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Published: October 5th 2012
It was time to move on. We had a flight from Kunming to Guilin in the afternoon. We decided to take the bus this time. It took about five hours from Dali to Kunming with a 30 minute stop. The time went quite fast, we were accompanied by lovely scenery for the entire journey. I took a few photos from the window. We watched all the stages of the rice harvest, from green stalks not yet ready, to harvesting of the yellow stalks, then binding all the rice in stacks, and finally the cleared field of golden stubble. Most of the fields we passed were still green and not ready for harvesting. By the time we got to Yangshuo a few days later, they had already finished the harvest and were burning off the stubble and other waste. It started raining the day after we arrived and that put out a lot of the fires. All across south-east Asia, farmers burn their fields after the harvest, using the ashes as fertilizer. At certain times of the year, you can hardly breathe in Asia because of the smoke.
When we got to Kunming I wasn’t sure how to get
to the airport. I rehearsed a little speech, probably my longest of the trip. I had met very few English speakers so I always assumed that I would have to explain myself in Chinese. I turned to the girl in the seat in front and told her I had a flight to catch and if she knew how to get to the airport and how much a taxi should cost. She didn’t know, she wasn’t from Kunming she told me in perfect English.
As with everything else, we managed. I negotiated with a taxi driver the price. Then he wanted to pick up other people and told me we would have to wait about 10 minutes. He said it takes about 50 minutes to the airport. We spoke only in Chinese. I understood him. He understood me. I was happy.
As soon as we arrived in Kunming, we left for the airport. It seemed to be a very polluted city though. The sky was very grey and the air quality was bad. It looked a bit grubby. It is known as the city of spring because of the year-round mild climate but it didn’t
look very spring-like and if there were nice areas of the city we didn’t see any on the way to the airport. The airport was big and modern and we flew from there to Guilin where we spent the night.
We stayed in a hotel next to a lake that was lit up with lights at night. We had a stroll around the lake and then went to the night market for some food and souvenirs. I liked Guilin. The city itself was modern and clean with a tropical-feel. The air was warm and it seemed to have a slower pace than the other places we stayed in. I bought some line drawings, I wish I had bought more. I didn’t see them anywhere else.
A group of old people started exercising just outside our window at about six in the morning. They weren’t loud and the sounds coming through the window didn’t bother me. They only played music from eight. We went out looking for a place to eat a western breakfast. Everywhere we went groups of women in the 50-70 age group were exercising. They looked to be in very good shape.
When we ate breakfast there was a really accomplished group of four older women doing tai chi, almost synchronized.
I liked Guilin. Perhaps we should have made it our base for a trip to the rice terraces before leaving for Yangshuo. But if we had done that we would never have really seen Yangshuo at all because when we arrived, visibility wasn’t great, but it was a whole lot better than the rest of the time we were there. So after our morning walk around Guilin whose surrounding karsts could now be seen in the daylight, we checked out of the hotel and went off to Yangshuo in a taxi.
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