More chillin’ in Guilin

Guilin, Guanxi, 1-3 November

It’s the start of November and we’re travelling further south by bus to the city of Guilin. Guilin is part of the Guanxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, a wild, mountainous area with a subtropical climate and bordering on Vietnam. When we arrive to Guilin in the late afternoon it’s warm and it’s sunny. Looks like we’re back in summer, let’s get the shorts out!

Situated on the Li River surrounded by limestone hills and renowned for its karst caves, Guilin is a popular tourist destination. With a population of 5 million, it is by no means a small city, but it feels a lot smaller than the big cities we’ve visited up north.

Our hotel is a bit away from town along a tributary of the Li River called Peach Blossom River. We’re welcomed by very friendly owner Robert and his border collie Bailou. As of today we’ve officially used up the data on our Chinese SIM card, rendering our translation apps useless, so instead, to get here, we’ve had to rely on offline maps, bits of sign language and a healthy dose of goodwill. Thankfully Robert speaks English and the restaurant next door has a picture menu. The sunset view from our hotel room is pretty amazing.

In the morning we set out to visit the Reed Flute Cave, a natural limestone cave nearby our hotel. Once used as a bomb shelter, this 240 meter long water-eroded cave features stalactites and stone pillars created by carbonate deposition. Despite evidence of its popularity during ancient times, the Reed Flute Cave was almost entirely forgotten for a thousand years before being rediscovered in the 40’s by a group of refugees fleeing Japanese troops. Since its opening to the public in 1962, it has become a top destination to impress foreign dignitaries (such as Mugabe for instance) and domestic big-shots alike, as extensively displayed on the wall of fame outside the cave.

It would be impossible to get lost inside the cave, yet the only way in is with a guided tour group. Once inside the group is easily ditched so we get to quietly enjoy the spectacular rock formations, highlighted throughout by different coloured lights, the effect of which is pretty trippy.

We decide to skip the Longji Rice Terraces outside of Guilin, since it’s not the right time of year: The rice has just been harvested and the farmers have begun to burn the fields. With a lot of time on our hands we decide to take it easy instead. Our first three months on the road have been pretty fast-paced and Guilin is an ideal city for a good old relaxing time. There’s parks everywhere and quiet hangout spots by the lakes and rivers to have a picnic, you can climb a few hills for views over the city, plus the city has plenty good restaurants and bars, including an Irish Pub where we watch the final of the Rugby World Cup in the good company of French and English travellers. Well done the bokke!

After Guilin we’re fully recharged and ready for the next couple months ahead. Our final stop in China, Yangshuo, a town just 60km south on the same Li River is coming up next!


One thought on “More chillin’ in Guilin

  1. WOW WOW and WOW again!!
    I’ve been in a few caves but never have I seen anything like that. Spectacular.
    Glad you’re a bit warmer and enjoying the sunshine


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