11.02.2019 - 13.02.2019 7 °C
Guilin and Yangshuo China 12th/13th Feb
More Karst scenery. In fact these craggy, cloud encircled peaks were a feature of the landscape on our 500 mile journey north.
We have booked this part of our trip with a tour company China Highlights (recommended by the man in seat 61 https://www.seat61.com/China.htm). Our first 3 days in China have been spent in the Guilin area, a gentle introduction to China
First Impressions, most of which have surprised us!
• Quietly spoken, people eager to extend a warm welcome, this young couple had returned to their home village for their pre-ceremony wedding photos, they were eager to talk to us in English and to have a photo taken with them
• Stunning scenery along the Lijiang river and in the rural Yangshuo country
- Amazing limestone caves
- An abundance of coloured lights ( it is Chinese New Year!)
• Friendly smiling families and Chinese tourists, all of whom stare at us as Westerners (we have not seen any other Westerners whilst in Guilin) and then encourage their children to try out their English (speaking English must be very high on the parental aspiration list!) and have their photo taken with us
• A country that has/is rapidly developing with a sense of quality and pride. ( Despite the "Golden Arches" reflected in the ancient city of Yangshuo!)
There seems to be a real sense of strategic development. New houses, roads, railway, industry etc. Sensitively renovated historical sites.
• A communist country without a free at point of use health service?? (please don’t let the uk lose the NHS)
• A country that has been ravaged by war and revolution, so many ancient artefacts destroyed by WW2 bombs and during the cultural revolution
• The importance of education, respect for elders and sense of cultural identity
I suspect that there is far more that is hidden from the tourist but to be sure this is very good first impression!
Things that we had underestimated
• The cold: we dropped from 30 to 7 degrees in one train journey. 3 months of tropical weather has made us “nesh”
• How little we know about Chinese history or calligraphy
• How difficult it is when you cannot read any signs for shops, menus, directions etc. Some places have tried English translations. Often quite funny. At breakfast the menu said a “bowel of black fungi” the tour map for the Lijuang river described the scenery as “grotesque”