Snakes, Trains and the Shire

It’s been a while since our last post so this should be a long one. Our 2 day trips from Guangzhou turned into 1 day trip and a day sauntering around, eating and playing cards in Starbucks (I know, I know…). We took a bus from Guangzhou to Zhaoqing (2hrs) where we watched fab music videos along the way – who knew that the nooma nooma song had been remade into a chinese pop song! It’s actually quite good.

Zhaoqing was a lovely town; we spent the afternoon walking through a protected park of lakes and limestone formations. You take a speed (sort of) boat from the main town for 5 minutes or so to the park. The landscape is beautiful and the caves are a great way to cool off in the heat of the day. Some great flourescent lights showing off the rock formations inside and a little boat ride which reminded us a little of the ‘It’s a small world’ ride at Disney World.

The next day was spent walking around Shamian Island in Guangzhou; straying only to have lunch in a local place across the river which we went to the other night for dinner. The meal was great – pork & potato hot pot, choy sum, rice and tea – and a guest. For the first time ever on any of our travels we were visited at lunch by an inch long cockroach crawling up Jared’s arm – you’ve never seen a grown man move so fast! Needless to say, the rest of the meal was consumed very quickly from there. We spent a lovely afternoon playing cards and drinking mango frappucinos in Starbucks until we had to catch our night train to Guilin.

The night train from Guangzhou to Guilin was great. We took a soft sleeper and in our room were two Chinese ladies who spoke excellent English; so we ended up chatting for most of the evening. Did you know that people born in the year of the snake have good luck if they are friends or are married to those who are also born in the year of the snake? Well, all 4 of us in the room were snakes; so we felt very fortunate.

We arrived in Guilin just after 7am and found a decent hotel (a bit smokey) and then went off for the day wandering around town. A much nicer place than Guangzhou – very green. We spent the morning at Princes City Solitary Beauty Peak (mouthful!) which provides a lovely view of Guilin and the surrounding countryside; but by the time we got to the top we were a little hot (understatement!) and all we could think about was cool aircon – must find cool aircon.

Shire Hobbiton Coffee Shop was a great place to veg out for a few hours. Not sure about the coffee but the drinks were good and the staff extremely friendly. We spent quite a while speaking to a young Chinese girl named Belinda who speaks like an Aussie, which was unexpected.

The next day (we’re on Friday 29th if you’ve lost track) we went to Reed Flute Caves and, after a failed attempt to find the commodities market, we went to the Seven Stars park for a snack. More cooling off in the Shire and then to a really good Guilin noodle house recommended by Belinda. We scoffed down 2 bowls of noodles and a coke for 6 Yuan (40p) – bargain!

The highlight of the week had to be the boat trip from Guilin to Yangshou up the Li River; although a few dozen boats go down the river together, the scenery is still amazing and it’s definitely worth the trip (and the cost). We’ve decided to spend a few days in Yangshou (likely for the rest of the week…) in our great little hotel – Morning Sun Hotel.

If we fancy doing anything tomorrow, it’ll likely be cycling through the countryside around Yangshou, but we don’t want to exhert ourselves too much.


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