Saturday, January 02, 2016

Day Three of 8 Days 7 Nights Scenic Guilin + Longji Terraced Fields Tour Package (GUARANTEED No Shopping Stop) - Let The Impressive Sights Take Your Breath Away

Breakfast for me wasn't usually filled with anticipation but day three of the Guilin trip was different; i was looking forward to a local Zhaoqing delicacy, the 裹蒸粽.

Essentially a dumpling like the ones we see often during the dumpling festival, i had high hopes for this Guo Zhen Zhong (direct translation would be something like wrapped steamed dumplings).

One sentence summed it all; not worth the calories! The filling was just unsweetened bean paste with tiny pieces of meat. Maybe i should check out those from famous shops; even in Singapore, not all bak kut teh / chicken rice stalls are good.

With a dampened spirit, i had to make do with the polo bun which was quite alright; sweet and could have benefited from some sort of filling like char siew. :P

Leaving 半岛酒店 (Peninsular Hotel).

As usual, Shen Fei (the tour guide) started his daily summary on the things we would be doing that day and supplied interesting information on the cormorants, the development of the country under President Xi, wedding customs of the Yao minority tribe etc.

Toilet breaks at a petrol kiosk - self service lane that helps to cut down on manpower. I guess 95# refers to unleaded 95 petrol; what's 0# then??

Little villages dotting the landscape - many had extended upper levels which i presumed were modern developments to increase space.

Factory polluting the air. Reports on China's air quality reaching hazardous levels in some cities were getting to be quite the norm nowadays and i sure hope the central government can take a serious view on pollution; aside from affecting citizens' health, the booming tourism can also take a hit.

Unlike many people my age (and younger), i love travelling in China; its rich history, varied customs and cultures, the stunning natural scenery etc never fail to entice me every now and then.

Loving my seats at the back of the bus; the forty-seater bus was more than sufficient for the sixteen of us and i literally took over all the back seats so that i can move to the left or right depending on which side was blessed with better views.

I am normally on the right side but the above was taken on the left; couldn't resist the inconvenience (the bus was on a fast pace and i had to be equally fast to take the shot). 

The transportation of over twenty passenger vehicles on trailer trucks can appear to be unnerving; the higher centre of gravity means a bigger risk of toppling over! 

It's hard to pinpoint which province we were at (either Guangdong or Guangxi) even though there's a pretty easy way to judge; note the license plates on passenger cars! My bet was that we were already in Guangxi (license plates in Guangxi had a 桂 prefix).

Exited the expressway for a stopover for lunch! 

新粤桂酒店 - the non-air-conditioned restaurant that would not impress with its decor. However, the food served were good with a home-cooked feel to the dishes. 

As above for your viewing pleasure; there would be standard two bottles of beer and two bottles of soft drink on the table every meal, save for breakfast. 

An ox pulling a cart full of hay along the road - scenes you don't get to see in urbanised Singapore. 

Our next destination was still a few hours away and the tour guide started talking about one product that Guilin is famous for; luo han guo! I got a rough inkling this would likely lead to purchases and i was proven right! Whatever the case, i bought two packs as i do understand that tour guides need to supplement their income (no shopping stops itinerary would like dent their incomes) and Shen Fei wasn't pushy on making the sale. Furthermore, the vacuum packs of Luo Han Guo were really convenient! To read more, click here

Changes in the landscape as we moved deeper into Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region; it's like a moving Chinese painting gallery where the images switched from one painting to another. 

Toilet breaks again at a petrol kiosk. 

Many of us had noticed the persimmon plantations and the many trays of persimmons left out to dry; hence, when there was a plantation right across the petrol kiosk, we strayed across! 

Dad has a thing with his pictures taken next to motor vehicles; he does it to our Toyota Vios, he did it with our old Toyota Corolla and he continues to do it with his work vehicles too. 

We always draw reference to familiarity especially on first look; be it a person, a cloud or in our case, the numerous karst formations and mountains. This one appeared to be a lady praying at first.

From another angle, it changed to a lady who was singing, likely opera.

And in this angle, the lady had transformed into a man with a slight hunch. Our imagination would be tested in the next few days as quite a number of attractions were named due to their similarity to an object, an animal and even moon and stars. 

On second look, i wonder if these were oxen or buffaloes. 

First official attraction stop at Guangxi - Xing Ping Ancient Town! The walk was short and i can't even term it as checking out the town as it served purely as a connection point to our main objective. 

Main objective - taking the cruise along the Li River for the said-to-be-the best view of the world renowned Guilin scenery (桂林山水)! Want to be stunned by their beauty? Click here

I would be delighted to stay a night at Xing Ping Ancient Town so that i can do an in-depth exploration of the surrounding. Pity i was on a package and with China being so large with plenty to explore, i might not likely be back until decades later. 

On the road again.

Quaint tiled cottage - traditional dwelling spotted although from the look of it, it's not an abode i can live in with dirt flooring and small windows that disallowed light from passing through. Alas the fate of a modern man; doubt i can survive if you throw me into the countryside. 

Horses on the road - in the Chinese language, road is commonly said as 马路 (translated as horse road). Rightfully, the roads belong to the horses! 

In less than forty minutes, we arrived at the town where we should stay for the next two nights; Yangshuo. There is a Chinese saying; 桂林山水甲天下, 阳朔山水甲桂林 which means Guilin scenery is the best of the world yet plays second fiddle to the scenery of Yangshuo. 

Riding without helmets seemed to be a norm in this part of China! Most of the motorcycles were electric-powered; although less harmful to the environment, you couldn't hear them until they are next to you! 

碧玉国际大酒店 - dinnertime!

Having been to China a few times via the tour package mode, i was taught something new in my recent trip - rinsing our cutlery, bowl and plates with the hot tea before each meal.

Our ten-course dinner, excluding fruits and desserts. 

I took an immediate liking to the osmanthus mochi; with sweet black sesame filling that oozed out hot and juicy, it had that noticeable osmanthus fragrance that made you crave for more! 

You might have counted only nine dishes from the photos i have attached as the waitress served us a plate of vegetables after we were done with the fruits and desserts! Poor her got a earful from the supervisor....

Attending a performance right after dinner - Impression Liu Sanjie (印象刘三姐) was an optional item on our tour package and i was a bit hesitant to pay for it as both my sister and mom gave a bad-bad review! Was it seriously that bad? You may check out my verdict here

万丽花园酒店 - our stay for two days. I shall show you more pictures on day four. For those who couldn't wait for that post, the hotel has an advantage of proximity to West Street and there was a huge supermarket next door! 

After a much needed shower, we stepped out of the hotel and crossed the pedestrian bridge. Did you see that lighted pavilion on top of a hill somewhere centre-right of the photo? We made a mental note to check it out if we were to have ample time the next day.

In the meantime, let's just explore West Street! You may click here for the posting which was for photos taken at night. There's a day version but i would need some time to tidy up the pictures! 


For the itinerary of the tour package (guaranteed no shopping stops) to Guilin via Chan Brothers, please check out the link here.

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