May 10, 2000

City: Yangshuo to Guilin to Kunming

Highlight: boat ride up the Li River

Favorite Food: random egg dish from the boat's mama-san


Location Item Local US$
Boat Dockride to Yangdi10012.05
boat ladyegg dish with rice151.81
blue truck guyride to Yangshuo50.60
local busrecliner seat bus back to Guilin50.60
city busride to post office10.12
China Poststamps for ten postcards384.58
Internet Cafehalf hour online use91.08
Lada Taxiride to the CAAC office50.60
CAACofficial bus to airport202.41
Airport Cafeinstant seafood noodles101.20
Guilin Aiport Authoritydeparture tax506.02
China Yunnan Airone-way to Kunming60060
CAACofficial bus to city50.60
Camelia Hoteldouble room for one12014.46

Shopping Around
We ran out in the morning to pick up some breakfast and possibly some souvenirs. Since Euge would be heading home to Tokyo from here, I was thinking of sending some stuff with him. Maybe some bamboo kitchenware or random wooden bowls or something. Unfortunately, most of the stuff that we found in the market was either too ordinary (produce, meats, spices) or too extraordinary (tacky trinkets dreamed up for the tourists in from Beijing or whereever). I made it out with only a small bag of raw tea leaves which took a full ten minutes to barter for (using all the numbers and words that we could think of).

Boat Ride
As I mentioned, we had arranged to take the reverse tour of the scenic Li River. The guy at our hotel reception had sold us two tickets for the ride up to Yangdi, and we were told it would be possible to arrange a bus or truck or something out of there back to Guilin. When we returned from our morning shopping, the boat captain was waiting in the lobby for us. We grabbed our bags and followed him back down to the dock.

Somehow I was surprised to find the only other passengers on the upstream boat ride were fellow backpackers from similar backgrounds. It is quite amazing how self-selection leads certain groups (ie the ten boatloads of Chinese who come down river every day) to do one thing, while we were all compelled to take the up-river ride. In any case, I suppose the passengers get what they are looking for, and our trip was no exception. The scenery was as fascinating as it was unending. One might expect to become bored of this landscape after thrity minutes or more of unrelenting rock scuptures. However, even without the nararation of "this is elephant rock, this is dragon rock" we were still enthtralled for the whole of the journey."

Lunch and Yangdi
The rest of the group had arranged to ride the same boat back downstream to Yandshuo in search of more adventures the following day. Euge and I had been talked into this convenient transfer to bus back to Guilin option. So after partaking of a simple meal prepared by the captain's wife in a makeshift "kitchen" on the back of the boat, we were let off at Yangdi to fend for ourselves. The first challenge was to fend off the half dozen centenariun women who awaited our arrival with bags of peanuts (?) and fresh fruit for sale. After nearly knocking each other in the water, Euge and I managed to make it ashore with a handful of peanuts and no clue where we were going.

Determined to "see a bit of this village" before moving on to bigger things, we ignored the over-priced offers of a couple pick-up truck drivers. I bought an ice cream from one of the three operating stores in town and we strolled up the mainstreet to have a look around. Minutes later, we were passing the local one-room school, and seemingly heading out the other end of town. Satisfied with our tour we confirmed that the walk to the main Guilin-Yangshuo highway was a good 10K or more (Euge's genius use of Chinese characters and some charades acting). We crawled back to the one remaining pick-up driver and agreed to his pricing. We were on our way through the valley and back out to some kind of civilzation.

Kunming and On
So ended my introduction to China. From here, Euge and I would part ways. We managed to find an internet cafe and a post office in Guilin, both of which happened to be down streets that were undergoing major construction. Guilin didn't look so bad this time around. I realized that maybe it was ONLY the construction that made things seem dirty and uncivilized the first time around. I even managed to find a nice police man who pointed me in the direction of the post office after my own attempt at using my Japanese/Chinese character knowledge.

Everything went smooth at the airport and we were both in opposites cities by nightfall. I headed straight for the Cameilia Hotel in Kunming, quite satisfied with my newfound comfort with CAAC shuttles, directions from passers-by, and surprisingly cheap yet comfortable accomodations, even in communist China. The adventure continues.

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