Last Day in Guilin

Day 3 – 8th January 2009, Friday

We would be making our way back to Guilin town today. Breakfast this morning consist of soya milk, yao char kuai, fried noodles and dumplings, the usual. How I miss nasi lemak! It was still very cold that Friday morning. It’s amusing to see the people in Yangshuo making fires along the roads with a few of them huddled together over the fire burning from sticks and plank of woods!

View at Shangri-La

After breakfast, we went to a place they called Shangri-La. It’s a place where we get to see people from all tribes in Guilin in their “natural” habitat. I still feel it’s man made and very, very fake. However, some of the places looked quite nice, especially the withered trees in winter.

Some tribe sitting around a fire with jakun tourists looked on

Here, they have all kinds of activities for tourists to participate in. We also get to sample their native plum wine. Both May and I missed the drinks because we bypassed a sea of people drinking more than a cup. They have sale of all things embroidery – from a picture to small little balls, clothes and little knick knacks. The colorful embroidery were very much welcomed as they added vibrancy and life to the otherwise pale winter.

Nice embroidery

After that, we went to have our feet massage at Bao Shu Tang. That’s where we could get the famous Bai Fu Ling ointment at 250 renmenbi. My mom swore by this. She said it’s good for her aching joints and muscles, so I bought another tub for her. During the feet massage, the curious interns from Hainan Island asked if we had been to Yangshuo. We said we did. The two boys requested to see some pictures. So May showed them her video. It was kinda sad as these children haven’t been anywhere in China apart from their hometowns and now, in Guilin to work. Times are hard and these people work extra hard. That’s why TIME Magazine honored the Chinese workers in their “People of the Year” award.

We were famished by the time the foot massage finished. After lunch, we went to Fubo Hill. It was a well manicured garden with a small pagoda perched on top of a rocky mountain. Under the rocky mountain, there is a cave with inscriptions. There were also carvings of holy Buddha figurines in the cave that, the guide told us not to take pictures. I didn’t want to risk it so I didn’t.

A Garden in Fubo Hill

To my surprise, they even have a shop in the garden; the jade shop. The owner claimed that he had made a lot of money that day and told us, he said he would not talk about business and claimed that he’s from Melaka, studied in the US since he was 7 and graduated from MIT. From the way he spoke, I don’t think he’s telling the truth. He pronounced “glass” as “grass”. Hahahah! However, everyone was sold by his charm and most of us bought some horoscope jade as “amulet” as protection. Ladies are such suckers for charming personality!

By the end of the visit to the jade shop, most of the people in the group were somewhat pissed with the amount of time spent at designated shops. We missed some of the important landmarks within the compound such as the statue of goddess of mercy on top of the cave. The Klangites were furious and wanted to file a complaint against the tour guide for time mismanagement. I guess they didn’t realize that most trips to China are considerably cheap as the hotels and food have been subsidized by these novelty shops and it’s the tour guide’s duty to ensure that, all these shops which sponsored the trip are visited for at least an hour each!

It was then, I received 2 smses from home. It’s sad to know the state Malaysia is in right now. High court’s decision is no longer respected and acts of barbaric terrorism took place. The smses acted as an ice breaker. Most of us who didn’t really speak to each other throughout the trip began to give their two cents worth. I dreaded Guilin’s weather. I dreaded going home  even more now to a place where hooligans’ rule. God save Malaysia. I can’t wait for the next election! Please people! Get registered! Change your address if you are not voting from home unless you prefer to fly back to respective hometowns to vote! Stop complaining things are not done right when you don’t even bother to vote at the first place!

Night view of the pagoda around Banyan & Cedar Lake

After dinner, we were off to Zhenyang street, where the flea market is. Here, you could get all sorts of things. I think it’s a great place to shop for winter apparels. Everything was somewhat cheap but you could still bargain it up to your preferred price. I wished that we could have more time to buy things.

Before going back to the hotel, the tour guide took us around the Banyan & Cedar Lake again to get the night view. It was rather breath taking. However, the weather was too cold that the four of us decided to stay put in the bus and enjoyed the night view from the bus!

