Day 231 (22nd April) – Guilin

9 05 2011

Just like we will never really know what really happened to Robert Maxwell, I will never really know what I ate in China….

You know how the sign of a good restaurant is one that’s busy, lively and full of locals – well not in China. We had the misfortune of visiting one such restaurant in Guilin. By some stroke of luck, the menu was both in Chinese and English, allowing us to avoid some of the more ‘interesting’ dishes like snail, tortoise, bamboo rat, viper, sparrow and boars sexual organs. We thought we would make the safe choice of ‘braised Guilin chicken’. Sounds lovely, no? What we got was chicken, but not even the colonel would have used these bits in his KFC fast food restaurants – neck, wing ends, intestines, feet and head… beak and all!!

Jen stuck to the veggies whilst I did my best to get some meat off the butchered chicken bits that were only fit for use in dog food. Also, not many dogs on the street….

Guilin is a lovely place and if the shroud of smog and dust cleared would be truly beautiful. We took a lovely night stroll around the four lakes and two rivers, getting to appreciate the tastefully lit sun and moon pagodas and other less tastefully lit water features. We have always felt very safe in China, other than of course eating something unfit for human consumption. The following day we made it to the busy and incredibly tacky, but still mighty impressive reed flute limestone caves. It has more than it’s fair share of stalactites and stalagmites and was once used as an air raid shelter during the wars.

Reed Flute Caves

It was in the car park just on our way back into town from the caves we had that inevitable car crash we were always going to have on China’s crazy roads. Fortunately it was at 5mph and done in reverse.

China’s GDP might have surpassed Japan and fast approaching the US, but driving conditions and road etiquette are not far better than Indonesia’s. Some drivers ignore red lights, it’s not uncommon to see cars driving the wrong way up a dual carriageway, and bus drivers try to run everything off the road.

I had the misfortune of witnessing a hit and run – a motorcyclist knocked down an old man and then just sped off – life is cheap here. What really annoys me are the scooters that unlike anywhere else insist on using the pavement. To add to the peril of life as a pedestrian in China the sodding things are electric, making them next to impossible to hear as they whiz up behind you.

Back in town we climbed one of the hundreds of 100 or so metre limestone pinnacles the area is famous for, to get a better view of Guilin. After sucking in lung fulls of polluted air the view at the top was hazy – nice.

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