AsiaChinaGuilin

Nanning to Guilin, China

Guilin Travel Blog

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Our view from the rooftop balcony

After another great night’s sleep, we awoke and checked out of our hostel. As the train station was not far from the hostel we decided to walk there. We arrived at the train station where we had to put our luggage through an xray machine (it didn’t appear that anyone was looking at the monitors, but I understand this is standard procedure at rail and bus stations).

We found our platform fairly quickly on the monitors (no Chinese required as the train number is displayed clearly on the ticket, and on the electronic displays at the station) and headed upstairs. Our train was already boarding as we reached the platform, which saved us waiting around. We headed to our carriage (again clearly indicated on the ticket) and found our seat. The luggage racks are very spacious and our rucksacks fitted well.

Our view from the rooftop balcony
I would recommend that if you can’t put your luggage within your sight, you should cable/chain lock it to the luggage rack, just in case, although no-one touched our luggage at all.

The train journey lasted around 5 hours but it went fairly fast. Cup noodles, snacks and drinking water is on sale from vendors that walk through the carriages and it seems fairly good value considering it’s on a train (3 Yuan for a 600ml bottle water, 3 Yuan for vacuum packed meat and fruit snacks - satay, jerky, dried apricots etc). Towards the end of the journey, people came into the carriages selling bits and pieces which took our mind off the time. We had the pleasure to learn about the incidence of counterfeited currency in China and were offered the chance to buy a UV light to check our notes.

Our view from the rooftop balcony
Then we could buy a (admittedly great looking) toy, which was similar to a spinning top, but appeared to spin effectively on anything, including at a 45 degree angle on the vendor’s finger, on a piece of string. He even put it inside the original box, turned the box so one of the sharp corners was resting on his finger, and it made the box spin too! Simple things!
We had someone selling invincible socks - he ran 3 wooden prongs down them but they were undamaged, and finally twin packs of toothbrushes. A brilliant idea and I don’t know why this idea hasn’t been adopted elsewhere (or maybe it has).

We arrived in Guilin and left the station. Fab found it strange that people were openly smoking, but then realised that having the fortune of the UK Government’s ban on smoking in public places, was not to be shared worldwide.

Our view from the rooftop balcony

We had arranged to be picked up from Guilin station as it appeared further on the map than the hostel indicated. We found our car quickly and were dropped at the hostel. It was more like a budget hotel, and was, admittedly a little disappointing compared to our last place. Fortunately though, we had booked and paid for a double room with a shared bathroom, but ended up with an ensuite. If we had paid for an en-suite, we would have paid four times the cost. We also had a huge balcony with a fantastic view over the Li River.

We took a short break then headed out to take a look around Guilin and grab some food. We wandered over to the area where the restaurants were and while we were waiting to cross the road, we heard “Hello!”. I turned around and said hello back to the man on the moped next to us.

Our view from the rooftop balcony
(You get used to this treatment in China!) He then started to chat with us, in excellent English, and told us about Guilin and the Dragon Boat festival that was on. He also recommended a few places to go to eat and pointed us in the direction of the ATM and the restaurant we were looking for. This is when I began to get suspicious. English is not spoken this fluently in China unless you are lucky (or unlucky). He seemed to be trying to get us to walk in a certain direction, and no matter how many thank you’s I gave him, it didn’t make him want to leave us.

Then I remembered that I had read about this scam, where a friendly person approaches you wanting to practise their English, before taking you to a restaurant, or tea house where you enjoy the tea and then get lumbered with a massive bill.

Our view from the rooftop balcony
Not long after remembering this, we reached a tea house where the man said “why don’t we try some tea?”. Fab and I made our excuses and continued around the block to try and lose him, and then return to the restaurant we had just passed. As we continued around the block, we noticed him again, chatting to an older Western couple. We felt bad that they may be conned too, but c’est la vie.

Anyway, we made it to our restaurant and were taken to our table and handed an English language menu (something we were led to believe was a rarity in China). I ordered sauteed beef with red peppers and Fab ordered garlic chicken. We also had some egg fried rice, and a couple of drinks. The rice came first and it was phenomenal - you wouldn’t think rice could be amazing, but it was.
My beef came next. It was sliced into tiny pieces in a rice sauce, with sliced chilli and celery. It was like fire it was so hot! When I ordered beef with red peppers I expected a bell pepper, not a chilli pepper. Despite it being spicy, it was delicious (well, apart from the celery which I detest). Fab’s dish came last and it was basically breaded garlic chicken with red bell peppers. It was really tasty but we were both getting really full so left a fair bit.

We headed back to our hostel with full bellies and had a good night’s sleep.

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Our view from the rooftop balcony
Our view from the rooftop balcony
Our view from the rooftop balcony
Our view from the rooftop balcony
Our view from the rooftop balcony
Our view from the rooftop balcony
Our view from the rooftop balcony
Our view from the rooftop balcony
Our view from the rooftop balcony
Our view from the rooftop balcony
Our view from the rooftop balcony
Our view from the rooftop balcony
Guilin Hostels review
Average all-rounder.
Located only a short walk from the train and bus stations, this hostel is in a great location. However, to call it a hostel is a bit of a stretch … read entire review
Guilin
photo by: davidfeng