Guilin reminded us the most of Taiwan when we lived there. Just seeing the town, the many storefronts with wares, big bags of rice, people congregating and the many bicycles, "battery" scooters, and variety of street life. The only difference is that now there is a separate bicycle and scooter lane. Supposedly, the police can give you a ticket if you are driving a "battery" scooter in the main street lane. If you don't like the ticket, you can sit and watch a movie about good driving habits for 2 hours!! Also, you don't need a driver's license to ride a scooter. That takes months and about $1600!
Our main outing today was a four hour trip down the Li River--another beautiful scenic array of vistas, this time of irregularly shaped limestone peaks, many (again) that took on assigned imaginary shapes--Buddha, the 9 horses, bat hill and others. The boat was comfortable, air-conditioned and had a bathroom (even one red-seated western one) that made it very enjoyable.
After lunch on the boat at the end of our tour we walked through the end-of-the-line- village to some pretty old minivans for our optional tour this afternoon--a trip outside the city to see where the farmers worked. This was a real glimpse into the lifestyle of the 600 million Chinese who have not ben part of modernization. It brought back many memories of going "down-island" in Taiwan. In the olden days ):). going down-island meant travelling over very bumpy roads into the hinterlands, seeing farmers with water buffalos working the land, rice paddies, many kinds of growing vegetables, and in an old car with barely working air-conditioning in 96 or so degree weather--bingo! you've got it!
Although we were tired and cranky, the last stop was to see a "typical" house owned by an 95 year old lady who has been a widow since she was 32. The house had a main room where she dusted off some little benches and offered us peanuts and taro root, and several side rooms. One had her coffin at the ready (this is a typical custom), one was her bedroom where she showed us several pictures of other tourists that had come by. Evidently, she makes what little money she has by doing this. She has two children, but very sadly, her son does not visit or check on her at all, and her daughter gives her a little money but also does not really help her either.
We stayed awhile, took many pictures of her, and several cute children who lived next door. On the way back, we continued to see many rice paddies in all four stages of development ( see photos above).
We stumbled into the hotel for a much needed rest and shower, and then went down to the buffet there which was really quite amazing. Besides Chinese food, there was Indian, other Asian like Sichuan, fresh seafood, cooked oysters, and the best--a Hagan-dazs ice dream bar!!
Tomorrow we visit a tea factory and then then go onto Hong Kong, although there is much time wasted as our flight isn't until 4:30. Sadly, we also say goodbye to Hubert.