18 September 2011

I can only describe it as a Freak Show [Guilin, China]

Picture a normal city; roads, buildings, people, cars etc... Then throw in some insane mountains right in the middle. But not normal mountains, these are more dramatic. With a small diameter, they rise steeply from the ground, randomly rocketing skyward from the flat ground. Stir well and what have you got? Guilin...

These mountains are littered throughout the city. The reaction I had when I first laid eyes on Guilin was similar to visiting Cappadocia. Am I on another planet? I had never seen anything like it before.

Guilin is one of the more developed in Guanxi provence. And by developed I mean lots of traffic, beeping horns, big buildings etc. I arrived early after the best train journey I have taken to date in China. I had purchased a sleeper ticket and did not realise until I actually got on the train. There was no way I would have bought a sleeper normally, I am way too cheap. But having already paid for it I just laid back and relaxed. I met up with my host that morning - Lucy, a seriously awesome girl. She took a lot of time to show me around and we even hung out together for a weekend in Yangshou, but we will get to that...

The headline attraction in Guilin? Seven Star Park. Climbing the small mountains provided beautiful views over the city. And there were wild monkeys running around all over the place! But they really sucker you in Seven Star Park (just like every other even slightly touristy places in China); charging you a crazy am mount to get in, then charging you again if you want to actually see anything. In the park there is a cave, named 'Seven Star Cave' (original, right?). To get in you have to pay an additional entrance fee. Inside is quite amazing, but they have China-fied it, with huge coloured spotlights, fake waterfalls... There is even this, ummmm, I can only describe it as a freak show. There was a woman with really long hair that she ties up in a really strange way in front of you. Then someone pulls back a curtain revealing another woman with rings on her neck. She was just standing there. I found it really strange. The funny part is that they only take groups through the cave every 30 minutes or so, so what do they do in the mean time? Sit there in the dark waiting for their 30 seconds of 'stage time'?


What else did I do? Hung out for a day and went swimming in a small village called Daxu. Drunk beer and relaxed in a tiny home restaurant in a small village. Went out for lots of local food. Relaxed. Went for a couple of big walks. That is about it really. Loved it.

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