The long last hour
The best of the trip in Li River is in the middle, so we may split it in three parts: the first one, when we “go to the party”, the second one, when we “enjoy the party”, and the third one, when we ”come from the party”. This means that the final part gets a little boring, turning the arrival in Yangshuo in a pleasant relief.
If you decide to use your time for more than to sleep, read or talk, it’s interesting to notice that the coast is not overbuilt: from the river we only see a few isolated houses, respecting the dominating nature.
- Arts and Culture
In summer the water is so shallow that, here and there it is hard to believe that the big boat will pass. I heard that sometimes it gets so shallow that is absolutely impossible to pass.
So, since that descent is the great reason to a trip to Guilin or Yangshuo, if you go in the end of summer you better check out in advance how are the things, or you risk to miss it.
“A good photo” is the dream of every tourist descending the Li River,but nature has its last word.
We left Guilin with rain, the guide saying that it was good for photo because it would open at any minute, probably without haze. Well, we had rain, haze, and no open sun.
Different looks, different ambiences, provided several different results. Banu was caught by the haze, and enhanced it in marvellous pictures you may see in Banu.
I tried to capture everything and made… something…
- Arts and Culture
Powerpoints in Hotels
I was unclear as to what adaptor to take from Australia, so I took two. The one with 2 round prongs and one with 2 flat prongs. All Hotels we stayed at took the one with 2 round prongs, but not the other one. Also, at our last Hotel in Shanghai, The Metropole, it also had a power point in the room that you could plug Australian plugs straight into, without an adaptor.
So, just do your research, cover all possibilities and you will be ok. Someone here on vt will tell you exactly which adaptor to take to any country in the world!
No "Facebook" in China!
I was quite devastated the first time I got on a pc in China to learn that they have banned Facebook!!! I dont really know why, but a quick warning - that if you are hoping to keep in contact with friends and family via Facebook while holidaying in China - IT AINT HAPPENING!!!
Scarcities in China
Even at Hotels, they were stingy in providing toilet paper, mostly only giving us half a roll per day! And most if not all toilets provided toilet paper, so you MUST bring your own, or even better are the small tissue packs, fitting easily into handbags or bumbags.
Also something we found difficult to source was Lipton Black Tea, it took us 4 days to finally track some down! None of the Hotels we stayed at provided it free in the room, so it took us days of searching in Beijing to finally find some to buy. We bought 3 packets and kept it in our room safe, along with our toilet paper, passports and cash!!!
The other thing we found impossible to find at the shops was the liquid hand wash you use, like Dettol or other brands. I did bring 2 small bottles from home, but ran out and couldnt find it anywhere, luckily I also brought some anti-bacterial wipes from home also. So, make sure you take a huge stash of handwash stuff.
Oh, and another thing we found hard to come by (and had to steal them from shops!) was sugar for our cups of tea. We usually went to Starbucks or King Coffee (the chinese equivalent of Starbucks but cheaper) and had a cup of tea or coffee and then stole about 10 sachets of sugar each! Also, something not given in our rooms was teaspoons to stir our cuppas, so had to steal these also, from Starbucks or KFC! So, if you like a cup of tea or coffee in your Hotel room, it might be wise to bring your own sugar, teabags, coffee and teaspoons. The milk we just bought on the street, guessing it was low fat milk and getting it right every time!
THIS ONE IS FOR US GALS - If you are going to have your periods while in China and you use tampons, you MUST bring enough with you as we never once saw them for sale, only pads.
Taxi drivers in Guilin are the worst!
We felt that Taxi drivers in Guilin were the worst in the whole of China, which didnt make a whole lot of sense, as the traffic in Guilin was probably the least chaotic.
Our worst taxi ride by far was on our way to Guilin airport bound for Shanghai. Tracy was sitting in the front seat, which is not such an intelligent thing to do when you see how crazily they drive! All of a sudden the taxi driver just stops by the side of the road. He gets out and walks over to a big pot of soup, gives it a few stirs then comes back to the car. He then mutters something in Chinese to us and off he goes again. This time he is gone for a good 5 minutes. I told Tracy to beep his horn and she did! Hey, they beep their horns enough, so I figured it was ok for us to beep it! He comes back with a bag of eggs, we presumed this was morning tea! And then, we are on the road again, bound hopefully for the airport.
You see, that is the big disadvantage we have in China when not speaking or reading their language. We get into a taxi, usually with our destination written in Chinese. The driver nods his head and we just presume that he is taking us to our intended destination, when really, he could be taking us absolutely anywhere! When we were in a taxi, bound for somewhere, and we finally saw a road sign in english saying our destination was ahead, we were always like "phew - at least he is going to the right place!"
