Last weekend Wayne, Ashley and I took a small holiday. On Saturday after 'work' we caught a bus out to the airport, and flew out to Guilin, about 500 km to the northwest, situated on the Li river. We were met at Guilin airport by Clive, our tour guide for the trip, and were driven directly to our hotel. After a walk around the centre of the small city, we picked a likely looking drinking establishment and had a few drinks before turning in. We had ordered a Western breakfast for the Sunday morning (it had been some months since I had seen breakfast of any kind!), and we set off with Clive at quarter to nine (15 minutes late, but so what, we're on holidays).
We were driven out to the port, and got on one of 8 large riverboats that would travel in convoy down the Li river to Yangshuo - a journey that was to take some 4 hours and pass through some of the most breathtaking scenery that I have ever seen. If ever anyone who is reading this visits China, it would be almost criminal to leave without taking a Li river cruise from Guilin. Photos will be posted, eventually. Probably.
After the cruise, Clive took us on a bicycle tour around Yangshuo, which was incredible in that the roads we took were flat as a pancake, but all around us were these towering cliffs and hills. It was crazy how there was nothing in-between near-horizontal ground and near-vertical ground! The day was fine and sunny, and quite hot - Wayne was wearing a singlet, so he got madly sunburned, but I think it looks worse than it actually is. We were driven back to Guilin, we had dinner at a steakhouse (mmm, steak) and then boarded the train for the 13 hour homeward journey (there being no flights at comvenient times, for we had to be back in Shenzhen for 'work' on the Monday).
One thing that I noticed about the traffic around Guilin and Yangshuo is that there were very many bicycles, motorcycles and funky 3-wheeled trucks, which had the engine mounted on top of the front wheel, driving it directly, and steered as though it was a billy cart, with the whole front section turning. Weird.
The most memorable quote for the trip came from our tour guide, Clive. He was talking of the difficulties in being a lawyer in China. He says "to win a case, you have to give a large sum of money to the judge". That should make study of the law very interesting indeed!
This trip was used to test out the services of an agency called China Highlights, who are organising a tour for us (again Wayne, Ashley and myself) at the end of our contract. We will spend a week seeing Beijing, Xi'an (where the terracotta warriors are) and Shanghai. Should be good fun.
I didn't end up going with Wayne and Ashley to Beijing and Xi'an, but I did see Shanghai on the band trip.