Sat May12: I catch a train from Wuchang to Guilin
10:30 am/Y120. And, after cheap taxi to station, I say goodbye to the Turks, as they and I go our own way.
Well, the train could not not be more crowded, dirty, cold at times, other-times hot and stuffy, long sweaty, boisterous people and uncomfortable sitting despite being soft seats??? The trip never ends and Guilin never arrives, or so it seems to me. We are continually delayed and side railed to faster trains moving north. At one point, 5 trains are let passed while we wait. I eat only little in the early afternoon, some rice and potatoes with some sparse serving/topping of veggies.
I am finally sitting now with my first beer of the day, or rather the night, and it is not all that satisfying. I learn, in short, that even if riding the train during the day -- if it is long over 10 hrs. -- it would be wise to consider taking a soft sleeper, always!!! It is just impossible to stretch my back and legs. I come out feeling like I have been banged up in a car crash! The sleeper would offer some
much needed privacy to read, relax in the quiet of the sleeper car and away from the noisy and brash men who yell and chat loudly to each other on these domestic runs between Chinese town, cities.
Next day, I am somehow not up early enough for the Li R. pick-up, according to the tour operator; they came to get me at 7:10 and asked for someone but who knows who, not my name anyway. So, I make call to them, and it is still not too late to take the cruise on the boat but I have to take a Y100 taxi ride to meet up with the others at the warf on the Li.
River cruise is absolutely wonderful, mood sombre, clouds and fog everywhere! Let’s hope the pictures reflect the beauty of the kharsks against the brooding sky. This is just so much better than the Yangtze R. cruise and a hell of a lot cheaper!
On and off, the cruise over and I get dropped off on the wharf at Yangshuo. I then try to find the Carpe Diem Hostel in the rain; walk, walk and walk some more and I try this
old guy driving a pi-wagon type of bike, who doesn’t speak Mandarin, never mind any English. I give him Y10 to get me to the hostel but without success as he has no fucking idea where this place is or what I am trying to explain to him about the hostel. Help comes in the form of another ex-pat who speaks Chinese and she tries to explain where I want to go to me and the old man, to no avail. Finally, I get out and walk and eventually stumble to a neighbouring hostel which helps me out. I obviously must have walked right past it the first time and not seen it - no sign - and it was so so close to the path I was walking, possibly because of the rain but likely also because they have no clear signage on the hostel (later from rice field, it is easy to spot).
In the hostel, all is good. I take a shower and a short nap and eat later in the evening. I meet Zhou le, and her friend Lan lan, both who work for the hostel. They both are doing some sort of work placement as part of their program. We chat away like old friends; Zhou le (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I am up early in order to catch the pick-up for the rice fields, Dragon Backbone and aka Da'zhai, coming for me at 7:10am. I easily wake in time. The ride is long; and, we have to pay extra Y100 for 3 of us, myself and my German friends, Deniz and his girlfriend, in order to get them to take us to Da'zhai instead of the less desirable Ping’an rice fields, which is where the rest of the bus tour group are headed.
All goes more or less as well as can be expected for China, it is slow going to get there and worse, it rains for the better part of the morning but lets up after 15 minutes of our arriving, about 11:45. We have to return to the car for 2:20pm in order to get caught up with the others and for the return to Guilin and back to Yangshou, close to 7:00pm.
Back at the hostel, I pack for the journey/flight to HGK the next day from Shenzen airport; need to leave at 5:20am and the cost is a little on the heavy side -- Y300!!
I hook up with Germans Deniz and his friend, email@example.com
, who would like the pictures I took of them at the Dragon Backbone rice fields. In the restaurant of the hostel, we chat over curry and potatoes with rice and about the next day.
Lan lan and Zhou le and I have our last chance chat before I leave.
Up very early for 8:00am Tues. May 15 flight to Shenzen in order to take the underground link into HGK (what?), cheaper than flying into HGK. The upshot of this approach is the 5:30am Y300 taxi run into Guilin and the airport. However, I am in and checked by about 7:00; boarding is at 7:30am and now I sit and relax.
I later determine what a mistake this approach to getting into HKG has been for me? (More only for those asking me about this mistake face-to-face.) What a darn rigamarole to get across the border by bus!
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