We start our day with a boat tour through the four lakes of Guilin and a short way down the River Li. We are absolutely amazed by the many kilometres of groomed park shoreline. Not a speck of garbage to be seen anywhere. Not a leaf or blossom out of order. Lovely traditional buildings partially hidden in the shoreline trees. A modern well maintained city rising behind. We pass under numerous picturesque white bridges that have their undersides decorated with intricate friezes. Incredible. What a show piece. The shore pathway continues the entire length of the lakes chain and we see people strolling and exercising. Many are solitary or couples, others are in larger groups, uniformly performing the stylized movements of TiChi or other similar routines.
We haven’t a clue about the specifics of the various buildings and bridges we pass by and under as the guide is only speaking Chinese. We are clearly the only non Chinese on board. At one point we disembark and are led down to a lower level of the river past an enormous lock gate. The drop in elevation seems to be about 50 metres. The river below the locks is very shallow and several times we actually scrape bottom. Here the river is less gentrified. There are divers and swimmers collecting shells (fresh weather clams?) from the bottom. For eating presumably. There are men fishing from the shore and women washing their laundry. We, the tourists, are now firmly corralled inside. On deck picture taking being discouraged? We aren’t sure why we’re now required to be inside but attempts to escape back to the outer deck are foiled.
We’re a bit surprised when we dock again and discover this isn’t a round trip. I gaze in consternation at the Chinese ticket and realize the characters at one end of the arrow do indeed not match those at the other. Oops! Where the hell are we? I ask, pointing to the starting location on the ticket and someone points for us to go up to a large bridge, cross and walk down the river on the other side to find our start point. Dad is off taking pictures thinking we are just having a pause before proceeding back on the river. Imagine his surprise when I inform him we are walking back. He’s definitely not a fan of walking although he’s doing very well and not complaining!
So we do cross the bridge and walk in the direction indicated and we do get home safe and sound.
The walk back is very pleasant and there’s plenty of entertainment. We are now up on the embankment above the river and all along are various groups of people taking classical ball room dance lessons. Tango and Indian dance lessons are intermingled. There is one oldish fellow in a group of women doing an Indian dance class of clearly female moves. It’s nothing short of hilarious.
We return to yesterday’s breakfast spot for a very late brunch. The price is even lower today.
We spend the afternoon strolling around Rong Lake (I think I have that name right). It was so captivating from the boat we just had to see it again. We are not disappointed. We wind our way along the shore path in the dappled shade of trees, some of which are over 1000 years old (so the signs assure us). We pass by the ancient South Gate of some palace. I’m afraid we’re not sure of the significance but it’s very attractive and many people are posing for the inevitable selfies in front of it.
We cross floating bridges and explore a quaint island with a tea house. We dodge flailing selfie sticks and assure people who want to take our pictures of us with our cameras that we actually came to see the lovely sights. Seriously, I can see myself in the mirror should I so desire.
So are you detecting a note of frustration here? What is with this narcissistic selfies thing anyway? We watch so many people, in so many ridiculous poses, in front of so many lovely scenes – I really wonder if they notice what they aren’t looking at behind them while they photograph themselves and get in the way of everyone and everything. It is a fascinating phenomenon. Does this make any sense at all? Drives me crazy!
The afternoon becomes quite warm and our walk quite long so by the time we return to our Inn we have one thing on our minds. Can you guess? Yes – cold beers. These downed, Dad is now snoozing in preparation for dinner while I blog.
Thus ends another essentially perfect and busy day in Guilin.