China Day 8 – Guilin to Chengdu

After a long day, we started at 07:30 and was out of the hotel by 08:45. The tour guide had managed to sort out a temporary repair of suitcase handle in the morning so I was a little more hopeful of it arriving in Chengdu okay. Though in them breaking the handle it did mean I’d lost my two new luggage tags as well, this left me wondering if I’d see my suitcase in one piece or indeed at all when we reached Chengdu.

I’d estimate around a one hour drive to the boarding place for the Li river cruise. At the place you board the boat there are quite a few moored together and you are assigned to one of the boats, so there will be other groups present as well. All the boats then leave at the same time, so early on in the cruise it’s difficult to get photos without other boats in the view.

Li River

The cruise lasted four hours and ended in Yangshuo. The food onboard was dreadful though – it would have been warmer if they had left it out in the sun. The quality was certainly no better either, and it didn’t help how early they served it, it was barely 11:00 at the time. As the water level was high they were able to make good time, though personally I felt if they’d gone at their normal speed I’d have been happy with that; it may have meant a clearer view of the cormorant fishing.

The Li river is also known as the Lijang river and is in the region of China known as Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region (this type of region is an analog of what we’d call a county in the UK). It is flanked by limestone mountains and various small settlements. The limestone mountains, known as karst formations, formed under the sea through erosion thousands of years ago.

Cormorant Fishing

Once we arrived on shore in Yangshou we then had about 2 hours to look around the place. There wasn’t really much to see other than market stalls so we wasted the last 40 minutes by having a drink in the restaurant near the meeting point. The restaurant was one that served Western style food apparently, though the pictures we saw of it on the menus looked more like Chinese food.

From there we then took a ride on a golf buggy to the coach park; as the sun was warm and burning it was actually quite convenient to not walk. Between the group we had to have 3 of them due to there being 24 of us.

Rice Paddies

On the way back the coach driver was good enough to pull over on the opposite side of the road for a few minutes so we could take photographs of people working in the rice fields. There was also one further stop on the way back at the South China Sea Pearls workshop – this was another of those mandatory visits that tour guides must take their groups to, presumably at the requirement of the Government. I found this stop to be incredibly boring – there was very little learning (and as a side note their map was incredibly wrong with it missing the Pacific Ocean and having two North Atlantic oceans).

We then had spare time in Guilin until 19:00. We found the best thing to photograph there was the two pagodas, both of modern construction, in the park down the road from the Sheraton Hotel. It proved a good spot to try and take photographs of the sunset with the pagodas in the foreground.

Guilin: Pagoda Sunset

The evening meal, over 8 hours since we’d last eaten, was finally the last stop of the day. Sadly although the meal was of good quality there was very little of it, and even less of that contained even a minuscule amount of meat.

As it was going to be a late night we stopped by the Sheraton Hotel to buy a doughnut for 9 yuan. The drive to the airport lasted around an hour, and we were through security by 21:45. We actually boarded on time and was in the air by 22:40. Sadly it was still a 1hr30 flight ahead of us, so we wouldn’t get into Chengdu until 00:10. We then left the airport at 00:45. Yet another of the groups luggage was damaged, bringing the total up to 3. We got into the Sichuan Minshan Lhasa Grand hotel at 01:15.

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