As promised, let’s continue! First, how did the rest of our Tuesday night of travel pan out? Well, the train stopped around 4:00 am or so in LiuZhou. If you’re taking the overnight train in China, don’t worry about waking up for your stop. They take your ticket from you in the beginning, and make sure everyone who needs it gets it back at their stop. We disembark, and here I am keeping my eyes out for a sign directing us to the bus portion of this station (Mr. Proprietor said getting a bus would be simple). I’m not seeing anything, but a man sees us two obvious foreigners wandering around. Our dialogue in Chinese goes something like this:
Us: Um, yeah?
Him: Follow me.
Him: Wait here.
Us: ok….. (we were still in a very public place, no worries)
Him: *gesturing from across the street* Here, this bus! *pointing at a large tour bus*
Us: Guilin, right?
Us: 60 kuai, right? (the amount Mr. Proprietor said it should be)
Us: Well okay.
He had the look of an established driver-clean tucked in shirt, belt, nice shoes, etc-so we decided to trust him. Shortly after we boarded, the bus filled up with a tour. Guide on a mic and all. We were most definitely not a part of their group. But we got to Guilin, and no one asked any questions so I guess it was legit!
- We took a cab to the train station from wherever the heck that bus dropped its tour off at, and used the directions I’d gotten online to walk to Wada Hostel.
- Wada is a part of the Hosteling International global network of Youth Hostel Associations. Check this out for yourself if you’d like, but if the word ‘hostel’ makes you nervous I’ve had nothing but good experiences in these. I’ve only stayed in 3 so far, but they’ve all been spectacular.
- The menu here is GREAT. We had breakfast while waiting for our room, and it was difficult choosing what to eat. For breakfast, and every meal we ate there.
- We CRASHED as soon as we got settled. Hard sleep until mid-afternoon. It was glorious.
- Meandered around the Guilin Botanical Gardens for a while before dinner. They’re conveniently across the way from Wada, along with a large shopping mall type thing if you’re into that. There was also lots of good-smelling Chinese food in the area. But we were entranced by the menu at Wada.
- We took this day as a day of rest. Never feel you must go full-steam-ahead at all times. The rest of our time would not have been fun if we didn’t have enough energy to appreciate it.
Thursday-On the river to Xingping!
- Our original plan was to hike about 5 hours from Yangdi to Xingping (famous for being near the scene on the 20 kuai note) along the Li River. After toting our full bags around for a bit Tuesday night, we had decided to take advantage of the raft ride Wada offered instead.
- SO GLAD we did, because 1) It was raining a bit and the raft was covered, 2) No worries about getting lost or the high river covering the trail in the rainy season, and 3) It was a BEAUTIFUL ride.
- I HIGHLY recommend taking a raft vs a large tour boat. I personally really enjoy being closer to the water.
- I don’t how to describe it, but the smell on the river was really fresh. I loved it. Check out the gallery related to this post for more pictures!
- At Xingping we stayed at another Hosteling International hostel, called This Old Place. A great place to stay-friendly staff, convenient location, lots of suggestions for hikes & entertainment, and brick oven pizza!
- Climbed Mount Laozhai right next to the hostel. Described as “30-45 minutes to the top”. No problem, after our monstrous excursion at Zhangjiajie, right? Well, I mean we made it, but it was no easy task. The high humidity farther south definitely did a number on our poor lungs.
- We also took a little walk through Xingping and out into the countryside a bit. We wanted a more rural environment, and we found it.
Friday-Walking, Hiking, Climbing
- There are several hikes outlined in a suggestions book at This Old Place, and we decided to take advantage of them. First, we took the ferry across the river and set out for a nunnery with a cave nearby, and Shawan Village beyond that.
- We got confused about the directions and where we were at, so we ended up turning back before we reached our destination. Turns out we were probably ¾ of the way there. Oh well, still a good hike.
- Did you know your hands swell when you get dehydrated? This is a phenomenon that’s been happening my whole life that I didn’t notice until Adrienne pointed it out to me. Whaaaaat??
- A guy who works at the hostel, Ronnie, offered to go with us to a fishing village. So after some food that’s exactly what we did!
- Water + humidity + oncoming summer = mosquitos. Luckily This Old Place had some bug spray we could use.
- If you’d like to see more pictures from our hikes, check out the Li River gallery!
- This particular night I paused to enjoy the night sounds of a rural town. Bugs chirring, quiet chatter, the river faintly in the background. It’s something I didn’t realize I was missing until I could experience it again.
- Bought some postcards before heading out. Cheap & easily transported without taking any extra room! I’m beginning to acquire quite the collection
- 3 hour bus ride to Guilin. We just walked to the bus station in Xingping, saw a bus with “Guilin” written on a sign in its window, and hopped on.
- Found our way back to Wada to wait for our flight later in the evening. But not before I was forced by nature to use the worst bathroom I have yet to experience in China at the long-distance bus station. Ah well, what trip is complete without a nasty bathroom story.
- Wada called a taxi for us, and we made our flight and connections and back to Qingdao with no logistical issues at all.
- Unfortunately though, I got food poisoning that decided to hit hard right as we were boarding the plane in Guilin. WORST flight experience of my life. Those poor flight attendants didn’t quite know what to do with the dying foreigner.
- One final, miscellaneous tip that I believe I’ve said multiple times elsewhere in my blog: TALK TO STRANGERS. We received lots of assistance from helpful locals, met a father and daughter originally from New Zealand, an environmental lawyer from Boston teaching in Beijing, and an actor from New York traveling around Asia for 6 months. Not to mention Mr. Proprietor, the girls at Wada, and Ronnie at This Old Place. People are interesting, and worth meeting.
Overall, it was a blissfully smooth trip. I’m unbelievably thankful for every experience we had on it (except maybe the food poisoning). And of course for Adrienne. We are remarkably compatible travel companions :) Which can make all the difference in the world on whether or not one's travels are enjoyable. If you’d like to ask me about anything, please contact me! I have an itemized budget of the entire excursion if you’re interested in planning your own adventure, or we can always just chat. That’s cool too.
Thank you to everyone who follows me, supports me, prays for me, and/or ever thinks positively in my direction!