Morning all! 😎
It was breakfast at 8am this morning, in preparation for Jeremy, our Guide, and his half-day walking-tour of Guilin at 9!
Techy note: Connectivity here in our room in Guilin is a nightmare, with even the VPNs refusing to connect. Worst of all, it’s random. 😧
Although the weather doesn’t look too promising, at least it’ll be warm rain! ☔
We’re all looking forward to our tour today! Guilin is known for the greeness of its surroundings and dramatic landscape of limestone karst hills. With a population of (just) 5 million, it feels very relaxed here and much less hectic than other Chinese cities we’ve visited so far.
At its centre are two lakes, the Shanhu (Cedar) and the Ronghu (Banyan/fig), remaining from a medieval-era moat that once surrounded the city. Boats travel through these and other lakes via connected rivers. On Shanhu Lake’s shore, twin pagodas, the Sun and the Moon, light up the sky at night.
On today’s adventurous timmetable…
- Inside Guilin’s ‘Forbidden City’ including The Princes’ Palace
- The NEW old part of the City
- A wander round Ronghu Lake
Inside Guilin’s Forbidden City
We were all ready on time and soon on our way into Guilin’s Forbidden City. Unlike Beijing‘s namesake, (reserved for the Emperors, Guilin’s equivalent is for the next level down – the Princes).
I always wondered whysome cities are ‘forbidden’ – basically, they aren’t are they? Today, I realised it’s becausethey’re so difficult to get into! Our experienced Driver, Mr Chou together with Jeremy’s local knowledge tried their best at three different entry points – only to be turned away by officials from the first two! This is one of the benefits of doing all this kind of stuff with a Guide – if we’d been attempting this independently, I think we would have given up! Apparently the issue is about ‘certain types of vehicles not being allowed inside the walls’ (with the rules changing weekly!) 😮
We eventually found our entry point and we quickly disembarked before another official ‘moved us on’. Now inside the old city walls, we realised there was plenty to see here. Disappointingly though, it all felt a bit ‘second division’ compared to Beijing’s equivalent.
As the map above shows, there’s plenty to discover here and Jeremy did a fine job in explaining it all, including: The Couple Tree; The Fuquan Well; The Reading Cave; the Peace Cave – and the one that nearly killed me: The Solitary Beauty Peak (but more about that later!) 😯
This far into the break, I do confess to now be suffering with a mild case of PaEDO (that’s Pagoda and Every Dynasty Overload) and if you lined up all the Pagodas we’ve seen so far, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you about any of them! 😯
This is the major attraction here, familiar in its red and yellow colour scheme for Palaces out here. It, and the surrunding area have all been rebuilt, so that took away some of the ‘wow’ factor. We saw another group go inside, but Jeremy advised against it as it was apparently full of ‘tourist tat’. The guy on the front door looked impressive in his colourful uniform, but he also looked a bit half-hearted and seemed more interested in chatting with the flower-arranger and checking names on a list, than looking stately! 😉
That old saying about ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ is rubbish! Case in point, the innocently named: Solitary Beauty Peak, it promised breath-taking views across Guilin.
But first I had to get there! And the only option was pretty much straight up and not a lift in sight! Whilst Ann chose wisely and agreed to observe. Ralph, Karen and I headed for the steps – all 306! – I lost count (and consciousness) at around 230! 😓😓
Was it worth the climb? I’m tempted to say ‘yes’, but it was a close-run thing as unlike Ralph and Karen who are in the peak of fitness, Guinness and Pie Lover Palmer wheezed and groaned his way to the top! (just!). Did it kill me doing this? Almost! Do I feel stronger? Absolutely not!
Check out these views though…
…and if the journey UPWARDS was a stretch, coming down felt worse! Still, I did it! 😁 and I stayed smug for the rest of the day!
We had a further wander, soaking up even more of the ancient sights before Jeremy took us into the NEW old part, inside the city walls. What a change! Gone was anything that resembled ‘ancient’, replaced by shiny-new(ish) western-style shops and restaurants.
I got the impression that our Guide, Jeremy, wasn’t overly impressed with all the newness that had clearly replaced the historic architecture.
We did spot one alleyway though that seemed to have retained its old-world charm!
Next stop was Lunch! And has things turned out, this was the most delicious and comprehensive so far! Mushroom Soup, Rice, Sweet & Sour Chicken, Sizzling Beef, Sauted Potatoes, Green Beans and to finish, Satsumas.. but with a green skin – the dishes just kept on comng, so we just kept on eating! 🤐
Luckily there was now a perfect opportunity to walk some of this off…
Without any doubt whatsoever, the surprise highlight of the day (for me anyway) was the walk round the lake. So many sights to see! I pretty-much exhausted the camera battery just in this area. BEAUTIFUL!!!
We’d been lucky with the weather so far, in that it had stayed dry up until our final hour walking round the lake. Within 15 minutes, it turned heavy and so we called it a day and hurredly took the 10 minute walk back to the Hotel carefully avoiding the ‘wild-life’ on sale…
It’s a busy one tomorrow! Deep breath: We’re on a boat-trip down the River Li to Yangshuo; wandering through paddie fields; visiting a local farmer’s house and taking a look at a traditional village – and then shifting to a different hotel. And, in a change to the advertised programme 😁, Jeremy has also booked us tickets for the theatre (the difference being that the stage is in the water!)
With everything that’s going on, they’ll be NO POSTING TOMORROW (There’s no time to write it!) Hopefully, see you (virtually) the day after – Saturday, 19th – Day 13 – when we’ve ‘popped along’ to Shanghai 😏
More photos (and none of my chat!) HERE