We’ve arrived in Guilin!
Our journey began with a 6:30am wake-up call, last minute packing, and a trek to the end of the driveway to hail a cab. As usual, and fortunately, we didn’t wait long and, after a frustrating time communicating with the driver who just didn’t seem to understand Chinese, we were on our way to the BaodingDongZhan (Baoding bullet train station). Fortunately, our tickets bought for the first time in-person caused us no problems and we boarded the train and arrived in Baoding in about an hour. In Beijing by 9am, we were struck by the blue smog-less skies (quite a change from the past few days in Baoding) and rather than risking a two hour subway ride during rush hour, decided to shell out 48 kuai ($8) to take the Airport Shuttle Bus. Though it left later than we expected, the ride was less than an hour (we were expecting an hour and a half at least) and the shuffle through the airport was easy and uneventful. With two hours to wait after going through security and finding our gate, we ate our first meal of the day and grabbed a couple of lattes. Sooner than it felt like, we were on the plane and reinvigorated and relieved by the ease of the day’s traveling (walking, taxi, bullet train, bus, plane).
A pre-arranged cab picked us up from the airport and transported us to our hostel (Wada Hostel, rated the best in Guilin). Not even on the ground in Guilin for an hour and Duncan and I were already falling in love with this city. For the first time in four months we felt the refreshing relief of air with some percentage of humidity and were immediately struck by how good it felt to be outside in what has been described as a sub-tropical monsoon climate (despite the fact it was 48 – warm compared to what we’ve been experiencing).
Our hostel, staffed by super friendly women (and one man – the bartender) with excellent English, quickly checked us in and we settled in long enough to put our stuff down before we were already out exploring. We grabbed dinner at a Pizza Hut next to a mall across the street from our hostel and spent a good half hour before and after dinner exploring the nearby streets. It’s absolutely pleasant here! I counted to 30 before I heard a car honk (max I’ve ever gotten to in Baoding is 7 seconds), people use the sidewalk (rather than walking in the middle of the street), they aren’t staring with their jaws on the floor, and everything is (for the most part) immaculately clean. Just walking down the street is a rejuvenating experience and we are absolutely thrilled to be here.
So far in our travels, we haven’t left a city or a trip wishing we had done something we weren’t able to do. I fear, however, we may be leaving Guilin with things still to do and still to see because after flipping through a book of things to do in Guilin, we realized we wanted to do every single one of them (and there are a ton). This trip is going to be packed with adventures as we try to explore as much of this beautiful place as possible within the five days we’ll be here. What do we say? Challenge accepted.
Here’s a picture taken from the cab of the astounding mountains surrounding Guilin (a low-quality and less-impressive preview of what’s to come in the next few days):
Until next time,