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Published: January 31st 2014
From January 12th on started my annual 5 week Chinese new year holiday. We had wanted to travel to Guilin for quite a while now. Guilin and the province of Guangxi is known for the origin of Mandarin oranges, the Karsts mountains and their hospitable culture. On my way out of work I said farewell to Blake, the principle, and told him of our planned trip but that we did not have any specific destination in Guilin. He then suggested we travel to Yangshou which is a town outside of the city of Guilin as it has easy accessibility to the mountains. From there he then recommended that we go to an even smaller community, a village, just outside of Yangshou, Xingpin. He described Xingpin as a very quiet and beautiful town and suggested a hotel. I took Blake's suggestions and planned around them.
We got return train tickets to and from Guilin on-line on Thursday the 16th and by the 20th we were off on our adventure. We got a night train where we leave at 7pm and arrive in Guilin by 7am. On the trains in China there are different categories of tickets with different comfort levels. The
more expensive the ticket the higher the comfort level of travel.
The categories are: standing (where you stand the whole trip), hard seat (where you sit on a wooden seat in a crowded train car), soft seat (less crowded and reclining cushioned seats), hard sleeper (your own bed in a 3 level bunk bed with 6 beds per room) and finally a soft sleeper (2 high bunk with 4 beds per room.
We got 2 soft sleepers. I had never taken a soft sleeper train ride before. The train ride was great and we shared our room with another young family. We arrived in Guilin and from the train stop walked a few blocks to the bus station and got directly on a bus to Yangshou. The ride was about 2 hours to Yangshou and en-route we first saw some of the Karst mountains within the city. Directly upon arriving we jumped on a mini bus for a quick 45 minute ride to Xingpin. Our final destination was beautiful and because we were traveling during the off season there were few tourists. Our arrival time was around noon and we had to cross the river Li to our
hotel, "Our Inn". We unpacked, had lunch and then a long nap. Meili had been quite easy to manage through the travel and slept peacefully.
When we awoke it was the late afternoon so we looked around our island and then arranged an outing with a local fisherman. The fishermen in Guangxi province have a unique way of catching fish, they fish with live birds! The Commorant birds dive deep into the clear waters of the Li river and catch fish. The fishermen noticed the birds skills centuries ago and have trained the birds to catch fish and then spit them up on the boat for the fisherman and Commorant birds to eat.
The next day we took a raft down the Li river and stopped along the way on some islands and riverside communities. After showing us the location of that inspired the picture on the back of the 20 Remenbi currency of China our guide informed us that it was him who toured the artist around who drew the bank note picture on his raft and our guide who is represented as the fisherman on the bank note! Over the next couple of days we wondered
around Xingpin and also decided to switch hotels to a more central location. By Friday we decided to climb a local mountain Lao Zhai Shan. Meili and Helen made it almost all the way up so I quickly finished the trek took some photos and joined them resting at a rest point. We decided to spend the next 4 days in Yangshou. Yangshou is a very central town that is definitely more geared as a longer standing tourist local. Cleaner streets, more attractions and shopping (both chain stores and local stores) are what Yangshou is all about nestled within the mountains. We spent the first day in Yangshou trying out the local delicacy Beer battered fish which was quite good and a common dish in most restaurants there. We also did a little shopping on West street, a pedestrian street for tourists which extended to the 2nd day as well. By the 3rd day in Yangshou we took a tour to Silver cave, a massive cave filled with stalactites rocks illuminated by colored lights. By the fourth day we felt like we got a good exposure to what the local surroundings had to offer and so we rented a scooter
and traveled around to surrounding communities tourist destinations.
We then took a bus to Guilin and by 7pm in Guilin boarded a soft sleeper night train back to Wuhan. The trip was quite enjoyable and a cost effective way to explore more of China as a family. The remaining three weeks of our vacation will include completing errands and getting ready for work.
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