4-day tour group accompaniment in Guilin and its vicinity
2011-05-20China travel Guide
English editor at Visit Our China, I finally had the chance to be offered a 4-day tour-group accompaniment in Guilin, Longsheng (Longji) rice terraces, Yangshuo. This experience being so far the best one I had in the company, I would like to share it for making you discovering more our company and Guilin’s beauty.
Saturday, 16th April
Meeting time and place fixed with the English speaking tour guide Sharon that I was going to accompany during these 4 coming days, we first met at a bus station near to our place to go taking the Guilin airport shuttle bus. After an half an hour long route, we finally arrived at the airport, meeting the local professional driver and preparing the welcoming sign with personal name and Visit Our China’s flag.
The group that was coming to Guilin this day was a special one to the company as they were old friends coming for some of them, for the second time in beautiful Guilin city. Composed of 7 people from Island, all from the same family and friends, the mood during these 4 days was already expected to be friendly and happy: what definitely happened at the end!
Warmly welcomed after their arrival, the group was then oriented to the little tour bus, comfortable and supplied with air conditioner. Heading to the hotel, the drive back to Guilin city center was the opportunity for Sharon the guide, to heartily welcome the group again, making a general recap over the 4 coming days tour and telling the origins, history and the different characteristics of Guilin and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. I could also have the chance to present myself in front of the group, telling them about why I was following them during this tour. Everyone was so open-minded, understanding and kind.
Arrived at the hotel, check-in done and time to relax for a while passed, the group was then directed to the city center where the friendly welcome diner with Sandy and Sissi was planned. A great diner filled with joy and happiness, after which we brought back the group to their hotel for a cool night, Sharon telling them about the next day’s plan and giving some advices for which kind of clothes and shoes wearing for the day after.
Sunday, 17th April
On Sunday morning, Sharon and I met the group at 8:30 in the lobby of the hotel where they were staying for two nights. Prepared for such a day discovering first some of Guilin’s typical sightseeing and the Longsheng (Longji) rice terraces, everyone went on the bus, and Sharon made a brief speech about the first visit of the day.
The Elephant Trunk Hill that the group was first discovering is the most important scenic spot and symbol of Guilin city, a marvel to anyone when first seeing it. Sharon first started to present the history of the place closely related to production and storage of wine in ancient and present times. After a visit and some shopping in the local museum and shop, the group had some time to take pictures and marvel at the sight of the Elephant Trunk Hill and the beautiful Li River.
The second attraction of the morning was the famous Fubo Hill, renown for its view equaling the Solitary Beauty Peak nearby. After first climbing the Hill to have a sight over Guilin’s beautiful skyline with the group, the visit headed to the Thousand Buddhas Cave and the Sword-testing rock. The visit was the occasion for me to talk with some members of the group who asked me questions about the site and about my experience in China.
By the end of the morning, we continued the trip by a 2-hour drive in private bus to the site of Longsheng (Longji) rice terraces. The drive was the occasion for Sharon to talk about the many different ethnic minorities of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region as well as the people that are living in the Guilin-Longsheng area. All the group was captivated by the speech and so excited about arriving in the county of Longsheng to meet the locals and see the landscape over there.
After a lunch tasting some local food among which the famous bamboo rice (rice cooked in a bamboo), the early afternoon was the occasion for having a little hike in the terraces to see Longsheng sightseeing. The group couldn’t believe about where they were standing and this was for me interesting to see their reaction in front of this landscape that I saw many times but am still impressed at. Meeting local Zhuang people in the Ping’an Village, the group was so pleased to have such a beautiful insight into China’s life and beauty. By 5 p.m. this was already the time to come back to Guilin city, have a free time diner and a good rest before heading to Yangshuo on Monday morning.
Monday, 18th April
Meeting at 8:00 a.m. at the hotel and after a good breakfast, the private bus took the group, Sharon and I to the pier where taking on board for the greatest highlight of this 4-day tour: the Li River Cruise.
The cruise taken by the group was one on a big tourism boat supplied with all comforts, air-conditioner, buffet and drink service. Departing from Guilin, the cruise lasted 4 to 5 hours, during which the group and the other tourists present on the boat could whether have a rest on their sofas and table, or get on the roof to enjoy the scenery of the Li River. Despite the boat’s load speakers explaining in English the different mountain sites that we were passing by, Sharon did her best to explain to the group the history along the river, the local lifestyle, etc… Everyone was pleased, and after a good lunch on board, made of a mix of western to Chinese food, the boat finally reached Yangshuo.
Yangshuo is one of the best tourist city of the region, often associated with Guilin eventhough some differences are noticeable (smallest than Guilin, no big buildings, more western lifestyle especially in the center). We disembarked near to the most famous street of the city: the West Street, a paradise of souvenirs and other Chinese specialties for tourists. Sharon and I succeeded in managing the group through the crowd onto the hotel which was conveniently located at the very beginning of the West Street. New check-in done with Sharon, and relax time ok, the group then started its visit of sweet Yangshuo. The afternoon spent in visiting the famous Moon Hill scenic spot as well as the Big Banyan Tree planted during the Sui Dynasty (581-618). The weather was so perfectly clear and hot this day that the impression of everyone in the family was just great. After such visits, I could just hear them telling to me that Yangshuo and Guilin are the best places they have ever been in China and maybe even the world.
The end of the afternoon was a free time for the group, Sharon and I. The group decided then to have a shopping time in the West Street and enjoy a western-food diner before the great evening that was coming: the Impression of Sister Liu show! This show is one of the biggest highlight of Yangshuo and an optional must on a tour that I had the tremendous chance to enjoy together with the group. Lasting around 70 minutes, the show is played at the outskirts of Yangshuo, with a game of lights and sound with karstic mountains on the background. Of a great beauty, the after show time and the way back to the hotel was the opportunity to talk with the group with their impression and feeling about the show. Everyone was so pleased by this evening. Back to hotel and everything fixed for the next morning with Sharon, Yangshuo nightlife was starting!
Tuesday, 19th April
The last day in Yangshuo and Guilin had arrived! Taking a last group picture in front of the hotel in Yangshuo before leaving, the private bus took the group back to Guilin where a last visit was planned.
The Reed and Flute Cave is a top highlight of Guilin karstic topography that cannot be missed. Entering in the caves, the fresh air was a relief from the hot weather of Guilin at that period of the year. The group could just but be impressed by the rocks’ formations and the games of lights creating a magic universe. Explaining the different meanings of the rocks and the legends being them, Sharon did the best to give the group an nice impression of this top-rated cave of Guilin.
Visits done, the last time available in the end of the morning in Guilin was the occasion for the group to do some shopping. In early afternoon, everyone departed to the airport for the group’s next destination: Chongqing and the Yangtze River Cruise. The time for saying goodbye had arrived and this is not without feeling a little twinge of sadness that we left, Sharon and I, the group at the airport. Everyone had been so nice and excited during the all trip that it had been such a good experience for me to follow them during this 4-day tour. By following Sharon, I could learn more about how China tour guides deal concretely with western tourists, taking extreme good care of them and this was the good opportunity for me to see how works the hotels reservations, check-in, tour excursions, etc… during the tour with a group. The guide could meet the needs of everyone in the group, making it hard to make them feel home and have a great impression of her hometown, Guilin.
This accompaniment was a chance that the company gave me and I am so thankful to them. I’m looking now for more experiences like this in the great country that is China.
--- By Sophie (VistOurChina)