27 Desember 2007

Guilin, winter 2007

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Wake up at 5.30 in the winter morning of Liuzhou city, still too dark and a little bit foggy, but thank God, not very cold. Just last night, the long and somewhat tough meeting ended smoothly with laugh and warm goodbye happy holiday from the auditee’s management. Still going on in my head, all the crazy work and never enough sleep for the past 4 weeks that finally ended. Time to forget about it. Today’s beautiful Saturday, and guess what….? We’re about to the journey (of three stooges in China), by visiting to one of “the most favorite tourist destination” in China, one of the most beautiful places in the world, Guilin.

Famous for its wonderful scenery, rivers and karst peaks covered in lush greenery, Guilin is one of the most beautiful places in China.” Guilin is situated along the Lijiang River. Though Guilin is very beautiful, many travelers simply pass here on the way to their true destination, Yangshuo. Yangshuo, 83 kilometers along Lijiang River, is settled amongst the most beautiful part of the Lijiang River's karst scenery.” Said one of the website promoting the place we’re just going to visit.

Still me, Darwin and Roy, with Karen Lim, our friend from the office, who is originally a Guilin girl, she surely know where to take us and will be a great tour guide.

Our first destination, off course, the famous Li Jiang river. This is why we have to wake up and start the journey so early. It took 2.5 hours from Liuzhou to Guilin, and by started at 6, hopefully we can catch the boat at 10 (last boat) after check in to the hotel. We stay one night at Guilin before taking off to Jakarta the next morning.

So, after check-in to this small but very nice and tidy hotel called Home-Inn (RMB 160 net per room per night), and having a delicious RMB 2.5 Guilin Mi Fen, we headed right away to the river and prepare to be mesmerized by the “sceneries that inspired many ancient Chinese poems and writings” and by the Yangshuo, the legend, that attracted so many tourists to come. We were keen to experience them, especially me, I’m dying wanted to go. Just last night at the phone, Karen said that we don’t have to wake up and go too early if we’re not going to Li Jiang river, she asked “do you know how much the boat for one person? RMB 200 – 300..” I reply, “I come this far to China, and only 2 hours away to see the beauty, even RMB 500, still I want to go…”. She asked me because last year, Roy didn’t want to go because of the price. For me, you hasn’t gone to Guilin if you’re not visiting Li Jiang river, especially when money is your only consideration.

Arrived at Li Jiang river port, we’re very disappointed to find out that what we’re afraid of is coming true. Someone back in the office has told us that the water level might be subsided during the winter time. It turned out to be true. Not wanting to waste our holiday in vain, we asked the driver to drive us directly to the end of the river, i.e. the “true destination”, Yangshuo. Although it said like that by the promotion, the true excitement is along the river, I believe, not the Yangshuo. Yangshou is just an old town, with houses like the myth, and small path to travel with bike. That’s what attract the tourist so much, especially the western, which for us, Asian, probably would be a bit boring, as the scene like that could be easily found in many of places Indonesia. So, when the driver suggest other river near Yangshuo, smaller river that can be cross with the small raft, we immediately agreed. On the way there, I text a message to my Natz at home, “…baby, it’s a destiny, that WE have to go to Li Jiang river together, maybe next year, or a year after, or after our ‘Kelly’ reached 5…” :_)

Yi Long river. This is really a tremendous view ahead. Clear water and the hills or shadow of the hills behind the thin layer of the clouds created by the winter. With a small raft of two seats, cost only RMB 55 per raft for about 1 hour crossing this small river. The raft is made by 10 big bamboo sticks tied together, with 2 twigged chairs tied on it, and a 5 meter long bamboo as the paddle. Here are some pictures taken there. Really worth the money. It turned out that this river has been a destination of the other tourists since Li Jiang river is running out of water.

After an hour, we get back to the place where we started. And going back to Guilin with the driver. Arrived at Guilin, the driver drop us to the street where we can find something to eat (already 2.30 PM), and he headed back to Liuzhou.

On the way to the Elephant Trunk Hill (by walk), we stop by for a small bowl of Guilin Mi Fan (again). Near the Elephant Hill, an A’i A’i asked Karen, whether we want a cheaper way to enjoy the hill. Instead of paying RMB 25/person to enter to the site, she offer us RMB 10/person ride by small boat to see not only the elephant trunk hill, but also a boat trip to the fish hill and finished at the other side of elephant trunk hill, where she said, a better view to take picture rather that from the side that paying RMB 25. So, we agreed, although we can not stand close to the ‘elephant trunk’, at least we have a beautiful picture taken from the right side. After all, is the picture that said it all, is the picture that more important than saying hey, I’ve been in the hill, but cannot took picture of the whole hill because I’m standing too close. Yeah, right…

Except for the cold wind created by the movement of the boat that makes not only my teeth trembled but also my bones and ribs, I have no complaint about this trip. Even the boat man asked for RMB 50 for 4 of us, I would still happily paid him. This is really something. The scene that usually seen only at the magazine, now it’s in front my own eyes, and a picture with me in it. Unfortunately, the hill is under some repairmen, you can see, there’s a green nets that really annoying and making the picture less dramatic.

