Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Rotten Day in Guilin

Day 9 (31st March 2011) 

One night at the Dragon Backbone Rice Terrace village of Xinzhai was enough. I saw the lady going off to work early, presumably to pick up more guests. This must be her normal routine.

After having my breakfast of bamboo rice (mixed with bits of mushroom, fried peanut and dried pork) at 8:30 a.m., I decided to leave.

I used the footpath through Dazhai Village to get to the parking area. Shortly after waiting at the parking area, a bus arrived at 9:00 a.m. It would leave at 9:30 a.m. My immediate destination was Heping, from where I would catch a bus to Guilin. The fare to Heping was RMB7.

Just after the ticket office is the junction of Heping. The actual Heping town was a short distant away. The bus stopped and the driver was kind enough to show me the direction of Guilin. Just as we were talking, and as at Chengyang, a bus was seen heading towards us and moving in the direction of Guilin. The driver said that would be the Guilin bus. I quickly disembarked and walked across the road to wave down the bus. I was off to Guilin at 10:30 a.m., with no waiting time spent at Heping.  The Dazhai bus was still there with the driver seeing me off. What a nice gesture. The fare was RMB9.

The bus terminated at the same bus station where I took the bus to Sanjiang, i.e. Qin Tan Bus Station, at 12 noon. Walking out from the station, there were tuk tuk touts and taxi touts and all other touts. I ignored them all and decided to wave down a taxi. The fare was RMB10 to Zhongsan Nan Lu to Guilin Train Station/ bus terminal. This time, I decided to check out another place to stay. From the first visit to Guilin, I knew there were a few hostels along Zhongsan South Road. This time, I checked into Happy Hotel, which offered RMB70/ night. Throughout this trip, I found this to be the most satisfactory place to put up for the night, even though the room was a little bit too small.

Since I have visited all the key spots on this trip, minor spots that I would be visiting while in Guilin would be the Elephant Hill Scenic Park, Jinjiang Prince Palaces and Mausoleum and Seven Star Park. I checked this out with the hostel receptionist and she tried to promote her tour packages to other places. I was not interested and was only keen to go to Elephant Hill Scenic Park that afternoon.  She said that she could arrange to get the entrance ticket to the Elephant Hill Scenic Park for RMB20 instead of the usual RMB40 through her tour guide. However, a service fee of RMB10 is required. I could join a tour group which would be leaving at 1:00 p.m. and on arrival at the park the tour guide would purchase the ticket for me for RMB20. It was such a sweet talk. After a quick lunch at an eatery behind the hostel, I was back before 1 p.m.

Shortly after 1 p.m., a car arrived, and not a tour bus or a van which I had expected. This was odd. There were the driver and the tour guide. While cruising along the road, my suspicion grew. The guide was babbling like any other tour guides. I was not hiring a tour guide and I was not keen to be guided. This would cost money, and certainly, more that RMB20. Something was wrong. I could not remember exactly what I did or said, but she kept on harping on visiting other places for a sum of which I could not remember. I was not interested and was adamant in going to Elephant Hill Scenic Park, which by now we have passed. The driver finally stopped the car. Angrily, I opened the door and walked away. I was not going to pay for this attempted scam. Those in the tourist business in Guilin are rotten to the core with their scams. Who could I trust? No one! I was determined to find my own way around and would approach the receptionist on my return to the hostel to demand an explanation.

With the help of passersby and my GPS, I found my way to Elephant Hill Scenic Area. I did not buy the entrance ticket as I was sure it was not worth it just to see the hill. I spent a short time outside the park and continued to walk without direction.

Soon, I saw the twin Pagoda. It was Shanhu Park. Again there was an entrance fee to go to the Pagoda. I could not be bothered with it and walk around the park, taking in the scenery.

Soon, my GPS told me that Zhongsan Zhong Lu (Zhongsan Middle Road) was ahead. I walked over to the road and there was a department store there. Outside, there was a stall selling fast food. I bought three sticks of skewered food.

After allowing for my aching foot to rest for a while, I attempted to walk back to the hostel, knowing that Zhongsan Middle Road and Zhongsan South Road forms one continuous road. However, I made a wrong turn and was lost. With aching foot, I decided to take the easy way of taking a taxi back. I asked how much, and the lady driver said that she would use the meter. At the stop where I got out, the meter showed RMB8++. On giving her RMB10, and expecting her only to give me a change of RMB1, she said that she was charging RMB1 for the petrol. What the fuck! It was only RMB1 and I could afford it. The Guilin people in this tourist industry are really rotten and have no morals.

On entering the hostel, the receptionist quickly babbled an apology and tried to explain things. I could not catch all that she was saying. She returned my RMB10 and I decided to let things end there.

What a day!

That evening, I strolled over to Xicheng Pedestrian Street. I mistook Xicheng for Zhengyang Pedestrian Street. Hence, I was quite surprised that Xicheng Pedestrian Street was not crowded with tourists.

After the cancellation of the Zhaoxing trip where I planned to stay for two nights and the single night stay instead of two at Xinzhai Village, I had three extra unplanned days. By this time, I had visited all the key spots on this holiday trip. I still had six days to go before my departure from China.


  1. Xicheng is like a dead street. Zhengyang is much more lively especially with the night market at night.

  2. I only realised that Zhengyang is another pedestrian street after I came back. By that time, it was obviously too late already.

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