Travel Diaries: Guilin

My recent trip to Guilin, Yangshuo was simply incredible. Unlike the rushed and tiring itinerary of our tour group holiday in Hainan, our time in Guilin was relaxing yet full of worthwhile activities thanks to my grandpa’s well thought out daily plans.

One of the highlights from this holiday was gliding along on the bamboo rafts on Yulong River, also known as the ‘little Li River’. Both sides of the water are surrounded by the signature hills of the area and bamboo forests with signs of the occasional primitive civilisation of a few locals. These signature mountain ranges are all uniquely and strangely shaped. On a misty day, the scene is stunning. It was like I had escaped society and into a picturesque book. It was not peak tourist season and apart from us on the bamboo rafts there were very few other tourists, making the experience all the more intimate. It was almost unreal. I wish I had a notebook with me at the time, capturing the essence of the moment and exactly how the scene made me feel rather than trying to recreate the experience by writing this a week later.

The famous tourist street ‘West Street’ or ‘Xi Jie’ was also full of gems. From Chinese cuisine restaurants to western cafes and bars to souvenir shops, West Street is as eclectic as it is cultural. The majority of visitors here are tourists from all over the world and throughout China. One can hear various languages spoken on this street. This street holds a fusion of west and east. The courtyard like setting with an old oriental style fused with the jazz and pop music played by the bars at night makes an ambience of both quietness and noise, and chaos and elegance. My favourite place on this street is a cosy and quirky place called Ryley’s Café. There is a bookshelf near the entrance overflowing with books both in Chinese and English. On the opposite wall there is a note board full of random messages left by strangers. There is a small stage for live performances at night. The walls are ornamented with vintage posters and records. The bar at the back is lit with LED lights. It is a place where one could spend hours reading, writing, talking or scrolling through the Internet.

My trip to Guilin, Yangshuo made me want to travel and explore more. It reminded me of when I backpacked in Vietnam and Cambodia on a world challenge expedition with school. There were many backpackers in Yangshuo. When we were driving back to Yangshuo on the bus from having seen the Silver Caves, we stopped by the road to pick up two western backpackers. It startled me a little when I heard them speak Chinese. I find it somewhat refreshing and amusing hearing foreigners speak the language. Yangshuo is a place definitely worth visiting if you ever travel to China!

Photos will be uploaded soon!

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