Guilin and Yangshuo

When we arrived in Guilin, we quickly and easily checked into our hostel. Our train arrived at nine and we were out strolling around the city by ten. We were immediately impressed with Guilin. The city is full of water. There are three rivers flowing past karst peaks. All the streets are tree-lined, and everything was still nice and green. It was a little cloudy and blustery, but it was still beautiful.

First we went to Solitary Beauty Peak. It is a karst mountain in the middle of town with a small complex surrounding it. Apparently, Sun Yatsen took residency there at some point. Grace questioned the fifty yuan entrance fee, and ultimately, she turned out to be right to be skeptical of it’s worth. We climbed the stairs to the peak for a nice view, and a tour guide let us in the cave under the mountain.

We spent the afternoon strolling around the rivers and lakes. My stomach had been a little upset since the morning, so we decided to take a nap to see if that would help. It did, and we enjoyed some pizza for dinner. Afterwards we watched the fountain, lights, and music show out on the lake. It was something the Chinese could have made horribly cheesy, but they didn’t. We sat by the lake for awhile and enjoyed ourselves.

In the night, my upset stomach culminated in me throwing up. It was relieving because I felt better immediately afterwards.

The next morning, Grace and I went to the police station to get her visa extended. We rented bikes to cover more distance during the day. The rental cost only twenty yuan and there was no deposit, but they told us that if we lost them they would cost five hundred yuan a piece. We got the the police station at nine and they told us that the visa office was in a meeting. After over an hour passed, there was no sign of the visa staff and people were piling us for visa services. We decided to go do something and come back after lunch.

We went to nearby Seven Star Park. The seven peaks in the park are supposed to look like the big dipper. It was the best park I’ve been to in China. Cheesy music was noticeably missing; the scenery was great. Grace and I wondered off the path and ended up climbing up one of the peaks. It wasn’t very difficult, but after we took a look at the hill from a distance, we were more impressed with ourselves. The view from on top was nice, but it was still as cloudy and hazy as the day before. We blazed our own path up, but we saw the way others normally came when we reached the top. We took their less grueling path back down.

We still had some time to kill before the police station reopened after lunch. We had lunch and wandered until it was time to get back to the police station. We walked out of the gate to the part and I pointed to the place where our bikes were locked. There were no bikes. We ran over. Our lock was cleanly cut and placed in the basket of a bike that was locked to the same pole ours was.

There was actually deliberation on where to put our bikes when we arrived. Most bikes were parked in this one area but not locked to anything. We chose to put our bikes on a light pole near the street. There were many people walking by and many cars going past. We locked both our bikes together through the wheels and then locked then to the pole. Only my lock that went around both bikes and the pole was cut, so someone took the two bikes and put them in a truck. Luckily, we were already on our way to the police station.

When we got to the police station, we were served promptly. Grace handled her visa paperwork, and I was told that we had to go to a different police station to report our stolen bikes. Grace had to get a photo and copies of her visa made to finish processing it, so we decided to finish that first.

We were referred to a photo shop out of the station on our right, and directions from locals lead us back and forth down the street for what seemed like hours. When we finally arrived at the photo shop, we were told that we would have to wait till four to get our pictures. Our bikes were stolen between 10:00 and 2:30, so I assumed that the police’s chances of recovering the bikes were significantly dropping. We debated whether or not to report the bikes, the Lonely Planet said that the police sometimes recover stolen articles. Four o’clock turned into five o’clock four our pictures. However, waiting the extra time led to a new shift at the visa office and new time to return for Grace’s new visa. Originally, we had been told it would be ready in a week, next Monday, but the new officer told us it would be ready on Friday.

We then trudged onward to the police station. I managed to get across what was stolen, when, and where, but communication was difficult. I was really pleased with the demeanor of the police; they were very patient with us and pleasant. The told us to go back to our hostel and have them translate for us.

When we returned to the hostel, we had them call the police. After having them translate some things, they wanted me to show them where exactly the bicycles were stolen. I took a cab with one of the hostel workers and showed them where the bikes were, and we went to a different police station. The police officer there said that they would start looking for the bikes the next day after they had the receipts from the bikes. The employee encouraged me by saying that the police had recovered two stolen bikes for their hostel before. Regardless, I had to go to an ATM and fork over one thousand yuan. The bikes weren’t Beijing clunkers, but they certainly make a substantial profit on them.

The next morning we got our things together and left for Yangshuo. The bus only took an hour, but in that time Grace’s stomach got upset. We checked into our new hostel. Down one thousand yuan, we opted for the ten yuan beds for our stay. The roof is slanted; I can’t stand up all the way; there is no heat; and the music was blaring in our rooms from the clubs on the street last night. You get what you pay for, but I still slept fine.

Yangshuo is even more impressive than Guilin. The rock faces are sharper and the village runs right up next to the peaks. The town is catered to backpackers, so I’ve enjoyed lasagna, blueberry cheesecake, and banana pancakes since I’ve been here.

After wandering around town for awhile on arrival, Grace leaned over a rail by the river and threw up. Mostly since we’ve been here we’ve only walked around town and ate. Last night a fellow traveler advertised five yuan beer from the second floor of a restaurant. We went up and chatted with them for a while, and they saw some people with whom they had taken a tour earlier in the week. They turned out to be two brothers who were photographers for National Geographic who had been working in a story in Hong Kong about shark fin soup. We reveled over them having everyone’s dream job. They were actually born and raised in Bermuda, but had take residency in Colorado during their adolescence. Our conversation was cut short by Grace becoming sick again, and we returned to her rail for a more violent vomiting session. We went ahead and went to bed. Grace threw up two more in our bathroom during the night.

Today, Grace’s condition has only improved slightly. She’s stopped throwing up, but she is still pretty incapacitated. We took a long walk this morning, but we returned not long afterwards so Grace could take a nap. I took one with her to keep her company. We hoped to get two days of bike riding in before we returned to Guilin, but I’m still hopeful that Grace will improve over the day and we’ll get a full day of something in tomorrow. We are carrying some good medicine and we upped the strength of her medicine from over the counter to prescription.