Guilin is a huge city of 5 million people and one of China’s most popular tourist destinations. Yet no one in the West has really heard of it. After a couple of weeks in Hong Kong, S. and me decided to book a 20 hour train ride from Shenzhen to Guilin and explore Mainland China from there. Shenzhen is another major city with a population of 7 million. Chinese dimensions and the sheer size of everything never failed to amaze me throughout my entire trip. You just don’t get used to it.
Our charming little Soft Sleeper carriage. It really wasn’t too bad – I had experienced worse in India. After the first hour or so, we even dared touch the pillows and got quite comfortable in front of a movie with our packed lunches. Somehow our two male fellow travellers were scared off by English speaking white girls and did not return until our arrival in Guilin 22 hours later.
7 am, Guilin. We made it. You have no idea how much of a challenge it can be to get off the right stop. Luckily, S. is a little pro in Mandarin. In China you will find hardly anything written in English. About an hour later, we checked in at our hostel, dumped our bags and hopped on a bus that would take us to Yangshuo.
Li river sidles through the beautiful valleys of the karst mountains. The area is known for its amazing landscape, so clearly we were not alone. It’s big in Chinese tourism, but I only spotted two or three other proper foreigners. Compared to my experiences from South-East Asia (which is being flooded by Europeans at the moment), I was surprised by how little Western tourists I saw. Whether we went to Shanghai or a little mountain village – it was always full of tourists, but mainly Chinese.
On a rainy afternoon, we thought it’d be funny to have a Chinese cinema experience. It was weird. China is weird. I keep going back and forth whether I like it or not, but it certainly is fascinating. Even the simplest things like cinemas, McDonald’s, supermarkets or (trying to) sit in a park become completely outlandish.
Call me a weirdo but I find foreign supermarkets exciting. Like everything else in China, supermarkets are also out of all proportion. You feel like you’re in a video game walking up and down the corridors.
I had many photos taken with strangers throughout the trip, but this little series is by far my favourite. Chinese people don’t shy away from anything and can generally be quite rude. And they certainly don’t refrain from posing with you.