Cruising down a windy road amongst huge karst limestone formations jutting out of the ground like stalagmites reaching hundreds of feet high. The bulging eyes of a chicken are staring straight at me as it is in an old lady’s iron-choke hold grip, possibly about to be cooked and served to me for my nightly meal, some of the best meals I am about to ever have. We are on our way to Xingping on a small, yet intimate bus. I will let the scenery speak for itself.
From Xi’an we hopped on a 元320 one-way flight (roughly $193) to the South China city of Guilin. Our fellow passengers provided great entertainment. They are proof that using cell phones during takeoff, en-route, and landing will not cause a crash. I have also never seen people crawl over other passengers so they can get a better look out the window, but it was fun to watch! Once we arrived in Guilin airport we caught the shuttle into the city for 元25, which was about 20 minutes away. Make sure you get off at the bus stop, otherwise you’ll end up in some random place in the city. From the bus stop we caught a 元30 non-express bus into Yangshuo.
Yangshuo had some pretty landscapes, but anything the town touched seemed to just ooze tourist trap in a real bad way. We rented bikes and rode out to Moon Hill which was very nice (and extremely humid), but after being pestered by super touts, we decided to head into Xingping for the remaining nights since we read it was nice and quite over there. Xingping was only a 元5.5 ride from Yangshuo bus station, which was a real bargain because it magically transported us back in time about 100 years.
Xingping was an entirely different world, a special place that I kind of feel guilty divulging such a gem to the Internet. The streets and buildings looked ancient, but they were very well kept. In the evening, there wasn’t a single car, truck, or motorcycle; about as tranquil as a town can get. We stayed at This Old Place youth hostel. If you are around in the evening, grab a beer and your camera and head to the upstairs deck for one of the most amazing sunsets you will ever see.
The owner was extremely nice, he even upgraded us for no reason after our first night. When it was raining, we spent time on the front porch facing the street sitting in rocking chairs, 55-200mm lens in hand watching the interesting passers by. For eats, head down one of the alleyway streets to This Old Place restaurant.. Try the sechuan beef in spicy oil… Some of the best and definitely the freshest food I have ever had. The Li River also happens to be a short walk down the street, although, I cannot recommend the raft cruises; slow, noisy, and loud. I would get a bike or hike along the banks instead for better views.
After Xingping, we ended up back in Guilin to catch a bus for the rice fields of Ping’an, but that is for another post.