Friday, December 9, 2011

Smoggy Guilin

When making my plans for China I had chosen Guilin because I thought I'd like to see some beautiful countryside after being in two large cities.  Guilin has these lovely karst mountains that only exist in this region of China, Vietnam, and in Cuba.

However, due to the insane air quality of China, I'm not so sure I made a very good decision.  I've said it before and I will say it again, thank goodness for the Clean Air Act!

So when you go to Guilin you are required to take a boat trip down the River Li.  It was just me and my closest 1000 friends (on about 25 boats) all floating down a narrow river.  My boat was near the end, so at least I could get some boat-free photos.

This boat trip was not cheap.  Still the guide really tried to up-sell us.  My new friend and I had decided we weren't interested, but apparently everyone else was.  Thus, our guide kept coming up to us trying to get us to do the additional tour.  Basically, we had become an inconvenience because we refused to spend another $50 to go on another boat ride.  Without agreeing to take another tour, the guide had a transportation issue (we were supposed to go back by bus after the Li River tour). The guide kept lowering the price for the second tour (it started much higher), but we continued to refuse.  Finally, she decide a compromise was that we would go with the group to the village where the second boat ride was and hang out there until they were done.  She made the village sound so interesting that we agreed to go.

When we got to the village the guide pointed to a small shop and said we could sit there for an hour while everyone went on the boat ride.  My intention was to follow the group on whatever silly tour they were getting in the village and then just wander while they were on their little bamboo boats.  I'm pretty sure this really pissed the guide off because we were getting a "tour" for free.  But honestly, I was doing her a favor by being there and I wasn't about to sit in a small shop with no windows.

Once everyone got on their little bamboo boats (with Red Bull umbrellas -- very authentic), my new friend and I took a short walk and then found a lovely cafe on the water and had a cup of tea/coffee.  We even had a little kitten to play with.  Basically, we salvaged the afternoon and everyone else got totally hosed!

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Baby water buffalo!

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