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Guilin Of New Families and Beautiful Lights

2007-10-01


Guilin  Of New Families and Beautiful Lights

 

A reason I would have major problems moving to China is my loving family. Having a sister an ocean away and grandparents in multiple countries already has worn the chances of family gatherings thin, but recently seeing my grandparents learn how to use a computer, sign onto skype, turn on their webcam to speak with me half way across the world really touches my soul. It is amazing what people will learn to speak to their grandson. Bless them. Years down the road when somebody asks, I will be proud to say that I am from Gen-Y where communication through the internet has not only made travel so much easier, but made your loved ones always just a few clicks away. That being said, when you are made part of a family in China, you gleefully accept.

 

I arrived at the Wada hostel, Guilin in the Guangxi province to be greeted by the many boys and girls working there. The new hostel having only been opened in August had the fresh smell of friendliness about it. We ate together, we drank together, we visited caves and played countless games of pool and badminton. If you have ever met a group of people who you feel like you have known since you were a child, they were it. After four days, leaving the place was hard. I put on my bold, “I’m a man, I don’t cry” face, but inside I wept. Ah Guilin, just another one of those large cities which seem to have no soul on the outside, but delve a little deeper into the cracks and you will find everything you are looking for.

 

Ake, a girl from the Western province of Sichuan was spending her last two days of a month working in Guilin taking in some sights, so with the promise of a Reed Flute Cave, I joined her on her tourism adventure. The cave is home to numbers of colossal stalagmites and stalactites which the Chinese have masterfully lit up and given deep explanatory names to. My memory is not good enough to remember any of these, but they go a little something like this - 

 

The Lion Overlooking A Morning Sunrise Over The Savanna

 

Or

 

The Group of Elephants Drinking Water Out of An Eternal Pool

 

As I felt confident that getting a Chinese tour would be more fun for Ake, and that making my own descriptions of the rock layouts with my childish imagination would serve the same(or better) purpose for me, we did just that.

 

Can you see the Eternal Pool?” Ake would ask me after hearing the description from the guide.

 

Mmmmm, yes” I would reply.” If I could picture an eternal pool, that is exactly what it would look like.”

 

As the explanations grew more absurd, we strayed from the tour-group and simply began making up our own rock formations.

 

See there, that’s the Grasshopper Jumping Over the Field of Golden Wheat or “Look at the Jellyfish Forest” And it couldn’t be China without your rocks looking like dragons, there were many of those.

 

After returning to the hostel, Ake prepared a fine Sichuan lunch for everybody with my return promise of preparing a Russian meal for dinner. One thing I have missed dearly when travelling is cooking, so to get an opportunity to prepare some food was fantastic. I did not have access to a deep fryer, so any inclination of American cooking were out the window. I settled for some traditional ‘katletye’(chicken mince patties) with bread crumb cauli-flower and Russia’s substitute for rice…potatoes. The meals arrived, chop sticks were in hand and food was devoured. If any guess of how good a dish is based on how much of it is left, the result was positive. Everything was eaten and some compliments even resulted. My mother would be proud.

 

The general reason for entering Guilin is to gain easy access to the Li River and one of the most scenic areas in the country. The more commonly known town of Yangshao has been on backpacker lists of places to visit for years and the smaller towns of Xingping and Yandi are gemstones in the rough on the way. Here is where I finally took a dive into the deep end. The most common way to travel down the river is by relaxing bamboo raft. Just pay 150Y($20) and you are on your way to Yangshao, however the problem with this is back to Hugo’s comment, “it’s the getting there”. With taking a boat, you miss so much. For this reason, I have decided to trek. No volunteers have come through to come with me, so I go it alone. Just follow the river…how hard can it.

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