April 11, 2010
Woke up when the train got to Guilin. I’m excited already!
It was cold and foggy when we got off the train. The next thing I noticed was a group of travelers (they were whites and they all had huge backpacks) looking clueless (I wonder if we seemed that way too ^_^). They were approached by an official looking guy and were led to a tourist information center. We followed suit. ;) Inside, they’ll brief you about their city: what to do, what to see, how to get around, they even gave us a map of the city. Very, very helpful people (not to mention kind too)!
What I wanted to do that day was to take the Li River cruise. We were booked that day for a guesthouse in Xingping. To save on time and money, we decided that it’s best for us to take the river cruise and then get off at Xing Ping. Hitting two birds with one stone. We just have to find someone who’ll give us a good deal. :)
Getting out of the train station, people offering various tours and packages swarmed us again. I was acting nonchalant and I was determined to ignore those who were quoting huge numbers for the Li river cruise (350 rmb is the standard rate). We got it down to 100rmb each! I was happy with that until I learned that the 2 locals we traveled with got theirs for 75rmb each. Oh well. ALWAYS always haggle! ;)
We were made to wait in a small, poorly lit lobby after paying for the trip. The lady we talked with then went back outside, probably to look for other tourists. We haven’t had our breakfast yet so we bought some foods sold along the street (freshly cooked rice cakes and breads). We were made to wait for around 30minutes, I was starting to get impatient and was thinking that she might have forgotten us already (or worse, that we fell for a scam!). hehe After x-minutes, she came back for us and led the way to a non-airconditioned (there was no need as it was very cold) mini bus full of locals. We made another (not-so) quick stop downtown where one or two more got in and we were finally on our way.
Once outside the city proper, there were tons of strawberry fields along the way. The scenery didn’t bore me as I got a glimpse of several karst mountains every now and then. After almost an hour of land travel, we were at our destination (no idea where coz we’re not really able to communicate with them).
Upon alighting from the bus, we made a beeline for the food vendors! hehe There were a lot to choose from: sweet potatoes of different varieties, nuts, breads, strawberries and other fruits, etc. Strawberries for me coz they look so delicious! One pack, probably around 500gms, costs 5rmb. I thought it was cheap :D
After a while, we weren’t done eating yet, the lady approached us and told us to follow her, again. Behind her were two Chinese tourists. We walked towards the river bank to where bamboo rafts were docked. One was made ready and we, the four of us, went in. My friend and I got the back seat. This is where we started our Li River Cruise. Yay!
There are 3 options when doing the Li River cruise. You can go on a big airconditioned boat with Chinese & English speaking tourguides and lunch with lots of other tourists (most expensive); a big non airconditioned boat with Chinese speaking guide and a packed lunch with the tourists too; or you can ride a bamboo raft and enjoy having it to yourself (cheapest). ;)
Our boatman also acted as our guide. He’d point out a mountain formation and would tell us something about it, about its history, how it got its name, what it’s supposed to look like I guess. Too bad that he only speaks Chinese. lol I was just taking a guess as to what he was saying hehehe I ended up trying to pinpoint spots he’d point out. ;)
Some pics of the famous Li River
Having your own raft (yeah, so we shared it with two more :p), eating delicious foods while on a river cruise with very scenic views totally made my day! :D