Guilin 9.18.16

This is my last post about China! The days are a blur of moving, pausing, watching and always a lot of new.

Of the countries I will visit, China (along with India) felt more daunting. This feeling may have come from the language barrier, U.S. media portrayal of the country and its people, or the massive undertaking required to get my visa. Now, after a small number of weeks in the country, I am an enthusiastic advocate for travel in China.

Safety was a non-issue, a fact that remained true from the first time I posted about this topic. Although the places I visited were popular tourist destinations, they were popular with Chinese people as well as international tourists. Because Chinese people were also touring the same sites, price gouging was not common and hawkers were less active. I think non-Chinese tourists may still be a less common site, likely because of the paperwork for obtaining a visa, so people were incredibly excited, kind, and helpful to me. Seeing the development (shopping malls, goods available) and contrasting this modern reality with the traditional lifestyle, clothes, and foods provided great contrasts. Finally, the sites in China are incredible. The scale of the man-made sites and the variety of nature is stunning.

Yes, there were some moments when it was clear my mindset was different from the mindset of the people around me. At these times I would smile, chuckle to myself, and carry on. Talking to other travelers, we all seem to have had at least a few “Only in China” or “Oh China” moments. I am sure though, the reverse would be true for a Chinese backpacker in the U.S.

I am writing this post from Hanoi, Vietnam. Before reaching Hanoi, I slept one night in an airport and three nights in Hong Kong. The internet connection I have now is less strong so the photos are small. I leave tonight for a three day visit to a more rural area of northern Vietnam (Sapa) with more beautiful rice terraces and lots of hiking. I am looking forward to life outside of the city.

From Guilin City I booked a tour to the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces. I traveled with another person from my hostel and we were joined by a couple from another hostel. Another great group of people! It was a 3 hour journey to the terraces. We hiked for about 4 hours and then met our guide for the return to Guilin. The lush green landscape was incredible. And, for an added bonus, this was not the high season for rice terrace visiting so we encountered only one other group of visitors.
On a very rainy day in Guilin I enjoyed watching all of the people move around. Everyone walking in the rain uses an umbrella because it is too hot for a rain coat. Near the doors in each store there were buckets or other places to put the wet umbrellas. At main intersections in this city there were also permanent tents set up to provide shelter for the motorcyclists as they waited in the rain (or hot sun) for the traffic signal to change.
Guilin was the original tourist city in China.  The city is known for its lakes and rivers, all of which have highly landscaped paths and are popular for tourists and exercise enthusiasts. The sun and moon pagodas are well known landmarks.
With a couple I met in Yangshuo who were also at the hostel in Guilin, we took a local bus to a town called Daxu, about an hour from Guilin. This town is known for its ancient architecture and historic way of life.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Linda Woessner says:

    Another great update as you say 再见 (zài jiàn) to China! It’s been a fabulous trip so far and so looking forward to hearing about your next adventures in Viet Nam. We love all the details about street life, rainy days and of course those rice terraces. So amazing. We think of you every day as you continue on your travels. Love you babe, Mom and Dad

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ngyễn thị vân says:

    A great trip in china. I think i will go there in the future and hoping meet you again. 😊 you are the great person i met. You are so fun, friendly,… wish you have nice trip around the world and successful!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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