29th July – 2nd August
My train to Guilin was like a spaceship!
And went pretty fast too…
On arrival in Guilin my taxi driver picked me up, and we had to get to the Li River in Yangdi before nightfall, where the bamboo boat driver would be waiting for me, to take me to the remote rural village of Langshi. It became apparent as the night drew in, that we would not make it to the river before it got dark. As the taxi driver spoke no English, and I no Chinese, I was unsure what this would mean, would I have to find somewhere to stay in Yangdi? Would i stay with the taxi driver? I had no idea! When we arrived in the pitch black it was evident that the boat ride would still go ahead, as the boat driver was waiting on the pier for me. Once afloat, he used a torch to check how close we were to the edges of the riverbanks, one side being sheer cliff faces of the karst mountains that fill this area. I was a little concerned to say the least, especially as I was told the journey could not be done at nightfall, and here we were doing it! It was also less than pleasant due to a hideous number of mosquitoes slamming into my face as I interrupted their night on the water! There were a few other bamboo boats also still on the water in the dark, it was quite scary trying to work out if there was a boat heading straight for us or not!
Well, I arrived there safe and sound, and was instantly welcomed into the house by a group of friendly people, an Italian couple with their young son, and two guys from the U.S and Chile. They had saved me some delicious food so I tucked into this whilst chatting away. The Italian family were leaving the next day, and the other guys Mark and Sergio invited me on a hike the next morning at 7am which I gladly accepted. This was with a local guide, and they like to go early to avoid the heat – good move!
I had booked to stay in this house through ‘airbnb.com’, where you can rent rooms in houses. This particular one had four large rooms along with the owners living upstairs. Here is a link to the listing on airbnb, I think it shows just how lovely this property was, and to be set in such a tiny little village, where there is no tourism, no shops or even a restaurant, it really was experiencing local life at the heart of it, and not through a guided tour window.
From left to right, a local guide, Haibo our lovely caretaker, Mark & Sergio
The hike the next day was lovely, through the village and up into the mountains a short way. We stopped off to meet the goats
and saw some great views along the way
Our guide who I swear puffed on about 40 cigarettes over the course of the 3 hour hike!
Sergio and a rather large citrus fruit
There are also huge butterflies and colourful dragonflies, which posed just long enough for me to grab a few shots!
The largest one, almost the size of my hand, was too difficult to photograph though as they were constantly on the move.
We went with the guide to a small cave, where Sergio and I managed to scare the crap out of each other, he screamed so I screamed and we had no idea what was in this dark cave….
A strange looking spider…
Sergio protecting himself with the fan (bearing in mind it was pitch black in the cave, it was only illuminated by the camera flash)
In the afternoon we visited a tea plantation, we had a lovely guide and it was a really nice trip.
We had our own little tea party at the end!
Holding the glass the proper way!
Some photos of the Italian family and Mark & Sergio, and also of the village Langshi
Bamboo boat ride
On my last day I decided to hike myself to a town called Xingping along the river. It was a four hour trek there through trees and along riverbanks, across stone beaches and tiny little villages. By 10am it was seriously hot! I think in the region of 40°! It was difficult to find my way a few times, but it felt good doing it by myself.
The riverbank I walked along
Cows in the walkway!
The scenery here is simply stunning
A funny little moment where I was unsure how to get round this part of the river, I eventually saw a way round but this lady insisted I couldn’t get round, so I gave her my 80p to get me across on her little raft, and I was chuckling away to myself because I knew I could have walked around the end quite easily, but I was so hot and didn’t want to walk up there on the small chance I couldn’t get through. Oh well it earned her a few extra pennies for the day, them silly tourists! 🙂
After the long trek I wandered around the nice little town, then took a boat trip back which took an hour, it was very relaxing and the scenery is out of this world.
Got back and immediately changed into swimwear and jumped into the inviting river for a cool down!
A little walk around the village of Langshi
This was a friend of the owners of the house
It is humbling when you see someone living like this, yet still he offered me drink, and meat and rice for dinner, which I politely declined because I already had dinner prepared at the house. This guy had very little, but still offered what he could to me. We shared some fruit, and I also took some photos, of which he pointed and said ‘jurgar’, which means ‘I want’ in Chinese, so I will email the photos to the owner of the house to show him.
Guilin was absolutely out of this world stunning, it will take a lot to top it!
Not so sure on the snack choices I had though….
Chicken feet anyone?!
So I opted for these instead…