Published: February 25th 2009February 25th 2009
I think those are oranges
So Tuesday is our last day in Guongzhuo and we decide to do some of the touristy things we missed out on. The winter is the dry season for tourists because most of the activites are rock climibing, hot air balooning, hiking, etc. After freezing our behinds off on the Li river we decided to do some caves that our friends had seen the day before. Apparently there are a lot of "fake" water caves and our hostel owner made sure to lead us to the right one (not sure there would be a difference) but we eat breakfast at the hostel (their version of American breakfast is a fried egg on toasts, which all in all wasnt that bad) and we hop in a taxi that takes us just outside the city to the loading place for the real water cave. (the sign really said real water cave, which in retrospect is pretty hysterical and I wish I'd taken a pic of it) Once again, the "bus" rolls up and it looks more like something you would give Chris to play with in the driveway than an actual bus, but we hop on and get tossed around this thing for
The "Real" Water Cave
Doesn't that entrance just look awesome?? so much fun to slide under, little did I know we had to carry on like that for another 30 seconds...
about 20 minutes heading up to the cave.
We saw more Chinese landscape, and at one point we passed this landfill with just mounds and mounds of trash bigger than anything I'd ever seen. Then more of the usual chickens running around, oxen, piles of poo in the dirt roads.... there were a few moments when I thought our little "bus" wasn't even going to make it over little hills but our bus driver seemed to enjoy us cheering her on when we finally made it (more out of relief than anything). Finally we roll up to where the supposed cave is and we walk for a minute or so and find the entrance to the caves, which is just a little pond with boats in it, so we hop into a boat and put our required hard hats on and head into the cave. Dad definitely would not have enjoyed the cave, as we had to basically lie down flat in the boat while we entered because either the water was high or chinese people are just small and the cave was not tall enough to accomodate us. We finally made it into the decent part of the
Our lovely watercraft that carried us into the cave
cave and the boat dropped us off with our tour guide and a small group of Asian tourists.
The cave itself was pretty cool, but not unlike caves you would see in the states. The tour guide really seemed to enjoy pointing out various rocks to Elinor and telling her the names of them (Beautiful blossom flower, cat-licking-paw, etc) The only difference was the mud pond half way through. At the end of our tour we doubled back and Elinor and I had purposelly brought extra clothes so that we could hop into the mud pond, about 2 feet deep and toooons of fun. Our friends had shown us pics from when they had gone the day before, so Elinor and I hopped in. Fito on the other hand didn't look too fond of the mud so he chatted with the Asians and took pics. We didn't get completely submereged but i did manage to hit Elinor in the head with a mud ball. I was aiming for her body, but she happened to lean down at the wrong moment. Anyway, they have a pretty sweet set up down there, they take pics of you in the mud then
I have too many pictures of rocks that you probably can't see anyway
print em and laminate them. So we got some good shots of us mud fighting, and of course the only way to rinse off was with river water through a hose which was absolutely freezing, but the Asians seemed to enjoy the show. So we rinsed off and changed back into our dry clothes and headed out.
After an equally bumpy "bus" ride back to the station, we decided to check out the Dragon caves which were just a little walk down the road. We managed to find the ticket stand and tried bargaining for tickets. In China, you can bargain for just about anything, including our tix to the first cave, but apparently you weren't supposed to bargain at this one haha. So after making semi-fools of ourselves, we payed for the tickets and walked into the park. This was much more of an amusement park then the first, and much less authentic. There was a huge statue of a dragon, and you had to walk across a bridge to get into the caves. it was obvious these caves had been somewhat carved out to allow for more people to pass through, and multi-colored lights had been added
Elle in the dark
I decided not to bore you with all the random dark cave pics so here's on that at least has someone in it
everywhere. They were pretty, but not as interesting as the first cave had been. Plus we had a noisy asian tour leader right behind us so we had to move fast to avoid her. I managed to get some pretty cool pics though. After these caves we spend just as much time going through random gift shops trying to get out as we did in the actual cave itself. We caught a bus back into the city and, still caked with mud, got dinner on West St.
