Well, today was our final day in Guilin. We slept in until 10 and after getting breakfast and coffee, we hung out in the hostel’s common room until about noon. Anxious to enjoy another beautiful day in Guilin and to check off our final local touring destination, we hopped on a bus and made our way over to the Reed Flute Caves.
The tour we went on through the caves was all in Chinese so I don’t know anything more about the caves than before we went, but we had a good time. The caves themselves are magnificently impressive mainly due to their sheer size. The rooms of the caves are huge and seemingly never-ending.
But I, personally, (Duncan disagrees with me) do not think it was worth 90 Yuan a person to go through. Rather than enhancing the natural beauty of the cave’s structures, the caves have been turned into something completely different. There are multi-colored neon lights on every surface, glow lights in the water, completely renovated concrete flooring throughout, laser light shows between stalactites and stalagmites, videos projected on the cave walls depicting a cartoon-ized version of cave creation history (including a very angry dinosaur and mammoths) and (we suspect, though have no tangible proof) even central heating. Compared to the Linville Caverns near Asheville, the Reed Flute Caves are more like well-lit underground rooms rather than actual caves.
The experience of the caves was distinctly Chinese in the “look how beautifully we’ve altered this natural creation”/no regard for environmental preservation/get as much money as they can out of it kind of way. Having said all of that, I am glad we went and despite the intrusive way of showing off the beauty, the caves are astonishing and wonderful.
In review, Guilin and the surrounding areas are absolutely astonishing in a multitude of ways and we are in love with this part of the world. I can totally understand, now, how Duncan originally fell in love with China when he was living in the Southern part of the country. It’s wonderful here and I would consider living here again in the future. I highly recommend a visit to Guilin, the rice terraces, and Yangshuo. They’re all amazing!
Some thoughts from our journeys here:
-Technology seems to know no bounds – even when we were on a bamboo raft floating down the Li River, locals had cell phone service.
-The mountains overlooking the Li River look like they would still house dinosaurs and I would not have been surprised had we seen pterodactyls fly out of one of the many caves like bats or a brontosaurus type creation peek his head out from amidst the foliage.
-I am continually astounded by the ignorance and disregard some people have for their surroundings. Throughout our several tours, I saw people (tourists) sleeping on the bamboo raft ride, closing the curtains on the bus to avoid the sun (and coincidentally closing out the astonishing natural beauty), and people taking selfies with a plastic chair behind them rather than admiring the view and magnificence of the place they paid quite a bit of time and money to be in.
-I have mastered my thank you (xie xie) so well that when a Chinese woman heard me say it (and only that) to her she exclaimed, “oh, you have such good Chinese!” If only she knew the truth…
-English is truly the universal language. We’ve now stayed in many hostels all over the country and in every single one, English is the language people use to communicate with one another regardless of your country of origin. The staff at the hostels even use English first (unless you are ethnically Chinese or make it clear you want to and are able to communicate in Mandarin). Regardless of whether you meet someone from France, Germany, South Africa, or the Phillipines, it is almost guaranteed you will all be able to communicate with each other pretty well through English. It is absolutely astounding to me! (And we have, once again, decided we wish we were European because, from our experience through hostel conversations, their linguistic abilities seem to have no limits.)
Tomorrow we are up early for our taxi to the airport and flight to Chengdu. I truly couldn’t be more excited for our trip to Chengdu to finally be here. I’ve been anxious to visit since Duncan first returned to the US from his time there over two years ago. We will be there for a little over a week and I’m sure the days will be as packed as they have been here. Stay tuned for pandas, mountains, hot pot, bars, and more adventures from Chengdu, Sichuan Province, and Southern China.
Thank you for reading!