It was a restless night with the jolting of the train, hard beds, opening & closing of our cabin door primarily by the chain-smoking mafia guy, and the smell of cigarette smoke wafting in through the air conditioning system. I stayed in bed as long as I could knowing we still had hours remaining in our 1519 km or 943 mile journey. I eventually got up around 8:30am and sat in the corridor with a cup of hot tea then moved into the dining car to eat some crackers and watch the rural scenery go by while waiting for Greg to wake up. He finally got up around 10am and we ate our prepurchased breads in the dining car until they chased us out to make way for the lunch crowd. We returned to our cabin and sat on the lower bunk watching the scenery (mostly farmland/rice fields) until it was time to eat our lunch of instant noodle bowls. By then the sister & brother were awake and also ready to eat so we shared the tiny table with them. Soon enough our car’s attendant came by to return our tickets and told us to be ready to disembark around 2pm. We were thankful she told us because there were no announcements in English so we had no way of knowing for certain when we would reach Guilin.
|instant noodle lunch on the train|
|interesting exhibit in the shopping mall|
I didn’t mind the 6am alarm this morning knowing it was for a good reason. We were basically ready to go by 6:30 but decided not to eat our instant noodles knowing that we had at least a 2 hour van ride ahead of us, most likely without any breaks. Pierre & Georgine were right on time at 7am along with our driver. We passed the time on the road chatting about their reason for being in Guilin (taking a holiday break from living in Shanghai as Pierre studies Mandarin and works on his PhD in Sociology with a focus on Christianity in China) and our travels. After plenty of passing slower vehicles and honking at pedestrians, bike riders & tuk-tuks, we finally made it to the ticket office for the Longji Scenic Area. We paid 50CNY each and had a quick toilet break, then continued on for another 45 minutes to Jinkeng parking area and the entrance to Dazhai village. There we spent some time negotiating with our driver as to when to meet us based on our proposed hiking route. Even one of the local villagers, who came over to offer us trinkets for sale, offered her opinion as to the needed time to hike the Golden Buddha Peak route. Thanks to Pierre’s good Mandarin-speaking skills we were soon on our way up the terraces.
|Pierre & our driver discuss our proposed hiking route|
|backtracking on the narrow rice terrace footpath|
|the view from Golden Buddha Peak|
|our driver navigates the narrow mountain roads from Longsheng back to Guilin|