Now, the real adventures begin. We only had our hostel room til 6 so we headed there to shower and pack up our things. The driver of hte sleeper bus we were taking to Guangzhuo had texted Elinor that he wasn't going to pick us up till 8, when originally he had said 6. So we headed to West st and had some coffee and dessert while we waited for 8 to come. We picked up some snacks and headed to the post office where we were told to wait for our bus. In the states, this would have seemed weird but in China, anything goes so we hung out on the
Elle and Fito
with another rock....
sidewalk for half an hour, ready, to jump on every sleeper bus that passed by, but none of them stopped for us. So about 8:15 Elinor starts to panic. We had booked this bus through the hostel in Guilin, so Elinor calls them and starts harassing them because we were already pretty nervous that this bus was already over 2 hrs late from the original time we'd booked it for. We all took turns calling and harassing this poor lady so finally we called You Sha, our USAC director, and asked her to call and tell us what was up. Apparently the bus was caught in traffic but was on its way. We all took turns going and grabbing some food while the others watched our stuff and waited for the bus. I went and grabbed some KFC but we waited so long for the bus I ended up eating it on the sidewalk! Finally our bus shows up at 9:30! After we've waited for almost two hours. We get the very back sleepers on the floor which was convenient in once sense because we had it all to ourselves, but we also didn't get the chance to put our
Pretty but you can only shine so many lights on rocks before they get boring
stuff below the bus (I probably wouldn't have anyway because I'm paranoid about leaving anything important out of my sight) so we stacked our stuff on top of the other and tried to get comfortable. Immediately, I decide I have to pee and realize that I was in the very back of the bus, which meant that if there were a toiilet it should have been there. I start to have a melt down because I knew there was no way I could last the night without peeing. Thank Jesus about half an hr into the trip the driver pulled over so everyone could use the squatters before sleeping.
We head back into our sleepers which I swear are made for 5'10 people, and are just a tad too short for people my height, so I squirmed around for a good part of the night trying to get comfortable. The people above us were Americans teaching English in Inner Mongolia and were on their vacation. They were very friendly and it was nice to have other English speakers to talk to. I woke up about every hour in the night to change positions after I got cramped up in
More Dragon Caves
and more lights shining on rocks
one spot. Our bus was originally supposed to arrive at 7 in the morning, but we figured because it had been so late we would get in at 10 which was perfect time to explore the city. We only were in Guanzhou for the day, so we hadn't booked a hostel. We figured we would carry our stuff around till our plane left for Hainan later that night. Of course instead of getting into Guangzhuo at 10 or even 7, we get in at 5 am. Completely dark, nothing is open, and still freezing cold. Having gotten little to no sleep, Fito and I were pretty grumpy and seriously debating finding benches to sleep on. Luckily the Americans we met had a group of 5 and needed to take 2 cabs to their hostel. We jumped in the 2nd cab to see if their hostel had room. Unlike our hostels before, this one was not 24 hr and didn't open until 7 am so we passed out on the couches in the lobby on top of our bags.