At noon, we stop by in the Moon and Star Pagoda. There’s also a night cruise cost RMB 149 per person to across 2 river and 4 bridges. But tonight, the ticket girl said, due to Li Jiang river is subsided, only RMB 139 per person. We already too tired for this one, besides, the price seems too high this time. Maybe next time, with my Natz, in summer he he.

After took a view pictures we decided to find our selves a good dinner. Puo guo, said Karen, Hot Pot in Chinese, and we all nod. In the cold weather like this, what could be better than hot pot.. hmmm yummy already…

Before arrive at the restaurant, we stop by at the souvenir market. Me and Darwin each bought 2 sets of postcard with Guilin/Li Jiang river pictures. Roy bought a pair of small and cute Chinese traditional clothes for his son that has just born a month ago. Many cute and somewhat cheap souvenir to buy here, like a painting that offered to me for RMB 900 that would certainly look nice hanging at my living room. But unfortunately, due to baggage full, I have to restrain my shopping appetite that gone a little bit wild these few days (after Bu Xing Jie at Guigang and Nanning, then Fei Er at Liuzhou and then this…).

At the cold night, the Puo guo is really an ultimate satisfied. After visiting the beautiful places, taking a lot of nice pictures at the great scene, and after long, tired but happy walking, a clay wok of hot and spicy soup of frog leg with sweet bamboo bud would be a great ending. Still seems not enough satisfied, Roy order another wok of spicy fish head with tofu. This one turned out, even better than frog… uhmmm yummy yummyyyy….

Going out from restaurant, with smell of frog and fish still adhere at our clothes, again, we walk to the hotel. It’s not a short distance work, it’s about 45 minutes walk. But in China, walking is always comfort, anywhere, people going by walk. Even at night, a girl can walk alone and still feel safe. In here, is conditioned to be comfort for walker. A side walk dedicated for people to walk and separated from the cars and bus. This is a something you cannot find in Indonesia, in Jakarta precisely. No wonder, I’m very seldom to walk in Jakarta, not because I’m lazy, all other people also not walk, are they all lazy? No, it’s the city that very not being friendly for people to walk.

On the way, we’re lucky to saw the waterfall show from one of the five star hotel in Guilin. The water fall from the top of the building to the pool below it. We were lucky because this show only half an hour every night, from 8.30 to 9 PM. This waterfall show is recorded in the Guinness book, said Karen. After that, we again, stop by at the Moon and Star Pagoda, to, again, took some pictures. Because noon and night scene is really different down here. The Pagodas is shinning brightly at night.

9 o’clock at night, we saying goodbye and thank you for Karen, we going back to hotel, and Karen going back to her home. After rest for a while at hotel, we decided to go out again since this is the very last night in Guilin and in China. A 20 minutes walk to the bazaar. Until nearly 11 o’clock we come back to hotel and get some rest. Tomorrow’s flight is 11 AM, and we must start from hotel at least 9.

That night, I stay awake until 12 (00.00) as the changing of the day to 16th December, is Natz’s birthday. Yes, is my baby’s birthday ! It’s really an ultimate end of the China journey, it’s my baby’s birthday, and I’m gonna be a present (= presence) for her :_) After a whole month fasting from making love, it’s gonna be a great present for me too… (blushing face).

The next morning, wake up in a miserably cold. Probably the coldest during my stay in China. They said, in Jan and Feb, would be even colder. Thank God, I’m coming home, to the warm tropic island :_) After a Guilin Mi Fan (again !) near the hotel, we ready to go. From Guilin to Guangzhou approximately 1 hour. Lunch at Guangzhou airport (buffet for RMB 68 per person – great lunch). Flight from Guangzhou at 3 PM by Garuda. Arrived at Jakarta at 7.40 PM, out the airport about 8.30 (taking baggage took too long time, nearly get mad). And there she were… my baby picking me up. First hug and kiss to the birthday girl, and stop by to eat ‘pempek’ that I’d really miss. Arrived at home late at Sunday night and guess what..? Tomorrow still need to go to work ! Conclusion: Guilin is great, but tomorrow have to work?? Sucks !!

I sleep like a baby that night. And waking up in the morning, exited for the sharing of souvenir (2008 Olympic mascots – FUYA – Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni) and photos and all the ‘three stooges adventure in China’ story to friends at office. See what’s next ‘three stooges story’ to come :_)

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