We had two very long train rides out of Lijiang and into the Guangxi Region. I was picturing a cramped car filled with smoking and spitting Chinese men, but fortunately the trains here are really nice and comfortable. They are clean, modern, and even have a few decorative touches like rugs and lacy curtains. Even in the hard sleeper class I felt like I had plenty of room and I slept much better than I did in Vietnam’s trains. If you have more time than money, I definitely recommend traveling by train in China.
The landscape in Guangxi is just as beautiful as it was in Yunnan. Tree-covered limestone karsts jut up from the earth all over the place here, making it yet another World Heritage Area. It’s very similar to what we saw in Thailand’s Phang Nga Bay and what we would have seen in Halong Bay if the weather had cooperated. What’s neat here is that we’re inland, so these huge peaks randomly stud the cities and countryside. They also line the Li River, making boat and raft cruises very popular.
That scenery is what makes Guilin fun to visit. It seemed like a huge city to me, but I guess the population is only 1.3 million, which is kind of small for China. The city itself isn’t that interesting, but it’s built around all the karsts. We climbed up a couple of them and saw some pretty cool views of the surrounding area. And, for five yuan, we got our picture taken with peacocks in Seven Star Park!
Yangshuo is about an hour south of Guilin and is much smaller and prettier. It’s also much more touristy. But since all the tourists are on West Street (the pedestrian-only area with most of the bars, restaurants, and??souvenir??shops), they’re pretty easy to avoid. We found some really yummy dumplings and an awesome, cheap claypot place that we’ve been eating dinner at every night. The weather has been gray and rainy, again, but we did go for a nice walk along the Li River between the villages of Yangdi and Xingping. This area is quite famous and is even featured on the back of the twenty yuan bills. There’s a big rock climbing scene in Yangshuo as well. We’ve heard there are good climbs for beginners, but I think we had enough heights in the Tiger Leaping Gorge.
Pretty soon we’ll be leaving China. Our time here has gone by very quickly! I’m going to miss this stunning scenery and delicious food. We are coming back to China in May, but the areas we’re planning on visiting will be very different than anything we’ve seen in the south. This country is so big and diverse, I think you would need a year to??thoroughly??explore it all. It really is a fascinating place that I like a lot more than I thought I would.