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The Guilin/Yangshuo Weekend: Part 2

Xingping Ancient Town
Xingping Ancient Town

I found myself sleeping well at a bottom of a double deck bed at the hostel staff’s room in Yangshuo. We hurried the accommodations the day before, so we had to settle for that. I was now with Raymond, Ariel, a young Chinese couple, and another enthusiastic lady companion who appeared to spearhead the trip. Forgive me for not being so keen to remember names, and if that shaves a good load of my genuine gratefulness towards our little tour group, so be it.

The day started with a Li River tour cruise, where I didn’t get what I wished for: a front row seat on the raft I was in. I got to be with a group from the Guilin hostel where I knew no one, and half way down, the lady tour guide asked me to move rafts, not knowing the reason why I had to, but there wasn’t really any real interest to know. On that other raft I was still occupying a second row seat, but I was beside the tour guide, so yeah, I now had an advantage over the others, though an unexpected one. I asked how the cruise would be during the winter time (only few tourists take it), and she pointed at what the locals would refer to as horse’s heads on the mountain faces. I can’t decide if she was pretty. I’ll settle for amiable.

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The Guilin/Yangshuo Weekend: Part 1

Longji rice terraces
Longji rice terraces

Without referencing to the plane ticket, my email inbox, and a calendar, I would just say the decision to take a solo trip to Guilin went through because an officemate helped me book my flight online the night before my trip. I remember finding myself in an airline office just a few hours before that, retreating after finding out the rates were double than what I found on their website. I was just glad I was at the Pudong airport for domestic trips late Thursday afternoon, having left work early, though I wished I could’ve taken the train instead. See, I like trains. I went to Beijing, and I went to Xian on trains. The crammed, stressful haste of flying just couldn’t compare to the serenity of a train ride.

It was past midnight on a Friday when I was greeted at the hostel. My skin was feeling Guilin’s humidity, a sharp contrast from Shanghai’s current spring chill. I told the front-desk staff I wanted to be on the tour for the rice terraces the day after. I wasn’t sleepy at all. The excite, the minor thrill of this sudden decision for this short work vacation hasn’t sunk in completely yet.

Woke up next to an empty bed on a twin-bed room the day after. Blame in on Filipino paranoia, a slightly skewed sense of security and trust, that I find it hard to locate myself in a hostel dormitory with strangers; also, there’s being single, and not possessing the current luxury of like-minded friends. The room looked the same as it was shown online: rustic, with cute hand-drawn art. The toilet didn’t seem to stop filling its tank.

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Biking In and Around Shanghai

The break to the nine-month blogging hiatus is going to be about what has become a regular, semi-daily routine for me: biking.

My first bike here was an Oyama folding bike, which I bought on my first year. The justification in getting one boiled down to why-not, because-I-can, and this-is-China-bikes-are-everywhere. I chose a folding bike mainly because of my apartment situation (fourth floor, no elevator). Yes, I can park the thing somewhere else relatively safe, but it will surely stick out all black and shiny, among its rusty, dilapidated cohorts. Several years and apartments later, I decided to not have anything to do with it -and biking- after an accident. Yes, it didn’t really go far, and the most excitement I had with it was going around, scouting photo opportunities during Chinese New Year festivities, and riding the Huangpu River ferry from Pudong to a stop around The Bund.

I swore off bikes for a time, until when I had to use one to ride a bike trail with a group around Yangshuo (read about it here) late June, last year. Riding almost non-stop for 6 hours had me crawling for my bed -since I could not stand on two feet- at the hostel right after, but the realization that I had enough stamina to go through this means one thing for the solo-traveller self: I may not have the knees or footing to trek mountains, but maybe, just maybe, I’m a competent-enough biker.

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Jeju Island, South Korea: Day 4


Manjanggul Cave (만장굴)

Today’s tour was for the East Course, which had two UNESCO World Heritage sites on its list (Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, and Manjang Cave; Jeju women divers were also recently put into the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List), which I would safely assume were the main reasons the only seats available on the bus were at the back. I had already checked out from the guesthouse before I left.

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