April 1996 Archives
Getting to Guilin was perhaps the worst travel experience of my life. Yes the scenery of Guilin has been described as the finest under heaven but man we gotta get there first. See, Guilin has mist, lots of it, which sometimes makes it difficult to planes to land. Hence our plane had to turn back and land at Guangzhou - just why it didn't go back to Hong Kong was beyond me. We were forced to spend overnight in a half finished ... concoction of concrete and bricks... that called itself a hotel - the corridor was full of rubble and some parts of the walls were held in place by wooden beams. We dared not touch anything, the walls, floors, basin, taps were just filthy. In the morning we were at Guangzhou airport waiting for an onward connection, sitting there in the waiting area with thousands of other people in a stifling atmosphere we felt like refugees.
Once there and after a day or so we were able to relax and see the beauty. The mountain formations are one of the most unique in the world, jutting out from the river in strange shapes. The river is at its most spetacular from Guilin to Yangshuo, meandering its way through the misty mountains and rural villages. Although tourism is a big part of the economy there, many of the inhabitants were still farmers or fishermen. The traditional bamboo rafts they use on the river seemed too rickety but were fascinating.