China

Guilin Day 1

27 Oct , 2016  

I’ve stolen mum’s phone for a few days. Re-learning how to function an iPhone is not ideal, but travelling and seeing wonderful places without being able to save the memories with photos is an unbearable thought. Today is the first proper day of our 4 day (shopping) tour of Guilin, China.

First activity of the day was rice terraces. Didn’t understand any of what the tour guide said in the bus on our way there and by the time we arrived, no one could be bothered remembering any of it, so no translations for us. Well, at least I know I’m somewhere in China. Apparently the rice terraces were up a mountain, so we could either walk (40 mins in the hot sun) or take a cable car, but we had to decide as a whole group. Obviously, the cable car option won. After some time of fluffing around and being confused, we finally took the cable car up. Turns out, the cable car ride was around 30 mins up (pretty sure walking wasn’t even an option – probably would’ve taken days!). Note: don’t trust anything anyone says, even if 2 people supposedly hear the same thing. Had to keep reminding myself not to think about dodgy made-in-China products – I’m SURE this cable car is regularly checked and meets international safety requirements. Definitely. Just keep breathing and don’t look down. The view was amazing! 360 degree views rice terraces flowing down the sides of mountains. Pity they recently got harvested though. Just a few weeks ago they would have been even more amazing to see.

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We had about 45 mins at the top to fully take in the beautiful surroundings. A girl who had paid to dress up in a tradition costume asked to get a photo with me. Yep, after a morning of sweating in the hot sun, who wouldn’t want to be in a stranger’s photo? You’d think it’d be me, the regular dressed person, wanting to get a photo with the dressed up person instead, but no. And she had a sign with her that she was holding up in photos: [You Should Be Here]. I seriously wonder whether she knew what the sign meant since she didn’t seem to speak any english.
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Lunch was in a large soulless restaurant that clearly catered to large tour groups only. Food came out pretty much as soon as we sat down. On a scale of deliciousness, I’d describe it as edible. After lunch was our first obligatory shopping stop: Pearls. All I understood from the sales pitch was that they were selling pearls from Southern China. Oh, really? I would never have guessed. Overheard the explanation being given to an english speaking group that you can tell pearls are real by rubbing them together; if they produce a fine powder, they’re real. I think. Maybe. I had some flashbacks to last time we came to China on a family holiday in 2002. I clearly remember the sales lady convinced mum that me, as a pimply faced 13yo, needed some pearl earrings, and of course a matching necklace and ring.I still have those…somewhere. Tour guide was no where to be seen until some purchases had been made. As soon as someone had handed over some money, he suddenly appears. Weird how that happens.

I’m going to try find as many of the ridiculously translated china-signssignage as I can. I’ve already seen a few signs that you kind of know what they’re trying to say but it’s not quite right. ‘Carefully Slide’ seems to be a popular sign. its on lots of steps. I think the proper translation would be something like ‘Caution, slippery surface’, but carefully slide sounds much more fun! In our hotel room theres also ‘Bath Dew’ aka shower soap, and ‘Kindly Reminder: If you need to open the window, will you please put the curtains to among the window’ which I guess is trying to explain how to move the curtains to one side, even though the window doesn’t actually open.

Next stop was the silk shop. I personally don’t think silk is all that great; its slippery and too delicate. This time I remembered to bring my book in so I could sit at the back and tune out. I would have actually really liked to understand the presentation, he seemed to be a great speaker and very convincing because majority of the tour group came out with some kind of silk purchase. Even without understanding, you could hear the group collectively go ah and lean in a little further when he said something interesting. Now we own a new doona cover. One that i’ll probably never go near in fear of dirtying or ruining it in some way. Apparently silk helps you sleep better. Even though once you have a fitted sheet and top sheet you can’t even feel the silk. But you will sleep better. Trust him.

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