Cutest shot

This concludes my very short trip to Guilin. I guess it would be better if we could get around Guilin on our own and spend more time admiring the beauty of this place, rather than spending time at those novelty shops with a bunch of loud hooligans. Also, the tour guide is a dumb prick for  rudely waking us up and expect us to get down the bus within 30 seconds after we stirred from our sleep. My eyes couldn’t even adjust before I clumsily walked down the bus!

Perhaps, it’s better to visit this place during spring! The winter in January was too cold for me that it even dampens my mood to shop!

For more pictures, please check it out here.

PS. We met this cute little girl on our way back to Kuala Lumpur. The mother was such a dumbass for not buying a seat and almost ended sitting in between May and I before I glared at the air stewardess to let the mom and daughter to sit in front of us. There were like 30 empty seats in front of us and Air Asia had to slot two of them in between us!

Also, the Klang hooligans tried to make themselves comfortable by sitting on the hot seats in front without paying and totally ignored the announcement by the Chief Stewardess to follow the designated seats. Memang BTC! They eventually moved back because they were asked to buzz off. Haha! Apart from the annoying hooligans, the flight back on AK103, 9th January 2010 was a pleasant one . The Chief Stewardess is very attentive. When I ordered Ipoh White Coffee, she actually gave me an extra cup of water because she said, it’s too sweet and I might need to add water! Bravo to this Chief Stewardess!

Oh yeah.. I totally forgot to write about Mr Fuyong Tan. We gave him this nickname because during our meals, he asked for a menu to add on some dishes and we all thought he’s going to order something exotic.. since we are in Guilin…  but he ended ordering fuyong tan! LOL! Can’t blame him though as he has a sensitive stomach. Anyway, this Mr Fuyong Tan was in Guilin with his new bride for their honeymoon! I guess it’s best to have honey moon here since there’s nothing much to do at night. LOL!

Free Show

Day 2, 7th January 2010, Thursday

We were given 7 am morning call. Today, we would be making our way to Yangshou, the smaller town outside Guilin and stay there for a night. Breakfast consisted of stir fried kueh teow, some cold noodles, plain porridge, steamed potatos, dumplings, mini meat paos and yao char kuai. That’s about it. No egg, rice or lap cheong. Si beh sien!

Yangshuo is about an hour bus ride away from Guilin. I was about to fall asleep the moment I got on the bus as the tour guide was super boring! But, I tried to keep my eyes opened and it was worth it because there was beautiful landscape of rocky mountains along the way! Slowly lulled by the chilling wind, most of us slept in the bus.

We were rudely awakened by emergency brake. The driver stopped for a group of water buffaloes to cross the road. Since it’s about 30 minutes more before reaching our destination, we tried to catch some sleep again. It was then, 3 hooligans in the family group of 8, sitting behind me spoke at the top of their voices in Klang hokkien, with total disregard for other people. We learned about who she was going out with, who she’s fucking and then, ended with one bitch with very badly colored ah lian hair laughing hysterically like a bloody witch. May, Lil and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes.  Sibeh tulan! The witchy bitch then complained that, the tour guide didn’t do her job properly by talking throughout the journey to Yangshuo. I was very tempted to tell her, who needs the tour guide when we could listen to your bed stories? But I kept my mouth shut.

The moment we got off the bus at Yangshuo, we went to use the washroom. To our horror, the four toilet cubicles do not have doors!! The ladies were apprehensive to go but then, rather than holding our pee throughout the 30 minutes ride, we might as well go. We took turns to shield each other to avoid baring our asses. Everybody was amused. Macam free show!

Cruising on Li River

The cruise on the two rivers and four lakes was not very inspiring because the lakes and connected rivers were very small indeed. It looked like some big longkang only. Well, it’s because January is the driest month with the least rainfall. However, the water was clear and shallow.  I guess the view would be much better in spring. We sat on a bamboo made raft with roof. We were served cold tea and groundnuts. I didn’t touch the tea because it was too cold and the groundnuts didn’t look appetizing at all.

The fisherman and his birds.. LOL

Then, we were “entertained” by fish-catching show by the fishing birds. The bird’s neck was tied with a rope so that, as soon as the bird catches a fish, the fish would not be able to pass through its throat and the fisherman would harvest the fish. If the fishes caught were small, then the bird could eat the fish. It was somewhat an inhumane exploitation. I seriously hope that no one would sign up for this thing anymore even if it was indeed a dying “art”.

Actually, we didn’t plan to go to this place as we opted to watch only the “Impression of Liu San Jie” but then was told by KL’s travel agent that, this show is NO LONGER IN PRODUCTION. What a dumb fuck! It’s always there! Just that, usually the show is closed for a month during Chinese New Year as most performers would take the month off to return to their respective hometowns. So, the travel agent in KL is totally fucking irresponsible to tell me – no longer in production!! They could have told me to sign up for the package when we reached Guilin instead. If you want to know which travel agent I am talking about, please write to me. I don’t want to be sued for libel or defamation, even if they are such pricks and dumb fucks.

Colorful “Silver” Cave

Anyway, after the fish-catching show, we were hurried to go over to the Silver Cave for a look see. To me, it was not really impressive. It’s typical China’s way of trying too hard to impress tourists with their “natural wonder” further enhanced by artificial lighting in the cave. I’ve seen the similar thing in Halong Bay before, so I was not impressed. Further the cave is  so warm – about 20°C compared to the outside temperature of 2°C. So imagine how my camera “sweated” in both cold and hot area at the same time.

As soon as we were out from the cave, we were rushed to have dinner. The tour guide kept reminding us to eat faster as we were running out of time. In the first place, you should have cut short the visit to the cave, or maybe don’t force us to sign up for this nonsense. Then, she came by to our table as soon as we wanted to get a second helping and said, you have 3 minutes. I was fucking pissed having to gobble up the dinner and most of us ended eating half way – especially those slow eaters. Damn fucking tu kao lan!

Impression of Liu San Jie

We ran like mad to the bus and then, when they dropped us at the Impression of Liu San Jie’s area, we brisk walked in the rain to the show. The show already started when we reached our seats. It was a good thing that they provided us with plastic rain coats. Thank goodness I wore my long john that night. Otherwise, I would have frozen to death. Since it was raining, it’s very cumbersome to snap photos. I didn’t want to my camera to get wet! Anyway, it was quite an impressive show. Our jaws practically dropped and touched the ground! Haha! There were so many people performing on the lake, overlooking picturesque rocky mountains. They were skilled boat men and women. There were fires, lights, flowing cloth, full costumes, etc. It’s very “Zhang Yimou”-ish. Poise, grace and artsy-fartsy. We enjoyed it. The one hour show seemed to end too early. Never mind even when we were at the verge of hypothermia.

When we got back to the hotel, it was already almost 10.00 pm. Even though it rained and it was super cold, we took baths as we couldn’t stand not taking a shower entire day. We got out from the hotel around 10.45 pm to visit West Street and most shops were already closed. We ended having McDonald’s pork burgers! Perhaps it was a Malaysian thing. Haha.

Not so nice pork burger

When we got to McDonald’s, there is no pork listed on the menu so we asked the cashier. She took out a separate menu and showed us two value meals of the pork burger. I chose the pork burger with two fried chicken drumlets and orange juice. Then, both May and I went to find a seat.

Mana tau… we waited and waited and both Ah B and Lil were still stuck at the counter. May went over to check what was going on. The cashier keyed in ala carte prices for the burgers and she said she couldn’t cancel it. If we want the drumlets or chocolate pie, we had to buy it separately. This is so damn fucking stupid. They talked till the manager came out and he also insisted they cannot cancel the order. The thing is, it’s the cashier’s mistake and not ours. We specifically wanted 4 value meals and she ended keying in 4 pork burgers only. My gawd. Sometimes, I really don’t understand what is wrong with these people? Can’t even understand simple instruction.. Is our mandarin that bad meh?? Ah B is Chinese-ed mah!

Anyway, we went on ordering fries and drinks. We ended the night walking a short distance along West Street. Some of the pubs were also closed already and it was not even midnight! Since we were already tired with whole day of rushing up and down, we called it a night. Oh.. I forgot to mention the horror that, most (all!) hotels in Yangshuo do not have elevators.. so get ready to move your things up yourself!

Sleepy Guilin

Day 1 – 6 January 2010, Wednesday

I stayed over at Ah B’s house so we could get to the airport together and share the cab cost. After meeting up with May and Lil at 5.10 am, we proceeded to check in for our 6.40 am flight and had our coffee break.

