A cozy train ride takes us to Nanning
11.08.2013 - 11.08.2013 95 °F
We knew that there was a lot of excitement that had been generated over the last few days and the girls needed some rest. They both slept through most of the outdoor show, which was a shame, and so we let Sandy know that we would start our last day's sightseeing in Guilin after lunch.
This was a wise move because they both slept till 9:30. We finally got downstairs for our "breakfast" at around 11, and just took time getting repacked for our night train to Nanning. We took the opportunity to have our breakfast by the side of the river that passes Moondance Boutique Resort. We want to thank Roland and his staff. I promised to put a nice review on Trip Advisor in the future. It was an extraordinary experience.
Sandy took us on a long car ride to the other touristy area of Guilin: Reed Flute Cave, Elephant Trunk Park, and Fubu Hill. The Reed Flute Cave reminded me of my first date with my sweet wife. We went to Meramec Caverns (Hey, it was January 2nd, nothing much was open, and it was warm for a January excursion. Neither of us had been, but we had both seen the billboards!) We left that experience almost convulsed with unintended laughter because of the schmaltzy light show. The Chinese have taste. Every main area is lit with muted colorful lights in a way to literally illuminate the formation before you. Think of it like the Chinese version of watching clouds go by and using your imagination as to what it portrays. It was delightful and awe-inspiring. It was also nice and cool. The days are usually in the mid to upper 90s and the humidity is near 100%. It's clear that we will need to be on our toes to stay well hydrated. Tap water is not potable for foreigners (who don't have a built up immunity to little critters in the water supply) so we are going to have to keep after our guides to help us find cold bottled water as we progress.
After the cave, we were asked if we would like to see how silk is made from cocoons or how pearls are recovered. We were prepared for this. In Korea, they asked us if we wanted to view a cloisonne factory. We took a pass. In China, our guides are often compensated by the government and tourism is a critical part of the economy now. We like Sandy a lot and we want to keep him in good stead with his "employer, so we said yes to the silk business. It was a soft-sell/hard sell (if you know what I mean) but we took a pass on most of the "suggestions" and let the girls pick out a couple of scarfs to meet our obligations. I looked at shirts, but the kind of silk shirts I like were not there. They were much more...uh...sheer.
Next up was a visit to the Elephant Trunk Park, so named because of a big elephant-shaped rock formation that looks like the elephant is drinking in the water. The heat wave and accompanying dry weather of late has led to a lower level for the river, and the locals joke that the elephant has drunk much of the water! Hey, that wasn't us, that's some of those locals! We get revenge by staying on the bridge. Don't believe me? The park was nice, but also full of hawkers who saw the foreigners come their way. One learns to be nice but firm unless you see something you want. I think I will be doing a lot of my souvenir hunting at the panda reserve in Chengdu.
Finally, we went by a statue of General Fubu of the Tan Dynasty. He looks like Chou Yung Fat should be portraying him by the looks of his statue. Meanwhile, Keith Too Fat was seen accompanied by Hayley Tu Hungry and Laurie So Happy. The hill in his name has 290 steps up to the top. After realizing what is within my current state of conditioning from the Infiltration Tunnel, I took my leave of the group at the mid-point pavilion and got lucky with this incredible panorama shot of the city you see here. It was worth the trip.
We then had dinner at a little restaurant that had "less adventuresome" food, called the Left Banke. No, there was no French cuisine, but we did get spaghetti bolognese, grilled ham and cheese, and open faced grilled cheese with bacon. It was necessary because it was a quick turn-around in order to get to the stage show with local talent in ethnic minority costumes. Acrobats, dance, even a pretend Yao wedding (the groom was recruited from the audience and all had fun with the joke). Again, we didn't understand much of it, though some songs had wonderful large screen projected background complete with english translations, but we didn't need that. We had front row seats (we paid the premium price) and a great time.
Finally, we decided that we were out of gas and asked to be taken to the train station early. Sandy was surprised but complied, and he stayed with us and even came on the train to help us find our "cozy" little cabin. The girls slept well, Bruce got some shut eye, and I failed to get comfortable, but nonetheless was comforted and rested by the wonderful experience of our time in Guilin.
Ok, Nanning, the bar has been set high!
Tomorrow, a day in Nanning, the Social Welfare Institute, and a nighttime dinner with Laurie's foster dad, family, and friends.