Taxi drivers never wear seat belts, nor are there seat belts in the back seats. They will always answer their mobile phones at least 10 times during a short trip. They NEVER obey road rules, actually, come to think of it, Im not entirely sure there are any road rules in China! They usually dont speak a word of english and thee taxis are usually pretty filthy dirty. Oh, one taxi driver in Shanghai spoke some english, he just kept repeating "I am a communist - long live Chairman Mao!!!" I was not about to tell him Chairman Mao was dead and the body at his Mausoleum in Beijing is just a wax statue!!! No way, I was not gonna tell him that!
Hard Massages at Fubo Hotel
The Fubo Hotel had a Massage place in the basement, prices were reasonable, so we thought we would give it a go. Well .... the foot massage went for one hour and the cost was only 88rmb = about $15AUD. However, mine either ticked or it damn hurt! I woke up the next morning feeling rather sore and stiff and upon examination of my legs, I was bruised all over, the main bruises high on my inner thigh! As far as I was aware, a foot massage did NOT go way up to your inner thigh??? Tracy said her massage was good, not too hard, not too soft, just right - yeh lucky you Goldilocks! That was one thing we found all over China, was that the people giving massages all did it to their own strengths. We could have 2 people giving a massage at the same salon right next to each other and the massage we got would usually be completely different.
Food on the Li River Tour
We passed on lunch on the tour even though it looked pretty good. Remember the dishes are washed in cold water from the none too clean river! I don' t have a strong stomach so for me its just not worth it to take a chance when I travel . Sometimes a little hunger is better!
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Tourists are not new to the people of this area and I certainly don't blamae them for trying to make some money but.....
They really seem to come out of the woodwork and you certainly can't buy from them all. There's no such thing as " just looking" . If you look be prepared to buy!
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See my tip under restaurants- you would not want to herk your "little heart out" for even one hour would you?
Well check out the place to avoid!!
PS I notice someone else had a similar experience - it is possible it is the same place!!
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Unbelievably cheap taxi ride-RMB20(half a day)
We were offered a ride to ANY tourist spots within Guilin (half day trip) for only RMB20.
After the visit to the Reed Flute Cave, the sales pitch started. We were taken to gem/crystal store. Nothing fancy so we treated it as just another shopping stop.
Next a very clever scam: Temple donations.
We were driven to a temple with lots of beautiful carvings on the walls. Don't know the name, but we were greated by a lady who lead us inside. One minute into the temple, we were lead to an altar with a donation box (it was dark - only a few candles lighting up the place). We were told to bow and pray. I sensed something when I saw the donation box. I quickly told her that we have a different religion, and she apologized and then lead us out to the main door. We didn't managed to see all of the temple - I don't know how many more donation boxes are located inside.
A few questions which I will never know:
1. Why did she lead us out the moment we say we are from a different religion? I'm sure other foreigners (westerners) have been in there before.
2. What if we kept quite and didn't donate? Will we be led further or be shown the exit?
BTW, cameras are not allowed :)
Pretty young women in bars
Checkout the photo... You may well need to resize it!
Guilin is a dangerous place if you are a pretty young woman who likes to spend time in bars. The authorities don't tolerate this at all, and even have special places to dispose of these types of women!
Oh alright then, it's just another infamous Chinese typo, only this one makes for more amusing reading than most as it entirely changes the meaning from 'garbage can'...
Well it tickled me anyway.
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Confirm you flights!
I arrived early at the airport to fly to Xian, when I arrived, I tried comparing the Chinese letters on my ticket with those on the check-in board. They didn't match.
To cut a long story short, I eventually found out my flight had been cancelled, and I hadn't been told (I was travelling independently, not as part of a tour).
After about a days wait and still no flights to Xian, I had to abort and buy a new ticket to Beijing (you can't change tickets bought in the UK) - I then managed to get some flights in Beijing to Xian.
Anyway the moral is, conform your flights!!!!
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When I first arrived in China, I had read that Westerners were not allowed to rent cars. I thought this may be to stop them freely going wherever they liked. However I soon realised why!
You have to drive incredibly defensively in China, the drivers are crazy. For instance, if you are driving along a main road and a dirt track joins it, if a car is coming along the dirt track, it will assume the road is clear and just pull on to it. The driver on the main road seems to be under an obligation to hoot his horn until he is sure the other driver has seen him! There are many other storied such as this, including the metal bars in taxi cabs to separate the driver from the passengers. In an accident, never mind a pasenger air bag, your head will probably be shredded by the bars!
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