live animals appears to be a feature of Chinese markets so we made a hasty retreat from the smell and spent the next 30 minutes or so walking through this town – it wasn’t on our maps so we’ve no ideas what it was called.
Towards the end of the town, we found a small cafe and had a soup with stuff in it – we don’t really know what the stuff was but the soup was approx 45p and there was enough for two people to share it.
It was nice and gave us energy to continue with our wee wander.
A while later, it may have been an hour or so, we ended up on the opposite side of the river and soon noticed that several of the locals were swimming in it as well as fishing in it.
They were not alone though as we had just passed a guy with a small herd of water buffallo and they were also being led into the river.
The fishermen were in tiny bamboo rafts, like the ones that you’d expect to see on a wildlife show. Not far from them, there were also some larger rafts that were full of tourists so we walked down to the riverside and went out on one of them.
The inital price was going to be about £20 for the boat trip and we ended up paying £6.50 and got to see the river from on the river.
From there, it was back to the hostel via a restaurant for dinner. If the first impressions count, then I think we’re going to enjoy Guilin. We had only booked three nights but have already extended that to 5 nights.