GUILIN

I go from Ping'an to Guilin by bus, early in the morning, through hills and rice fields:

As I have already seen several times in rural areas, the bus is not only used to transport people, but any type of goods as well:

When I travelled by bus in the Guizhou province I even saw a guy getting on the bus with a wooden plough, the last row of seats in the bus was just large enough to accomodate for it. The most unusual thing that I have seen on a bus, though, is a cloth bag, apparently quite heavy, carried by hand. Then you realize that the bag is moving and, by the time you figure out whether the movement is intrinsic in the bag or it comes from the holder, you hear a "grr..grr..gr.." sound coming from it. In short, it contains a small living pig.

As soon as I arrive to the Guilin bus station I try and make the ticket for the evening bus to Yangshuo, since I'll only pay a one-day visit to this town. Nobody seems to speak English, then I see a stand with the label "Tourist Information" and at least 4 employees. That's perfect! I go there and ask if they speak English, and all of them proudly answer that no, they do not speak English. What!? A tourist information desk with no English-speaking employees? They do not seem to care about my complaint and they just sit idle. Meanwhile a boy passes nearby, he understands I am in trouble and approaches me. He speaks English and, upon listening to my need, he comes with me to the ticket counter. He makes me the ticket, says me a friendly good-bye and leaves. One more time I realize that in China there are some people who speak English. However, those people whose job should require English knowledge do not speak it. So I wonder: which criteria do they use when hiring? How can they hire someone to provide touristic information, without English knowledge being a prerequisite? Similar experiences had already happened to me in Beijing, Xi'an and other places. Unfortunately I have been unable to find an answer to this question.

Guilin and the surrounding area are famous for the karst landscape, resulting from rock erosion. The subterranean drainage also creates caves. Guilin has the peculiarity of both being a large town with all the usual services and being in the middle of a landscape where peaks may suddenly appear out of nowhere:

I pass by a lake in the centre:

and I head to the "Seven Star Park", a park which contains some of those peaks (I'll leave it up to you to guess how many of them ). The town is more enjoyable than the average Chinese town; less noise, wide pavements, parks and gardens, more relaxed traffic. You may see naïve vehicles like this:

At the Liberation(?!) Bridge I try and take a bamboo raft like these:

to visit the well-known "Elephant Trunk". They explain to me that, due to the shallow water, the rafts can only go Northwards. Now, guess which direction is the Elephant Trunk? .

While I walk towards the park I run into a baker shop. So what? Where's the news? Well, it's the first I have seen since I am in China, even though I have been in many places.
That's because Chinese do not use bread, mostly replaced by rice and noodles. They do have buns (this may not be the right term though), but they are mostly sold by stalls on the street. In addition, I noted that Chinese do not share our passion for sweets and cakes. All together, it explains the lack of bakeries. But hey, this bakery in Guilin has all the bells and whistles. Needless to say, I don't miss the chance to increase the concentration of glucose in my blood .

The " Seven Star Park" is beautiful and relaxing. Here are the seven peaks inside the park seen from the river:

The most distinctive is "Camel Hill":

If you look carefully you'll figure out the reason for this name: the resemblance is impressive.

There is more to the Park than just peaks: the "Glory of China" square, a couple of caves, a zoo with Pandas and other animals, a temple. This funny animal catches my attention:

I made some research to find out that it is a species of camel (agreed, it didn't take much to figure it out...).The Qixia Temple marks the end of my visit:

Going back to the bus station I am just in time to see the sunset from the city centre: