We all slept well and waking up naturally at 7.45 was definitely preferable to the alarm. By the time we have had a wash and Simon, Ali and Maisie have had their noodles for breakfast we only have another hour or so to go. It has actually been a restful enough way to travel and I feel quite refreshed and ready to see Guilin. The train arrives just ahead of time at 11.50 and we get a taxi to The Backstreet Hostel. It turns out to be a really good choice. Fairly quiet and in a great location close to the river and lots of shops, bars and restaurants.
The kids are busy checking out the DVD collection and we get talking to an English girl called Tracey. Her parents were both born in Hong Kong and she explains that she has been on a trip around China. Despite her Chinese heritage she has found China very difficult to travel through and has cut her time in China short to spend more time in Australia. She gives us some good advice on places to visit and the area in which to stay whilst in Hong Kong.
Its 7pm and I’m sat on the bed writing this. The kids wanted to watch a film but I felt that they have spent too much time recently watching DVD’s and so Ali is practising his guitar instead and Maisie is writing a story. We spent an hour doing maths this afternoon. Maisie and I concentrated on rounding up numbers and how to use a calculator. I’m not sure what Simon and Ali did but it seemed to end in the usual row anyway. We went out for some food and despite the surly service the duck, fried broad beans and rice was very good. On the way back we saw a sushi bar. I’m sure we’ll try that over the next few days.
The main reason for visiting Guilin is for the awesome scenery. We have seen lots of pictures of the huge karst limestone cliffs and they look amazing. After our week of racing through China I feel like we need a bit of relaxation time before we head off to Hong Kong in a weeks time.
10pm -just got in from sushi bar. It was excellent and very cheap our bill came to Y120
(8 quid). We stopped off on the way back at a shop and bought some beer and a bottle of red wine. The lady in the shop was explaining China’s one child policy to us. In the countryside it is ok to have 2 kids providing the first is a girl. Although many people have more they don’t register them which means they don’t get an education. In the cities if you have more than one child you have to pay the government for the privilege. She explained the cost to her family for her second child is the equivalent of 20,000 pounds.
It is completely different again here in Guilin. We are staying very close to the market area and the pedestrianised road makes a welcome change from the huge highways that run through the centres of most Chinese cities. The streets are lined with trees and Guilin certainly is a prettier place than the northern cities we visited.
Sat in bed drinking wine, we want to make some plans for the next few days but not rushing anything, feeling tired after travelling and looking forward to spending a night in a bed. We put the aircon on; we’ve gone from air con to electric blanket and back to aircon in 3 days. I guess that just emphasises the huge diversity that is China and I hardly feel we have scratched the surface.