Visiting Family in Guilin (2017)

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We enjoy traveling independently – going where we want, on our own schedule, at our own pace. It was very different in Guilin. It was almost like we were relatives coming to see family. It started with Alice.

“Alice” is the English name of a young lady I have been emailing since 2014 in preparation for our trip. We decided early on that Guilin would be our first stop and Alice has been giving us advice. She told us about an ancient town and island farming community that we should see. She offered to be our guide if she was available; if not, her parents would take us. When we finally set the dates, it was at a time she would not be in town. So, she gave me her father’s phone number and said we should call him when we arrive. He would meet with us to plan the trip to the village.

Alice’s Parents – Tom and Grace
We were later than we expected getting to the hotel. Tom had already called to see if we were there. I called him and he and Grace came to the hotel. Tom speaks English (he is a retired English teacher – written, not spoken, English) but Grace does not. I expected a 10-minute talk to set a time to visit the village. Instead, Tom arrived with a 3-page planning document covering more days than we were going to be in Guilin. After much discussion, we agreed on an agenda for 2 days. When we were together, Grace never let Deanna cross a street or go up or down stairs without taking her hand. Tom (much smaller than me) kept his hand on my elbow on stairs or any other time he thought I might fall. He was always ready to catch me if I did. He kept saying “careful, careful”.

Danni, Alice’s former student
Alice had recommended 7 Star Cave and Park instead of a better-known cave. She suggested that we have Danni be our guide. Danni is in her first year of teaching. She was both nervous and excited – this was her first time being a guide. She took great care of us (in the cave, her hands were always reaching out to catch me, as if she could). It’s a very good thing we asked her to go with us. There were lots of people in the cave and park, but none were English-speaking. We had a great time with Danni.

And the hotel staff
I don’t think we’ve ever encountered more friendly and helpful hotel staff. Every time we entered or left the hotel, every staff member stood, smiled, and spoke. They wanted to know where we were going, and where we had been. I asked for directions to a carry-out restaurant. Instead, one of the staff member led me to a local restaurant, ordered for me, and helped me figure out what spices to add. There was no English menu, no English name on the front – I would never have found it without this staff member. And if I had, there’s no way I could have ordered.

Photos from 7 Star Cave and Park with Danni

Photos from Daxu Ancient Village and MaoZhou Isle with Tom and Grace


Posted: July 1, 2017


Category: 2017, Asia, China, FBPosted, Map, Round-the-World 2017, Southeast Asia


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