Guilin acted as our base while we visited the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in the south of China.
We stayed a few nights at Guilin Wada Hostel, which offered value for money rooms and good Chinese food. My partner particularly liked their homemade dumplings with a refreshing Chinese beer. I tended to gorge on their vegetarian fried rice or hand-cut noodles.
As soon as we arrived at the hostel, we booked our tours for the next couple of days. These included a day trip to Longji Rice Terraces (in Longsheng County) and a boat cruise, including lunch, down the Lí River. Despite the periodical torrential rain each day, we also managed to do some much needed washing, which we hung on the line under the hostel’s covered roof.
Highlights from Guilin were the Sun and Moon Pagodas. We caught a local double-decker bus from our hostel to the Shan Lake in the centre of the city. When we arrived, the two towers were faintly illuminated in the eerie sky. The white, Moon Pagoda is seven storeys high and is connected to the taller, yellow, Sun Pagoda by an underwater tunnel. We barely had time to take a photo when a violent thunderstorm swept through.
We ran to the nearest building to hide under its awning. A string of other people also lined up along the slope of the building, which happened to be one of the park’s cafés. It was closed – and soon began to flood. It was one step down from us (we were standing at the top of the slope) and we could see little bits of paper and the welcome mat floating around the floor through the window.
Lightning and thunder simultaneously hurled at us. The people down the slope were knee deep in water. Some of them gave up and walked out into the pouring rain to try their luck elsewhere. We were apparently lucky to be at the top of the slope – although the wind made sure we still got wet.
When the thunder and lightening moved on and the rain weakened, we ran to the shops. We sat in Starbucks drinking hot chocolate until the storm finally disappeared. Then we ventured out to take the much-anticipated photos of the Sun and Moon pagodas – now beautifully reflected in the darkened lake. We walked along the edge of the water for a while before heading back to the bus stop.
- day trip to Longji Rice Terraces (in Longsheng County)
- boat cruise, including lunch, down the Lí River
Transport: we took the local double-decker bus around Guilin. From our hostel, the bus went past Guilin Railway Station and on to the centre of town. We bought tickets on board (make sure you have the right note to pay for the bus).
Travel advice: we visited in June so it rained everyday. If you’re also visiting in the rainy season, make sure you have a raincoat. The rain doesn’t last that long, so don’t let it stop you from sightseeing.
Photo: the Sun and Moon Pagodas reflected in the Shan Lake in Guilin, south China.