Guilin and Yangshuo are two very famous places. I think who haven’t been there is not a proper Chinese. And according the amount of Chinese tourists I think I am not the only one have this opinion. Popular for its limestone hills landscape Guilin supposed to be one of the most beautiful places in China. But once I started planing this trip I found very little information about some real natural way how to explore this charming place…
PLAN THE HIKE
No hiking trails founded. Grrrr damn! Well we will create our own. We want to see and experience the local famous scenery on our own skin. Xianggong mountain looked as an ideal destination. Located near the XingPing village in the middle of the fields. We rode a bicycle from FuLi village where we stayed to get there. It was about 17 kilometers.
XingPing village is another tourist spot so I wasn’t surprise to find crowds, crowds and for change crowds… Apparently there is another wharf where you can take some sort of cruise but we just needed to get to the other side of the river and hike towards the Xianggong mountain. There is million old ladies selling tours or offering to be your tour guide. I asked at least twenty of them how can we get to the other side of the river. Their answer was the same ”I will take you to the mountain, it is too far from here to walk, I will show you how to get there for this and this money”. For good sake I don’t need a tour guide I just need to know if there is a ferry going to the other side of the river. It must be as I saw houses and people there. But they refused to tell me! Finally some young girl told me where to find the ferry. It was small rusty ferry that charged 5 yuan per person. We got to the other side of the river and started our adventurous hike.
WHERE TO GO?
The truth is we didn’t have a map (as this is not a hiking trail so map of this area doesn’t exist). All we roughly knew was the direction. So we hiked. It was lovely, we were in the middle of nowhere. Just fields, forests and time to time some house with locals where I always asked if we have the right direction. It was more likely a rhetorical question because so far there was only one way so we didn’t have to be really worry if we are on the right way. But that supposed to change soon. We reached the first ‘intersection’ where there was one tiny path turning to the right. We decided to continue on the bigger path (as we later found out this tiny path was probably the one where we should have turned). More intersections appeared but no houses or locals to ask. GPS didn’t work. We were (sorry for this) fucked. We were in the middle of the rural area with nothing nearby. All the karst peaks look damn the same. We were thinking what to do. If we are on the wrong way where and when we will end up? But how can we find out where we are? Shall we rather go back? A minute later we heard a divine sound – motorbike! Some local guy with his wife came over to check their fields.
I asked them if we are on the right way towards the Xianggong mountain and of course we weren’t. But they were nice to us. The guy called his friend and in a 5 minutes there was another guy on the motorbike and for some small fee they took us to the mountain. It was still quite far away so we were glad they took us.
It took about 10-15 minutes to walk up the steps. But the views were stunning. The Li river was just under us curving in between the majestic limestone hills. Countless peaks around. All the effort we made to get there paid off. Paradise for photographers, paradise for naked eye! From the top of the mountain it seemed there is a wharf with bamboo rafts taking people back to Xingping and it seemed it won’t take long time to get there. It took another two hours… But the last bit of the way was through lovely local village where all the houses were made of stones and clay.
GOING BACK – ANOTHER PROBLEM!
When we got the wharf all the owners of the bamboo rafts seemed to be off work (it was late afternoon already). No one wanted to take us to XingPing or only for ridiculous money. We needed to get back to XingPing. We left there our bicycles. Suddenly we saw another rusty little ferry taking people from bank to bank. After disembark on the other side we hired a lady on a three wheeler to take us to XingPing. It was about 10-15 minutes ride and cost only 30 yuan. On this short ride I was praying to find our unsecured bicycles where we left them and because I was expecting the worst scenario – that the bikes won’t be there because somebody stole them – I slowly started to think what other problems are awaiting us. We will have to call the hotel and tell them that the bikes were stolen. They won’t get it for the first time. So we will try to explain it again then they will call somebody who can speak better English (manager maybe), he, if we will be lucky, will get it immediately and send a car for us. They will want us to pay for extra transport and for the stolen bikes. There will be a huge argument whose fault is it…etc. My upcoming nightmare was disturbed by the lady shouting ‘dao le dao le’ (arrived). She droped us at almost the same place where we left the bikes. I was afraid to turn my head and realize that my nightmare became truth. BUT THE BIKES WERE THERE WOO HOO! So we picked them up and headed another 17 kilometers back to FuLi.
It was a big day out. But definitely not boring. What is good in China – if you get lost people are always nice and trying to help. At least that’s my experience. Of course knowledge of Chinese language helps to sort a lot of situations like this. Xianggong mountain is definitely worth to visit but it is a bit confusing how to get there. Apparently you can hire a car with driver from Yangshuo that take you right to the mountain. Only information for hikers I found was go to the Xingping, take a bamboo raft that take you upstream to the other wharf (the one we saw from the top of the mountain) or hire the three wheeler and than use the ferry to get to the other side of the river and walk towards the mountain from there. The problem is that there are no signs and without a tour guide or better knowledge of the area you will easily get lost!
….BICYCLES MINI STORY
The bicycles we rode were provided by the hotel….
Me: ”We would like to borrow two bicycles for today”
Hotel staff: ”Of course. Here you are”
Me: ”We are going to XingPing and we want to leave the bikes there for some time. Do you have locks?”
Hotel staff: ”Sorry we don’t have locks”
Me: ”Well how can we secure the bikes?”
Hotel staff: started to think about it. Obviously no one hasn’t thought about the possibility that the unsecured bikes can be stolen… ”I will ask my colleague. Wait a minute.”
Colleague came: ”What is the problem?”
Me: ”No problem. We just want a locks so we can secured the bikes when we leave them in the town”.
Colleague: ”We don’t have locks”
Me: ”So how can we secure the bikes?”
Colleague: ”You want to leave the bikes somewhere?”
Colleague: started to think about it. Obviously we were the first guests to ask this question and obviously they didn’t have any instructions how to proceed in such a situation. And Chinese always follow the instructions. If there are any they become helpless. And this is not because they are not allow to make solution but simply because they don’t know how! If we really insisted to sort this situation before we left I think we were still there today.
So we took the bikes with the risk they can be stolen and just hoped they won’t be. And luckily they weren’t:-)
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