We woke up around 8 and by some miracle managed to book a hostel for only 12 hrs during the day
Fito thought it was funny
so we could shower and leave our stuff somewhere safe. We ate breakfast in the hostel and then all took showers. This hostel had a real, enclosed shower!!!!! Apparently I was in there for almost an hour enjoying the hot water while Elinor and Fito took naps. After my shower I went out to the lobby to use the internet to check my mail and such while the other two showered. finally, Late morning, we decided to explore the town. We had a Lonely Planet guide with us so we picked out a few places we wanted to see, asked the concierge how to get there and then left to find a subway. On the way, we stopped and got minutes for our phones, but for some reason no one would put minutes on mine, which was dangerous because i only had 9 kuai worth left on it. So we gave up and found a subway. A lot harder than in Shanghai, because we didn't know where anything was but we managed to find our way. First we went to go find an Academy of somesort, which was pretty cool, except it had more giftshops than actual museum exhibits (in
China you can buy anything you see, for sale or not). We also looked around the aread, found a mall, and then decided to head to our next destination to find food. The next place we visited was a theatre dedicated to Sun Yatsen. We found a little restaurant near there and had lunch before going in to the park. this was another really cool building, and although I could've sworn Sun Yatsen brough communism, all they really said at his memorial was that he was the leader of revolution.... So after leading the garden in front of the memorial where tourists kept trying to take pictures of us we headed out to find a museum nearby. After half an hour of searching, we managed to find it about 15 mins before it closed at 5. they wouldn't even let us in so we toured the gift shop and decided to head back to the hostel.
On our way back, Fito decided that he knew an easier route to get to our hostel that would allow us to see a nearby island that we had wanted to visit. Once out of the subway, we decided that we were in
this is an angled pic of the entrance to the academy
a Chinese ghetto, but I saw a sign for a street that was mentioned in Lonely Planet that I wanted to visit. Although not recommended by the book, this street was a market for animals, including bats, monkeys, dogs, etc all being sold as either pets or food. It sounded sketchy, but I was also really intrigued so we took a turn down this weird road in the Chinese ghetto to find the street. I could tell Elinor just wanted to go back but I figured we were only in China once. It took us at least 20 mins of walking to find the "shopping" street. Just like the book had said, it was full of animals, but it wasn't as grotesque as I had pictured. No bats or monkeys, but a lot of puppies, kittens and bunnies, as well as some more unusual animals like turtles, fish and birds. Elinor was relieved because up ahead there was a Holiday Inn so she decided that we would head to it while we walked down the road. The animals were adorable but I really don't trust petting anything over here, so my fear of random diseases kept me away. Very sad
the back of the front entrance and the wood carvings
though! At the end of the animal street we found some more American/tourist shopping. We stopped in a Tibetian jewelry store where everything was over priced but we got some home made bracelets for 3 kuai each, which represented different things. I got wisdom, family, and love. When the bracelet falls off then something good relating to those is supposesd to happen. (I put them on my ankle and all of them are still there sadly)
We caught a cab near the Holiday Inn and headed back to our hostel when Fito realized that his navigation skills were far far off. We still had several hours till our red-eye so we went to a restaurant near our hostel that overlooked the river and had some dinner. Afterward, we packed up our stuff and grabbed a cap for our long ride to the airport, which was apparently about an hour away from town. I was exhausted and completely passed out for the majority of the ride there. We had about an hour at the airport to kill, so we tried to get our tickets back home changed. They were from Guangzhuo to Shanghai but we figured it would be easier
Big bonsai tree. It appears to have no purpose but it was cool anyway
to fly from Sanye, our final destination to Shanghai instead. After several minutes of communication difficulties (you'd thinking workers in an international airport would speak english?!) we gave up. We got on our plane and after a short flight (maybe an hour or so), we landed in the Northern part of Hainan in a city called Haikou. We got off the plane right onto the ground where we got on a bus take us to the airport to get our things. Outside the aiport at about 1 am was a disaster! There was no bus to take us to our hostel, and cabs were ridiculously expensive. Instead of letting the meter run, the cabs wanted 150 kuai to take us a few minutes away!!! We tried to use our expert bargaining skills but we were having no luck because we really had no idea where we were headed. We enlisted the help of a friendly police officer who hooked us up with his friend for 120 kuai. Total rip off, but I guess as foreigners we didn't really have a choice. We got to the hostel where the nice man said that a normal cab ride was about 15 kuai
These guys had pretty much no purpose what so ever but they were really funny and had to be documented on film
but we didn't care at this point, we just wanted to sleep. We got our room (we shared a 6 man with two other guests) and got to sleep somewhere around 2 am.
There are more photos below