Air Asia AK102 was on time much to our delight. When breakfast was served, the kanjiong air stewardess – whom I recognized from my trip to Bangkok last September bypassed us and didn’t give us our pre-booked meal. Sibehtulan! We were sitting on the sixth row and she just pushed the cart hurriedly right to aisle 15. I looked fucking stupid waving our boarding passes at her. May was very amused with my tulan-ed face.

After having our meals, the nasi goreng (with satay) tasted like overnight rice and I almost broke a tooth chewing, we slept. It was not a good sleep though as there was a guy sitting behind me, nicknamed Fuyong tan (stories later) sneezing repetitively and blowing his nose away.

Port where we embarked our boat for a cruise along Lijang River

We got down to a rather chilly weather. Before getting down the plane, we were advised to get back on the plane because there was no officer at the thermal scan and also, I think at the immigration counter, which was super ridiculous lah. Lucky for me, I had time to put on a jacket otherwise, I would be freezing to death.

The Elephant Trunk Hill

We were greeted by our tour guide, Ms Tan Li from Guilin. Gathering the group of 26 seemed like forever because everyone somewhat suffered from uncontrollable bladders that made them going to toilets a few times within the 20 minutes wait, we were set to go to our first stop – a cruise along Lijang River.

I love China!

We were quite excited with the cruise initially but then, when some inconsiderate people behaved anally by smoking in the boat, we were fucking pissed. Then, we went up to the boat deck for some fresh and freezing air. It was damn cold!! So, we had no choice but to go down to the hell hole of smoke and increased our risks of cancer.

Wolf-dog running along the river

Negativity aside, it was quite interesting to watch the inhabitants along Lijang River going about their daily activities unfazed by cruising boats of camera trigger-happy tourists. Most of the pictures were pale as the skies were in perpetual grey and dark shades due to winter. January is the coldest month in Guilin!

Daily activity

We also visited Banyan Lake & Cedar Lake and that’s where the famous twin pagodas that made were the backdrop of  Guilin’s landscape in tourism brochures. Here, the elderly danced, exercised with swords, doing qigong, played chess, etc to wile the day away. It’s really stress free for the elderly here.

Elderly chatting away the coldness

The twin pagodas – Gold & Silver towers

Then, we went to some silk shop. I think. I could hardly remember anything about this trip as most of the time; I closed my eyes the moment I got on the bus. Haha! Lil bought a silk quilt and the only one in the group buying silk! I think Suzhou probably has the best silk. Of course, followed by the tea factory, etc. You know. Those typical China tours packed with shopping, shopping and more shopping at selected places catered for gullible tourists like us. A note though, I think the pu er tea at Dr Tea is worth buying. You can get a box of 15 year old tea leaves cake for CNY200 – and bargain for other little freebies like Osmanthus Tea and Tian Qi leaves. We were told that, only unmarried girls are allowed to climb the tea tree to pluck leaves. So, in Yunnan province where most pu er tea trees are grown, the young ladies as young as 15 climb trees.

The plain meehoonquite ok tasting

Mee hoon is their main staple, other than rice. We were served meehoon on several meals. They could be cooked in soup or kon lou style. I bought a few packets home for my mom to cook for the family. I think I am going to eat the mee hoon later for Sunday lunch. Haha.

It was an exhausting first day. We went to watch Dream Like Lijang after dinner.  We were sort of “coerced” into buying this package together with the trip to visit a cave for CNY250. The tour guide said if we don’t go for the cave tour, we might be stuck in the bus doing nothing. I felt somewhat tulan about this but let it go. Since we were all there, we might as well use our time to the fullest and be cincai a bit lah.

At the Dream Like Lijang show, I think the acrobatic performers watched us instead as most of us were sleeping. I woke up only to clap whenever the crowd clapped. It was something that you usually watch on tv, so nothing surprising. Unless you haven’t been to China before, or maybe, totally no exposure on Chinese acrobatics; you might probably be impressed by this show.

We called it a night at Guilin Licheng Holiday Hotel. It was quite ok hotel. The only complaint is probably there is no bidet to wash your ass if you don’t feel like taking a shower in the cold weather. Haha!

A very cheap and nice supper!

We bought some instant noodles for supper. It cost only CNY3.50 (about RM1.75) for one big bowl compared to RM5 to RM6 back home!