Day 5 (27th March 2011)
I was out on the street before 8 a.m. to explore Binjiang Road again, to the part which I did not go earlier. There was a long sheltered stretch at the end of the road, probably planned for the tourism industry. With the Lijiang right beside it, Binjiang Road is a good place to look for accommodation for vacationers who appreciate the scenery of the Lijiang.
After the Binjiang Road exploration, it was off to Banyan Tree. The route to the Banyan Tree Park is 100% on paved road. Most of the attractions of Yangshuo lie along this route, such as Ancient Totem Path (whatever that was), Assembly Dragon Cave, Butterfly Spring (cave?), Gongnong Bridge, Big Banyan Tree, Moon Hill, etc. It was an easy ride.
There were so many vacationers on bicycles, including those led by tour guides. It was just one long road with no turns so getting lost was almost impossible. The view along the route was very scenic, and when I was there, the flowers from the Yew Chai (whatever its English name is of this leafy vegetable) was blooming.
The entrance fee to Banyan Tree Park was RMB20. However, on reaching there, I was approached by a tout who said she could get it for RMB15. I doubted her, thinking that she would be selling me used ticket. In order to convince me, she bought the ticket with her own money first under my wary eyes, and I paid her after I had gone through the entrance. How did she make her money?
As at all the other tourist attractions along this route, the area was crowded with young Chinese tourists. There was a long line of coaches parked outside the road, obviously bringing in the tourists in packaged tours. They were more interested in taking photographs of themselves than the poor Banyan Tree, which seemed to be ignored by the majority of the Chinese tourists.
That afternoon, I would be going to Guilin for a night before departing the next morning for my next destination to Sanjiang, enroute to Chengyang Bridge. The fare for the public bus from Yangshuo to Guilin was RMB15, with no ticket issued.
The Yangshuo-Guilin bus terminated at a bus terminal right across the road in front of the Guilin Train Station/ bus terminal where I departed from on the first day. A hotel tout tried to sell me a room for RMB88 at a hotel there, but my intention was to stay close to the bus station where the Sanjiang bus would be based (which I leant later was called Qin Tan Bus Station). She said that Qin Tan Bus Station was far away and the bus ticket to get there was RMB7. She assured me that the Sanjiang bound bus would be passing through this area also and there was no need to stay near Qin Tan Bus Station. However, I ignored her, fearing another scam again.
After walking around a while at the Guilin Train Station/ bus terminal, I noticed ticketing booths selling bus tickets under the trees. At one of the booths, an elderly man manning the booth said he was selling tickets to Sanjiang, pointing to the bus schedule displayed at the front of the booth. He was friendly and helpful. He also said that the Sanjiang bound bus would pass through the area. I could buy the ticket from him the next morning. The bus would be departing at 8:30 a.m. and I should be at his booth by 8:00 a.m. to get the ticket.
Since that was the case, I decided to stay at a hotel nearby. He even offered to find the accommodation I needed, initially to a low-priced hostel at RMB40/ night but seeing it so dirty, I asked him to recommend another hotel. The second hotel was nearby and was also across the road from Guilin Train Station/ bus terminal too.
At this hotel, I asked for a room in the price range of RMB80. The receptionist replied that a room was available and after checking the room and returning to the reception, the price was RMB90. Umm! I sensed something amiss! Anyway, I agreed.