The train leaves the Hung Hom station at a slow pace. There is barely a sound as it moves through the concrete jungle. Are we in China yet? Country number 22 on our adventure. Looking out the window the infrastructure is impressive, to say the least. Highways under construction, apartment buildings, giant billboards, concrete blocks to be assembled into busy highways. Tall electrical masts, metal structures containing who knows what, communication towers, banks, monster-size malls, hotels, more high rises. It goes on and on.
We are on the first leg of our train journey to Guilin. First stop Guangzhou. A two-hour trip. I studied the map before we left and it pretty much meets expectations. It is almost one endless city. Guangzhou, the third-largest in China, is a monster of a city and I believe the population is approximately 11 million. The person who cleans the windows of the train must have had the day off. A thick layer of dust makes for a murky view. The landscape opens up and urban gardens jump out of nowhere turning into larger fields. Hundreds of apartment buildings again, each with about 50 floors. The construction cranes signal booming urban sprawl.
We arrive in Guangzhou East and do not have much time to spare. We line up for metro tickets and end up buying a day pass to avoid another long line up. A small investment bought us a bit of time. Man this place is busy. People everywhere. We find our way no problem as we take the metro to Guangzhou South where the high speed train awaits us.
Guangzhou to Guilin Train
Another huge train station. I think the largest we have ever seen and with great efficiency, the place is like an anthill. We grab lunch and a coffee and we are on our way again. Cruising speed is 242 km per hour and the scenery changes to fields, then rolling hills and mountain passes. Di won the scrabble game. Again. On our first evening in Guilin, we stroll along the Li River and take in the evening atmosphere. The trees along the river are strung by thousand of lights and create a magical experience. We are off to a good start.
Li River Cruise
For the first day in Guilin, we had booked a cruise on the Li River. Please check the following link to a separate blog post: Li River Cruise.
Where to Stay in Guilin
We have been staying at the wonderful Guilin Central Hostel. The staff here have been amazing and eager to go the extra mile and provide excellent customer service. Find them on Expedia. We paid CAD$ 40.00 per night. We relax in the morning atmosphere at the hostel with yogurt, muesli, and coffee. Everyone speaks English and the western music playlist in the lobby is carefully selected and much appreciated. The hostel owner has an eye for detail and we feel at ease.
Exploring in Guilin
We have one more day in Guilin and head out on foot to explore. The center is very touristy. Guilin is a popular destination, especially for the Chinese. At the night market and throughout the commercial districts, every trick in the book is used to lure customers in.
In order to avoid the lineup, when we head for Nanning on Thursday, we decided to go to the main train station to pick up our tickets. We only felt slightly guilty of our extended late afternoon break at Starbucks. Time for some blogging, a good coffee and a dose of familiarity.
The warmth of the afternoon heat is invigorating as we detour through a modern market constructed as a replica of the original town buildings. We walk back to the hostel along the Li River. The evening was spent at the hostel relaxing, planning and blogging. Wi-fi is not impossible but more so a challenge here in China. Amazing how we have come to rely on it for our every move.
Photo Gallery with Travel Photography from Guilin, China
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Diana & Morten