While planning our one month getaway to China, we knew we had to take in some nature. My husband kept mentioning "the mountains". Guilin had those. After a lot of hassle booking the tickets through a Chinese travel app (damn you, c-trip), we were ready to go. Never. Take. Shanghai Airlines. Again.
That plane looked like a backdoor bathroom in bar that only serves warm Bud Lights. The stuffing was coming out of the chairs. I tried to peel my eyes away from any joining of hand-rest to chair, or chair to chair, or crevices between chairs. Stains on the compartments above that I only hoped were some misplaced melted chocolates. I felt sorry for the staff who had to walk on those carpeted aisles, they were nice people too.
But we did finally arrive. Our first hotel was in Xiangshan, named Elephant Trunk Hill Hotel. It was a lovely little place, we had a double that led out into a cute terrace. Unfortunately, it was so hot and the mosquitos were little missiles zooming around outside, we kept ourselves locked up.
A busy little lady worked at a tourist booth in a corner of the reception area. Nice but a bit frantic to get us onto any sort of tour short of launching us out of our chairs. We chose a boat tour down the LiJiang River into Yangshuo.
If I could somehow avoid tours, I would at all costs. But I hadn't the legs to swim down that river. Next time, I'm renting those small motorboats down the LiJiang. But at that time, at the crack of dawn, we were ushered into a tiny bread van with a chatty tour guide and her little microphone of terror.
She tried to sell us the range, from perfumes to nuts to local stories. I sat with my sunglasses on and gave my best washed out foreigner look as I can when she came around.
We got onto the boat at midday, and here's the obligatory photo porn of those famous mountains.
Of course, the best time of day for these photos would've been nearing sunset. I was able to snatch something closer to the ideal off the main bridge in Yangshuo.
As for the hotel, we had outdone ourselves. The Zen Garden Resort stole our hearts with their pictures, and we splurged and went for the best room in the bit.
One of the perfect places to relax and take in the countryside. They also provided electric mopeds outside for anyone to use. No disclaimers, no waivers for fools. Just a total trust that if you eat dirt, you do so on your own time.
In small rural areas like Guilin, electric mopeds are the thing to do. We zipped through small back roads, strained our necks to observe around the corners of the colorful local abodes. We flew past green moss-covered mountains as the evening sun set fire to the lush countryside. The rush and the feeling of freedom the best I've ever had.
We did visit a touristy part of Yangshuo in a small sector between West Street and Pantao Road. Here you will find your Starbucks and your fast food chains, but also some very delightful little alleyways full of local shops.
Last but not least, I did manage to only get a small inking of what I saw. 3 days in Guilin was too short it seemed, but somehow perfect enough to leave a taste of want in the back of our throats for next time.