Cascoly Travel -- China: Guilin - Li River Cruise
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Cascoly Travel
China: Guilin - Li River Cruise

Got into Guilin about 8. City has really changed since ’85.  Impossible to recognize the downtown area – none of it existed then.  Now it looks like a Vegas or Hong Kong strip, with high rises and neon everywhere, including neon palmtrees.  Ugly results of the tourist boom here.  Guide said that in the 80’s 90% of the tourists were westerners; that their numbers had continued to increase, but that Chinese tourists now account for 80% of all visitors.  That’s confirmed by the construction everywhere.  Luckily(?) the city is built on karst that’s honeycombed with underground rivers and caverns so it’s difficult to build a strong foundation for very high risers.  Arrived at dinner spot about 9 (to expected grumbles about why didn’t we just skip dinner since we’d ‘already eaten on the plane’).  To hotel about 10.  Raining lightly. 

DAY 10    GUILIN 10/31 Wednesday

Here you will board the Li River Cruise, marvel at the needle-like limestone hills in lush tropical growth. Arrive Yangshuo in the afternoon and stroll around in the free markets. Coach back to Guilin for dinner.  

Another good breakfast, with great, fresh omelette. Left hotel about 8:30 for a 50’ ride to the wharfs – over a dozen tour boats docked & waiting.  As they fill, they drift off downstream.  Would be a spectacular ride, but it’s lighting misting and rainy and low clouds often block views of any but the nearest peaks.  Mists may be fine for a painting, but you need to be able to see something.  Shot a lot of images, but much in monochrome as the peaks drifted by.  Some better luck with the fishermen on bamboo rafts and water buffalo, much nearer to the boat.   Called in for lunch just as we were entering one of the more scenic sections.  Good lunch, especially as the guide had said not to expect too much from the boat’s kitchen.  After lunch, the craggier peaks became less frequent. Interesting group of people on the boat – Noel, Australian former missionary in China & Taiwan with his Chinese wife & daughter (he now handles office supply exports); a woman from Brooklyn who’d ‘been everywhere’ and worked in a jewelry store so never shopped anywhere  but in NY; another guy, well traveled, but only in May and October since he works at Whitetail(?) ski resort in VT (we talked about skiing in Europe, especially Verbier and its new Mt. Fort lift).  Also an interesting group of Japanese in the ‘first class’(?) section, all in suits, and several constantly on mobile phones. 

We got into Yangshuo about 2:30.  Good shopping, with high prices, but very good results with persistence.  Most sales ended at 20-30% of initial asking price, and cheaper than similar items elsewhere. 

We took ‘election’ buses back a short way to our buses which are no longer allowed to drive up to the town itself.   Then another hour back to the hotel, arriving about 5. 

We’d asked Kana to try some local dishes, so we had a ‘hot’ table at supper.  Best dish was Sour long beans with sauteed pork, also beef with onion, pickled kelp balls,  deep fried whole fish with sweet sauce (ate eye and surrounding meat of head), mustard sauteed with onions and peppers, beef with several kinds of hot peppers, bok choy and several other dishes.  Fairly hot, but all different and tasty.   In the evening a cormorant watching and a local cultural dance show

DAY 11    GUILIN – CHONGQING 11/1 Thursday

Visit the mysterious Reed Flute Cave, Fubo Hill and the Elephant Trunk Hill. Depart via flight SZ4342 at 2030 arrive in Chongqing at 2140 transfer to 4-star Holiday Inn Hotel.   

 Reed Flute Cave


Had been misting when we went in.  When we leave it’s pouring rain. On to Fubo Hill.  I recall it as being rather isolated, but now it’s a park in the middle of the development.  The tunnels thru to the Buddha statues now have little souvenir shops everywhere, and local girls stand by the statues in traditional dress, waiting to pose for pictures.  Just off the cave, fishermen pole their narrow bamboo rafts and one man has a raft with cormorants.  Still raining. 

Lunch first appeared to be grim – walked into a western looking buffet setup, but in addition to the westernized sweet & sour porks et al, there was a Chinese set up at the far end with excellent dim sum (pot stickers, waterchestnut cakes, pumpkin cakes, lotus sesame balls), deep fried squid and others.  Turned out to be one of our best meals. 

Short stop at Elephant Hill.  We stayed in the bus.  Across the way there were a few shops open, since there were few tourists in the rain.  Len started to cross the street and other doors flew up and people started calling to him.  

Visited the Landscape Art Research Institute for a demonstration of Chinese painting – young artist did a bamboo painting in about 10’.  Then left to wander the display halls and of course we found something.  As often in the showrooms, a young woman attached herself to us as we went from hall to hall.  Eventually we settled on one of the traditional paintings we’d seen in the first hall. Originally $350, they came down to $250 rather quickly (“Don’t tell anyone else”).  Offered $200, and  she had to check with her.  He said ok, but that it was luckier if we had a number ending in 8, so he suggested $228.  Not sure why $208 wouldn’t have been just as lucky, but we accepted. 

No one wanted to have a foot massage, so we visited a local market.  Baked ducks hanging from street stalls, inside the enclosed section, fresh veg, lively sales with lots of locals buying provisions.  Many kinds of tofu – fresh, dried, braised, deep fried.  All sorts of other dried foods and fish, several kinds of mushrooms, many kinds of chiles and other peppers.  Extensive meat section, with live ducks & chickens, all kinds of fish, eels, shrimp; one woman elaborately picking out her purchase, minnow by minnow. Long aisle of ducks for sale, and one or two dogs in cages.  Lots of pork slabs, bacon and ribs, some joints that might have been deer. Larger fresh fish, heads cut off and displayed with gills and jaws flapping.   

Dinner -- Corn & cucumber; dried bean curd; pork rind with peppers and onions (Len inhaled and gave a good Don Corleone impression); beef with peppers and onions;  pork and potatoes, and crowning the meal – a plate of white bread!  Deep fried fish with ginger and peppers.  Sharon & I shared the heads from the 2 tables. 

Later off to airport.  Took awhile to get the tickets and thru security, plane about to board as we reached the gate, but otherwise no problems.  

Li River Cruise

   Takeout duck      Market  Guilin
Takeout duck Market Guilin
   Woman selling vegetables  Market  Guilin
Woman selling vegetables Market Guilin
   Vegetable market  Market  Guilin
Vegetable market Market Guilin
   Dog & chickens in cages   Market  Guilin
Dog & chickens in cages Market Guilin
   Ducks in cages    Market  Guilin
Ducks in cages Market Guilin
   Chickens in cages Market  Guilin
Chickens in cages Market Guilin
   Bicycles   Market Guilin
Bicycles Market Guilin
   Woman with scales Market  Guilin
Woman with scales Market Guilin
   Mixed vegetables  Market  Guilin
Mixed vegetables Market Guilin
   Squid Market      Guilin
Squid Market Guilin
   Selling fish      Market  Guilin
Selling fish Market Guilin
   Selling roast duck        Market  Guilin
Selling roast duck Market Guilin
   Eggs  Market      Guilin
Eggs Market Guilin
   Dinner            Guilin
Dinner Guilin

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