Guilin, Our First Stop in China

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First impressions…
Three things stood out on our taxi ride from the airport to the hotel:

  • The climate is definitely tropical – like the Everglades in July.
  • It’s very green – greener than Florida. There are plants and flowers everywhere.
  • Construction is also everywhere. We saw at least a dozen high-rise apartment buildings under construction.

Size…
Several residents referred to Guilin as a “small town”. The metro population is around 800,000, but the surrounding development adds much more. They could have been referring to the compactness of the down-town area.

Language barrier…
We could communicate with the hotel staff, but their English vocabulary is limited. Outside the hotel, we didn’t encounter any who spoke English. When we took a taxi, someone at the hotel explained to the driver where we were going. A few products in the small market near the hotel had English on their label, but most did not. The young men working in the market could not understand us at all.

Motorbikes…
They are everywhere. Apparently, they are free to go wherever either cars or pedestrians go. Most are electric so you have no warning when they are approaching except for the honking. And the honking is constant, so it’s nearly impossible to tell which honks are relevant to you. Almost no one wears a helmet, including the small children riding in front of or behind their parent. It’s amazing to me that we did not witness an accident. Cars and motorbikes (and pedestrians) weave in and out, often only inches apart.

Tourists…
There were English-speaking tourists on the plane from Shanghai and also at our hotel. The interesting thing to me was that, in all of our walking around the beautiful lakes and the interesting back-streets, we encountered none of them until our last day. That’s not a complaint – we prefer it that way. Even in popular tourist areas, such as Seven Stars Park, we heard only Chinese spoken. That might not have been the case at another cave/park that’s more widely known to tourists. We had guidance from a resident who told us Seven Stars was a better choice.

Retirees…
On our first day there, we heard singing from a gazebo across the street from our hotel. It was something similar to our karaoke, but in Chinese. Someone at the hotel told us they were retirees and were there frequently. On our first morning, we say a small group exercising in front of the hotel. Every time we walked around the lake, we saw small groups either exercising or dancing. As we watched one dance group, we saw someone walking by who stopped, put her purse down, and joined in dancing. At Seven Stars Park, there was a group of about 30, all holding music, singing at the direction of someone in the middle. Several people told us that this is typical in Guilin – retirees gathering together.

Aroma Tea House Museum Hotel…
For us, this hotel was perfect. It’s right across the street from the lakes. The staff members are very friendly and helpful. Any time we left or returned, anyone behind the counter stood and spoke to us. The restaurant is on the 5th floor and has a great view of the lake. The food was good enough that we had dinner there 4 of our 5 nights.

Beaten path index: 3.6 (See the key here)

  • Cameras: 4 (very few, other than ours)
  • Language: 4.5
  • Path: 2 (frequent flights in and out)
  • Tourists: 4

Links
Aroma Tea House
Seven Star Park
Seven Star Park and other Guilin attractions

 

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Posted: July 18, 2017

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

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