Posts Tagged ‘Guilin’

Travel to 阳朔

Posted: August 21, 2011 in Climbing, Travel
Tags: , , , ,

I’ve left 西安. And thus, I’ve also left the many friends that I made in the past month, friends that I now regard as family. I never thought it would be possible to become so close in just 30 days, but the welcoming spirit and earnest attempts to get to know someone better can do that. I’ll miss you all, and live for the day where we may meet again.

Now on the second half of my China trip, I’m in the town of 阳朔 (Yang Shuo). A pretty touristy town, 阳朔 is full to the brim of Chinese tourists and expats pretending to be local. Food costs double of what it does in 西安, and I’m constantly harassed to eat at restaurants, buy souvenirs, and rent mopeds for a city tour.

But the rock climbing(攀岩) here is phenomenal. I’m currently staying at the hostel of 刘永邦 (Liu Yong Bang), known as Abond to the non-Chinese speaker. The 岩邦之家 (Rock Abond Inn) is one of the many offerings for accommodations in 阳朔, but arguably the best if you’re looking to climb. But more on the climbing later.

Getting out here was a harrowing journey in itself. Originally, I had planned to take a train, for a cost of about 550 RMB (86 USD). Turns out that while a plane ticket costs nearly double (900 RMB = 140 USD), a 2 hour plane ride sounds much more enticing than a 28 hour train ride. I booked a flight for 7:55 am, and arranged for a taxi driver to pick me up from the apartment at 5:50.

Unbeknown to me, the taxi driver ended up having another engagement, so he arranged for his buddy to come pick me up instead. But this new driver neglected to call me, nor make himself apparent when I stepped outside my apartment that morning. Standing there in the pouring rain, with no idea where to go, I called the original driver (George) with whom I had first arranged transport. George apologized for the mix-up, and gave his friend a call. I got a call back from George two minutes later saying that his friend should already be out front waiting for me. I spotted a taxi with a driver asleep inside; knocking on the window, I asked him if he was the person sent to pick me up. He replied “yes, yes, I’m here to take an American to the airport”. I got in the taxi, and we drove off. The time is now 6:05, 15 minutes behind schedule.

Five minutes later, I get a call from George saying that his friend had just seen me get into the wrong taxi, and yet had done nothing to stop me. Don’t worry about it, George said, go ahead and make your flight. My new driver now looks over at me, and realizes that I’m of Chinese blood myself, and am not the gullible white American that he had originally planned on driving. So when he tried to charge me 150 RMB (23 USD), I flatly said no. So pulled over to the side of the road, and refused to go further until we agreed upon a price. I called George, and he said not to pay a dollar over 120 RMB (19 USD). Still another 45 minutes out from he airport, I offered the driver 120 RMB, held my breath when he hesitated, and breathed a sigh of relief when he put the car back in gear. The time is now 6:30.

Shade canopies set up at intersections for motorcycles and bicycles

I stepped into the airport terminal at 7:15, with 10 minutes left to check in. I get in line to check in with Deer Air, the airline from which I booked my flight. Fortunately, the line was moving fairly quickly, and I get to the counter at 7:23.

“我们不飞去桂林” she says. We are not flying to Guilin. I look at her in a moment of panic, and she explains to me “your flight is operated by 海南 (Hainan) Airlines, not us”. Nothing on my ticket said anything of the sort. I ran to the second counter, yelled that I was about to miss my flight, and was brought up to the very front. I checked in my bag and got my boarding pass at exactly 7:25, 30 minutes before departure. Running to the gate, I finally get on the plane, the last person to board. I breath a sigh of relief, and close my eyes for the next two hours to 桂林.

At the 桂林 airport, I take a 30 minute bus-ride into town for 20 RMB. Construction on the road prevents us from getting all the way to the bus station, so I walk the last mile, dragging my suitcase all the way. There, I catch an 18 RMB bus for a hour and a half ride to 阳朔, land of the best climbing in Asia. Wandering the confusing streets through the center of town, I finally stumble into the Rock Abond Inn at 2 pm, 8 hours of harrowing travel over. I sleep through the afternoon, explore a little in the evening, and sleep through the night until 10 the next morning. I’m so glad that the journey is over.

Bus to 阳朔, safe for now

Rock climbing here today. Can’t wait.

白山, 阳朔 - The White Mountain, Yang Shuo. Image stolen from