So off I go, being all independent, spending a night in Shanghai then a flight out to Guilin and yes it is awesome. The Karst formations are simply stunning. There was a cave which was the spit of Durdle Door, but it is called Elephant Trunk Hill as the image suggests!
So I met for dinner with my friend on the first evening who broke the news that he would have to work for most of my stay. So he suggested I go up to Longsheng – he would pay for the entry attractions, the bus there and a hotel. Which was very kind! Now Guilin is a small city in China, Longsheng is a small town. In the area there are world famous rice terraces and a hot spring.
So I get on the bus, and yes, I am the only non-Chinese. many of them wanting to practise their English. I sat next to a lovely man called Harry, about my age. Anyway we got talking. First stop was the hot springs. Now there was a key word missing from the beginning. VERY. Firstly I had no swimming attire and I didn’t realise the hot springs were for bathing – I just thought it was a park of geysers type thing. Fortunately there was a place selling swimming shorts at the entrance. Difficulty number 1. Getting the right size. Now when I came to China I was 92 kg, to date I am just under 86 and so my usual guessing of size was way off! anyway I got a pair that and they fitted!
Got into the hot springs area and guess what – I looked like a white gorilla compared to everyone else! One person was so busy watching me, she actually fell into the pool!
The LongSheng Hot Springs are made up of a selection of outside pools of varying degrees (no pun intended) of temperatures. I realised that much past 40°C was way too hot. One of the pools was 50°C. Many people who went in, came out quickly looking like lobsters!
Harry was sticking to me like glue asking lots of questions and keen to practice his English (he clearly did pick the wrong guy!). He works in Guilin but his family is from a small village just north of LongSheng and during his two-day visit he planned to see them.
This is where it got interesting.
He invited me back to his family home. Now, I don’t usually take risks, but this was an interesting opportunity and he was nice so I said yes (Alison now horrified at this bit). We took a taxi about 40 minutes away 6RMB for the first 2km then 1.2RMB thereafter – BARGAIN.
The house was a traditional Chinese wooden house and was amazing! Many pictures of Chairman Mao adorned the walls. I was introduced to the mother and father, his wife and his sister. They were so happy to invite me in. They spoke no English; but were excellent hosts. So the meal was a like a hot-pot thing. Chicken was the meat of the day. The kitchen had a huge low round table in it and we all sat on small squat stools – like being on camp. Now in the pot was literally a chicken. Everything. Cut up and served. There are bits of chicken that I ate that I probably wouldn’t given the choice, but it was quite tasty. In the kitchen was an open-pit fire and various dead things hanging and smoking above it. I was handed some meat with chilli and told it was beef. Dried beef, and yes it was from the hanging selection and yes it was absolutely delicious. Harry’s Dad was sitting next to me. His name sounded like he sneezed so didn’t catch it. He asked if I wanted a drink. Out came the rice wine. Harry was telling me it was homemade and about 20% proof. Actually it wasn’t too bad and after about the 4th or 5th glass, it really didn’t matter. Harry’s dad collects foreign bank notes (he had 6) and showed me one and said it was English – unfortunately it was Peruvian! Everyone did see the funny side. I suggested to Harry as a thank you I will get a £5 note sent to him. Harry thought his dad would be very happy and so Alison was duly asked to provide one on her return.
IF you didn’t think that was enough adventure, think again. Harry and I headed back to Longsheng to go to our hotel. Which we did and promptly went to
Now KTV is big here in China. And for those of you who know my musical tastes, KTV is not somewhere where I would expect to be. KTV is karaoke. As you can imagine, with missing an entire musical genre from my brain, I sucked. Bigtime. However they did like my croon of Michael Buble and Tom Jones. They were about the only ones in English. We were joined by Harry’s mates. The Mayor of the town; Mr Yang. A genuine nice guy and clearly someone who spends too much time in KTV. So eventually I roll into bed at 1am.
The next morning we are up to go to Longsheng rice terraces. These were constructed about 600 years ago. They are called the LongJi Terraces which means dragons back as the fields look like the scales of a dragon.
It was a long drive up a VERY windy and narrow road. If you know how the Chinese drive, you can imagine how this would make you feel. We then had a 3km trek up steps. LOTS of steps to the terraces. They were truly awesome.
I am now back in Guilin ready for an early morning flight to Shanghai then home to Suzhou. It has been the most amazing 36 hours; and I am sure had my friend not been busy, I would not have seen this wonderful side of China, of Chinese life and Chinese hospitality.
I read this out loud to Martin’s father, as when I read this I was in the UK sitting in Stoke. I asked Martin to blog this, and he did. He hasn’t contributed since, but this is by far the most adventure he has had on his own ever!!! It has been nice to type it up. Now I must ask him his weight!
I have one more blog to type up… my parents first visit to China – the blog my Mum wrote before I moved to WordPress.