What better to start a long day than a dawn flight out of KLIA bound for Guilin Liangjiang International Airport.
Four hours after leaving KLIA, we arrive Guilin airport, hop onto a bus, and are soon staring at ‘Gui Lin’. These are the two Chinese characters we learn to recognise for future practical use.
From our 15th floor room, we gaze at modern China.
But beyond the city limit to the south, we can discern the karst landscape we come all this way for. It’s summer and the weather is hot and humid and misty.
We see more impressive stuff to the southeast.
And more to the northeast.
Looking eastwards, the karst looks like monstrous sentries guarding over the city of Guilin.
To the west, more limestone hills as the Guilin train station is forever a hive of activities. It sits on a major train line and from here, one can reach any major Chinese cities.
First things first, let sample some local goodies, such as these fresh, fat, juicy long-ans.
A local attraction, these soft candies are not really our cup of tea. We sample them because we see Chinese tourists buying loads of them.
But for a proper meal, we find this halal restaurant some 20min walk from our hotel, and in the sweltering heat, it’s no fun getting here. Located at Xicheng Rd, it’s fairly easy to spot - see this MAP.
Inside, the restaurant welcomes all Muslims, naturally.
We choose steamed fish, a local from the Li River which flows right through Guilin city. With its head looking a bit like our very own haruan, the white flesh is surprisingly tender and sweet for a river fish. Good start.
Along Middle Zhongshan Rd, these are the twin ‘Sun & Moon’ pagodas of Shan Hu, one of the two lakes in downtown Guilin.
We cross the serene Peach Blossom River, a tributary of the more famous Li River.
Upstream the Peach Blosson River, an old mosque is silhouetted by the setting sun.
Middle Zhongshan Rd marks the heart of downtown Guilin, and here a huge square lies. The green ‘billboard’ in the middle is actually a huge hi-tech LED screen.
At the corner of the square, we see a glass pyramid, which turns out to be the entrance to an equally huge underground bazaar, located right underneath this square. Somebody must have been smitten by the Louvre in Paris.
In the middle of the square, a large shrubbery dominates the scape.
After a long hot day, the lights come on as city folks flock to the square. It’s much cooler now but the marbles are still warm. It’s common to see Guilin menfolk exposing their bellies (pot or otherwise) to cool off, just like this bloke. It’s like a fashion statement. A pity the girls do not follow suit. In the background the huge LED screen shows basketballer Yao Ming selling insurance.
Pampered single kids mingle and play with spinning rotors. One soon lands on my head, and a child dashes over to apologise profusely. Yep, this square is a really, really pleasant spot after a hot summer day like today, to hang around; people-watching is my favourite pastime.
By now, Middle Zhongshan Rd is partially closed for the daily night market.
All 3 southbound lanes are shut every evening for this event - a Guilin icon.
I reckon the two rows of stalls are more than 1km long, hawking all sorts of interesting stuff. Every Guilin visitor should make time for this night market.
It’s getting late, so we decide to walk back to our hotel, some 2km away. A tourist group is still active at Rong Hu, the other Guilin lake.
Seems this floating glass pavilion is the star attraction.
On the Pearl Blossom River bridge, colourful neons dance in the water, while patrons enjoy dinner at a riverside restaurant.
It’s still a warm evening, and people are playing at/in the Pearl Blossom River. Soon we are back in our cool comfy hotel room. Tomorrow we are going to cruise down the Li River to Yangshuo, so an early night is in order. Been a great day so far!
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