Tea and blogging: a fantastic way to end the day! After a long day of cleaning the new apartment, it feels nice to sit back and reminisce about our trip to Guilin 🙂
After the cruise, our tour guide lead us into the town of Yangshuo, which is roughly 2 hours away from Guilin. The small town might not seem like much on the map, but it became a very popular destination for backpackers and tourists in the 1980s and has continued to be popular now. There are shops everywhere and we were warned by Emily before getting out of the van, that people would try to trick us into spending money on unauthentic products (silk, pearls etc…) and that we should bargain…HARD! This was great news to me, because Dave and I are a stellar bargaining team 🙂 I won’t go into details because we bought many Christmas presents along this street, but we got several items for as much as 75% less then their original asking price. Even Emily was impressed, and she’s all about the bargaining!!
After using the washrooms (or as the British like to say: the toilet) and getting some iced coffee at KFC, Emily lead us to the sleepy riverside where a bamboo raft awaited us. The relaxed scene that greeted us was a fantastic shift from the chaotic atmosphere in Yangshuo. Soon we found ourselves drifting down the river, enjoying Guangxi’s stunning scenery.
After enjoying some delicious barbecued fish and a quick bump down a small rapid, we head back to the shore where Emily was waiting for us. By this point she’d learned that we are more adventurous than her average tourists, but still, she was surprised we’d eaten the fish. She told me: “I’ve decided that I consider you both Chinese. 95% of my clients don’t eat the fish. I’m glad you enjoyed it!” (and we did…half way home I was still talking about haha!!!).
Emily dropped us off downtown and gave us a quick tour of the area, showing us how to get to the night market and giving us tips on where to find the best deals. We spent the rest of the night buying Christmas gifts, having our feet cleaned by fish (a strange experience, but oddly awesome!) and having a nice outdoor dinner by the market.
Emily’s job ended when we arrived back in Guilin, so the extra time she spent showing us around down town was truly above and beyond what she needed to do as our tour guide for the day. Most guides I’ve had in the past spend their time trying to get to you spend money shopping and telling you to book extra tours (they make commission if you spend money or buy anything at the market). Emily never once pushed us during either of our days with her, and for that alone she stands out to me as the best guide I’ve had. More importantly though, she was very friendly and open with us throughout the tour. We spent hours chatting together on the cruise and on our way to and from the sites she was taking us to see. She is incredibly thoughtful and even got us our favorite chocolates for the ride back (she knows I like chocolate with nuts in it, and that Dave likes anything that’s made of chocolate…). She and I exchanged WeChat IDs on the first day (that’s kind of like facebook in China) and have been in touch since our trip. The best text I received from her was a picture she took while at work: an English school in Guilin was hiring, and she wanted me to apply. I hope to live there one day so we can become better friends. She’s really a fantastic person and Dave and I were very fortunate to have her as our guide.
Stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll be writing about the Longshen Rice Terraces, The Sun and Moon pagodas and our last day in Guilin 🙂