Our real step into China was the southern city of Guilin in the Guangxi Province. As the plane landed on to Chinese soil, all we could see out of the tiny plane window was rain. Lots and lots of rain. A bit of a dampener on our Chinese adventure!
We got a taxi to our accommodation in Guilin which took about 45 minutes and the entire time Jez and I were looking out of the window in awe of the amazing scenery. Impressive stone mountains, covered by deep green foliage, jutting out of the ground made this place seem as if it were the setting of a fairytale. Of course, while in the taxi we made a conscious effort to ignore the traffic chaos lest we fear for our lives.
Road rules in China appear to be mere suggestions of order. Horns are going off everywhere as cars, scooters, bikes, trucks and wagons (that look as if a lawnmower engine has been attached to the front) fight to get from point A to B. Near misses are frequent. Despite this, Jez and I have not seen one incident of road rage. There is no anger or frustration, they just go with the flow…which means freely cutting people off, driving on the wrong side of the road, driving on footpaths and reversing into oncoming traffic. No sweat.
Not only was this city our first experience of China, it was also our first experience of hostels. We stayed at Wada Hostel and thought that the social area and common room had a great vibe about it. The rooms were functional, if a little too practical. Our bed? A wooden board on a bricked up base. I can really see the appeal of hostels to backpackers and people on the road, a reasonably priced place to rest for a few nights.
On our second day in Guilin we ventured out of town to Yaoshan Mountain. It had beautiful views of the Karst mountains as well as towards the city. And if that didn’t excite you, perhaps the ski lift to the summit and the toboggan ride down might? Well we thought it was the best way to experience such a tranquil and peaceful place! However, as per usual, I was far too slow on the toboggan for Jez’s liking.
The pandemonium of the city against the backdrop of the mystical mountains made Guilin a fantastic place to visit in China.
Next… our visit to Yangshuo!