Sunday, December 28, 2014

Getting Away to Guilin

Someone I know and love dearly turned 40 this October, so we decided to celebrate by taking a weekend getaway to Guilin.

Happy Birthday Chris!  We're heading to Guilin!
Guilin is a great destination for nature lovers.  While there, we spent 48 hours floating and hiking through picturesque landscapes.   

After a two-hour flight from Shanghai, we got a good night’s rest at the Shangri-La and started our day with a cruise down the Li River.

We were so excited to get Shangri-la-ed in Guilin! 
We started our day with a cruise down the Li River. 
Men on bamboo rafts sold tourists fruit.  
We enjoyed the scenery!  Many times I felt like we were floating through a silk painting.
Small boat villages lined the banks of the Li river.

Many of the mountains we saw have many stories behind them.  This is the mountain of the nine horses.  Can you spot all nine horses? 
The Li River is featured on the back of the 20RMB note.
At the end of our four hour boat ride, we got tourist trapped on West Street in downtown Yangshuo.
Shop owners sold all sorts of goodies to the tourists. 

They sold everything from coconut heads,

to stone etchings of the Rock. 
After hanging out on West Street, we took another tour to a small town outside Yangshuo.  On this tour, we took a bamboo raft ride down a small stream. 
During this tour, a local fisherman demonstrated how to use cormorants to catch fish.    
The stream is a popular location for wedding pictures.  During our tour, we saw about a dozen brides.
At the end of the tour, we got to feed a pregnant water buffalo some corn. 
After a quick dinner at McDonalds, we saw the Impression: Sanjie Liu show.   
Impressions is directed by the art director for the 2008 Beijing Opening ceremonies.  I was impressed that over 600 locals could put on this show using rafts on a lake as a stage.  I was also surprised that my seat mates talked during the entire performance.  I would have enjoyed the performance more if I knew the legend before I saw the show. 
By the end of the day, we were exhausted.  I ordered a bowl of mushroom soup to warm up from the cold and got a good night’s sleep.

The next day, we set out to explore Guilin city.  We had a great time visiting Jingjiang Prince’s City and Zhenyang Pedestrian Street.

Jingjiang Prince's city was the palace of the great nephew of the first Ming Dynasty emperor.  Now it houses part of Guanxi Normal University.  We purchased tour tickets at the gate, and were shown around by an English speaking tour guide. 
We had a nice time exploring the palace buildings.  We especially enjoyed studying a study cave and peace grotto.  No photography was allowed inside. 
At the end of the tour, Chris climbed Solitary Beauty Peak to see a panoramic view of Guilin.
After Jingjiang Prince's City, we enjoyed a lunch of meat and rice noodles on Zhenyang Pedestrian Street.  Rice noodles are a Guilin specialty.  

I booked our hotel, flight and tour on Ctrip.  Unfortunately, they are no longer offering tours on their international website.  Nonetheless, It’s quite easy to book cruises and tours at the Guilin hotels and hostels.  If I were to revisit Guilin, I would extend the trip to three days so our Saturday activities could be extended over two days instead of one.  Happy exploring!