Saturday May 14, 2016

When we left Hong Kong the other day and flew to the People’s Republic of China, we knew that China was big. Like VERY big. In fact, HUGE! Its history is huge … its landmass is huge … its population is huge … and most of its renowned attractions are huge. But, we chose to ignore all this hugeness and start SMALL! We took aim on GUILIN (pronounced Gway-leen) – a small city by Chinese standards of just 700,000 people, in the middle of the southern, semi-tropical province of Guangxi.

Why Guilin? Well, buried in abundant greenery … and shrouded in greyish mist … and surrounded by zillions of strange, pointy, weathered peaks … the place is simply GORGEOUS. Guilin was named after the fragrance of the osmanthus tree … its earliest recorded inhabitants lived in the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) … it is currently home to 12 ethnic minorities … and it’s no surprise that tourists in their droves have been beating a path to its door since China first opened its arms to the world.

Guided by the lovely Naomi, we began our Guilin tour by exploring a small cave filled with ancient Buddhist carvings … then clambering semi-energetically up Fubo Hill for a birds’-eye view of this riverside town (and a most-of-the-group photo) … then strolling through an astonishing bamboo factory where we discovered that, you-name-it, the Chinese are now making it out of bamboo-fibre and bamboo-charcoal. Following lunch, we went underground into Guilin’s Reed Flute Caves, famous for its stalagmites, stalactites and sculptures (created by nature over untold millennia, but colourfully back-lit by the Chinese much more recently) … and visited a hospital that specialises in Traditional Chinese Medicine, where we watched a couple of our men (think Guinea pigs!) get poked by acupuncture needles.

Last night we took to Guilin’s stunningly lit-up waterways – losing count of the bridges we floated under, ogling magnificent pagodas, and witnessing local cormorant fishermen as they put their faithful birds to work – before, finally, joining the happy crowds in Guilin’s town square and watching the Waterfall Hotel get its nightly drenching.

STILL TO COME: We’re off on a leisurely four-hour cruise down the Li River – passing photo-ops forever, boats galore, bamboo rafts, water buffaloes and those jutting, shark-tooth mountains – to the popular touristy town of Yangshuo. So don’t change channels …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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About John Cooney

John Cooney and his wife Robyn have enjoyed more than their fair share of travel. They hesitate to call themselves ‘experts’ – but they’ve grabbed every chance that’s come their way to explore new countries, cultures and customs. They’ve had the privilege (both on their own and as the leaders of numerous successful group-tours) to sample many stunning destinations: Europe, the UK, Singapore, Vanuatu, the USA, Israel, Egypt, Africa, Dubai, China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And their recent (and most pleasant) memories are of the places ancient-and-modern that border the Mediterranean. John and Robyn are at-home in airports, hotels, cruise ships, and the like … and they know how to make the most of a unique travel opportunity. Travel, they reckon, is an all-five-senses experience – a chance to see, feel, smell, hear and taste the world. And they’ve done it often enough to know for sure: sightseeing with a group of laid-back Kiwis is DOUBLE the fun – lots of laughs, great company, and memories that last forever!

4 thoughts on “GORGEOUSLY GUILIN …

  1. Hi guys. Pics are fabulous. Note to self: Join Cooneys in China sometime! Must admit John, I had to look up ‘cormorant’. New word to me! All well here. Busy week ahead: Robert’s 40th b/day on Wed, Ayla’s on Friday. Terribly exciting! Talk again soon. Love from The Berts. xx

  2. Hi Everyone – A message for Pam Strong to say we are following the blogs and love the magnificent photos!! Wish I was with you. What an exciting time. All good in Sydney, Peter driving to Gold Coast for a week. Take care, love Barb & Bec xx

  3. Hey there! A message for john and colleen smith. The pictures look amazing and i hope you two are having an awesome time. We are all missing you here, but the house is still standing haha ☺ I hope you enjoy the rest of your trip, cant wait to hear all about it. Love you, Courtney xxxx

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