First Impression 

Guilin marked the 25th city I traveled in China. Undoubtedly, this feat is awesome. However, the weather didn’t share in my accomplishment and gave me a hard time. (I went there at the wrong month…) It was raining and bloody cold. The temperature in Shenzhen the day prior was around 15-20C and when we arrived the Guilin, the temperature dropped to bellow 10C, plus strong wind and rain. Needless to say, the overall experience was affected as a result of these conditions. In retrospect, this trip involved more than 50% of the time used on transportation. On the day of traveling to Guilin, I woke up a bit before 6:00am to catch the 7:20am train, to sit for approximately close to 4 hours, only to get back on another bus for another 30 minutes, just to sit on another bus for 1 1/2 hours, AND to sit on another bus for another 30 mins since we missed our stop since we were napping. These are rough estimates, however, the overall time spent on commuting to Yangshuo was 7+ hours from Shenzhen.

Under these conditions, my interactions with my significant other also reflected the environment at the time. It seemed like things were going from bad to worst on the first day, furthermore, the climate + exhaustion + additional dialect shock affected my performance to navigate and take initiative in this situation, in short, my companion believed I was too passive. Admittedly, I agree with her. Talk about multi-dimensional stress, the external storm that exists from out and the internal storm that exists from within. Long story short, through perseverance and intentional and purposeful communication, we sorted out the conflicts and day 2 proved to be a much better. When we left Guilin, the rain finally stopped and the hard work going through this experience left hope like the sunlight that broke through the gloomy clouds. 

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Li River 

“Li River, one of China’s most famous scenic areas, was listed as one of the world’s top ten watery wonders by America National Geographic Magazine. It was even picked by CNN as one of “World’s 15 best rivers for travelers”.

Originating in Mao’er Mountain in Xing’an county northeast of Guilin, the Li River winds its way southeast for about 437 km, passing through Guilin, Yangshuo, Pingle, Zhaoping and finally meets Xi River in Wulin. It boasts the largest and most beautiful scenic area in China and attracts thousands of visitors each year.

The 83-km-long waterway from Guilin to Yangshuo is like a masterpiece. The landscape is decorated with rolling hills, steep cliffs, fantastic caves, leisurely boats and is lined with bamboo. A poem says: “The river is a green silk ribbon, and the hills are jade hair-pins”.”

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The Li River inspired the picture on the 20 RMB bill.

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漓江

“漓江发源于“华南第一峰”桂北越城岭猫儿山(兴安县内),流经桂林、阳朔,至平乐县恭城河口,全长170公里,是喀斯特地形发育最典型的地段,酷似一条青罗带,蜿蜒于万点奇蜂之间,人称“百里漓江、百里画廊”。新版人民币20元背面,就是漓江山水的一段”

West Street

"West Street is the oldest street in Yangshuo with a history of more than 1,400 years. Situated at the center of Yangshuo County, the street has become, since the 1980’s, a window of eastern and western culture and the biggest ‘foreign language center’ in China. It is the most prosperous district in Yangshuo, and, each year, approximately 100,000 foreigners come here on their travels or to attend advanced studies. Because, at times, foreigners outnumber Chinese, this street is also called ‘foreigners’ street’. Don’t be surprised if you hear English words spoken by elderly Chinese women, for this street is called ‘the global village’. Famous local dishes include 啤酒鱼 or Beer Fish"

西街

“在阳朔旅游,一定要去逛逛那闻名于世的西街,因为它充满着异国的情调。街上开店的老板都是淳朴的阳朔人,他们很热情,毫不欺生。为方便老外,它们的招牌是用外文写的。一百多家专买旅游品的摊位一字排列,出售着民族服饰、工艺品、瓷器、古玩等各种各样的商品。 中外游人川流不息,或购物,或观赏。街边餐馆的菜谱既有中式,也有西式。许多外国人围坐在此喝啤酒,品佳肴,兴致来时还要亲自下厨掌勺。这使西街成了名副其实的洋人街,它给阳朔小城增添了一道亮丽的风景。游人在这里可以尽情享受到小镇幽静的环境和独具情韵的休闲时光,体会浪漫的情调和异国的风情。 逛西街也是非常方便的,因为街的东头就是漓江边的游船码头,游人刚游完漓江,一下游船便直接进入西街了”

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Reed Flute Cave (Ludi Yan)

The ticket was quite expensive, retail price 120 RMB. If you book at least 3 hours prior on Ctrip.com, then you can get admissions ticket for 90 RMB. This of course, is subject to change. The best bet is to do prior research on bargains (which I did not do… hence, my girlfriend getting very upset with me)

“Limestone formations:The cave is filled with a large number of stalactites, stalagmites, and rock formations in weird and wonderful shapes. Illuminated by the colored lights, the cave looks like a dazzling underground palace. That’s why the cave is also known as ‘Nature’s Art Palace’. The most liked formations are Rose Dawn over Lion Peaks and Crystal Palace

Inside the cave there are more than 70 inscriptions written in ink, which can be dated back as far as 792 AD in the Tang Dynasty (618–907). These aged inscriptions tell us that it has been an attraction in Guilin since ancient times. Millions of tourists have visited Reed Flute Cave since its official opening as a tourist attraction in 1962.”

芦笛岩

“整个岩洞犹如一座用宝石、珊瑚、翡翠雕砌而成的宏伟、壮丽的地下宫殿。这些千姿百态的钟乳石是由于地下水的作用,溶解了岩石中的碳酸钙,再经过上百万年的沉淀堆积结晶而形成的,所有的景观都是大自然鬼斧神工的杰作,没有加一点人工修饰,因此,芦笛岩被人们誉为“大自然艺术之宫”。芦笛岩开放以来接待过四千多万游客,更有众多知名的国内外首脑及政要游览过芦笛岩,其中有邓小平、朱镕基、胡锦涛、吴邦国,美国前总统尼克松、卡特、联合国前秘书长德奎利亚尔等。在参观后他们被这人间奇景所倾倒,对景区高度赞誉,由此芦笛岩也被称为“国宾洞”

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日月双塔文化公园 Riyue Shuangta Cultural Park

In order to climb the tower, its around 45 RMB per person. We didn’t climb it, partly because we ran out of cash at the time. It would have been a very nice sight if the weather was more yielding, surrounding the two towers are lush, green sceneries. After all, it is a park.

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象鼻山 Elephant Trunk Hill (Xiangbishan)

Since our cash stash was low, we forgo the chance for admission. Instead, we found a spot that permitted us a free glimpse of the featured tourist monument.

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Final Thoughts

I might possibly come back to Guilin in Summer or Spring when the weather is more manageable. To end, when we were riding the speed train back to Shenzhen, I was deeply touched by my girlfriends tears of compassion for this high-rail hostess who had a confrontation with a passenger who physically assaulted her after the hostess confronted the passenger’s toddler for making a mess relieving himself along the aisle. Her coworkers did nothing to comfort her, yet, urged her to immediately apologize to the passenger. Expectantly, this type of response to her situation only made the hostess much more upset since her coworkers were not considerate towards her feelings of being wronged. After the coworkers left the hostess, my girlfriend comforted her and allowed her to express her grief and pain. My girlfriend championed the ideal that all individuals are equal and should be treated equally. This was truly a very inspiration moment and a huge encouragement for me. I am truly proud of her.

Aside from this, I am about head home in less than two weeks. Very nervous to return back to San Francisco. Back to reality that is. Moreover, extremely conflicted and down about having to end my journey in China soon. For the time being at least.


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***Contents are derived from the sources provided in the hyperlinks, thus, the credit goes to the original authors of those links.***

*These experiences were made possible by the Gilman Scholarship