Home Up

NOTE: "HOME" takes you to our initial home page; "UP" will return you 
to the Round The World 2012 site for more exploring.

If you want to skip ahead to a particular destination,
just click on one of the following links:   Nanchang 
Beijing    Hefei     Guilin

Monday, 17 September:  We were up at 6:00AM (ugh!) so that we could make our way back to the Adelaide Airport in time to enjoy the Qantas Lounge before our 11:15AM flight to Hong Kong which stopped en route at Melbourne.  We had to de-plane in Melbourne so we went to Cathay’s lounge.  It was very nice and we enjoyed some traditional Chinese favorites – dim sum, dumplings, rice & veggies.  Then, we re-boarded our original plane for the 9 hour flight to Hong Kong.  Our flight arrived in Hong Kong at 9:50PM.  Immigration and customs went smoothly and we were able to catch the Airport Express Train to Kowloon.  From there, we caught a courtesy shuttle to the Holiday Inn Golden Mile.  We arrived at the hotel at about 10:30PM – very, very quickly.  We had a nice room and it was pleasant to sleep in a bed and try to get back on somewhat of a schedule despite the time differences we encountered from Broome to Hong Kong.

Tuesday, 18 September:  After checking out of the Holiday Inn, we walked across the street and went downstairs to an underground pedway to catch the metro to the East Tsim Tsau Station.  From there we went one stop to Hung Hom station.  It was here that we picked up tickets for the 12:14 train to Guangzhou East Station.  The train boarded about 15 minutes in advance and while there was no luggage area, we (as well as many other individuals) simply left our luggage near the boarding doors.

Upon arrival at the Guangzhou East Station at 2:09PM, we went to the Holiday Inn City Centre transfer desk and were taken to an complimentary awaiting van for transfer.  Unfortunately, we didn’t arrive at the hotel until about 5:00PM.  The reason for this was various road closures associated with anti-Japanese protests which coincided with the 1931 invasion of China by Japan on September 18.  The normal observations had been antagonized by recent disputes between the two countries over a group of small islands in the East China Sea.  Japanese call the islands “Senkaku”; Chinese call them “Diaoyu.”

Our driver had to use many roads to finally get us to the hotel which is typically only a 15 minute ride.  We got to see a lot of the residential parts of Guangzhou we might not have otherwise seen.  As we approached the area near the hotel, he resorted to using one-way streets (in the wrong direction!) to finally get us to the side entrance.  The road directly in front of the hotel was closed because the nearby Garden Hotel, which is Japanese owned, was slated for demonstrations.

Once inside the hotel, we went immediately to the Club Floor.  As soon as we stepped off the elevator, Spring, a key member of the Executive Club staff, was waiting to greet us and we all exchanged hugs.  We first visited the Holiday Inn City Centre’s Executive Club in 2009 when we had a one night stay in Guangzhou.  It was on that visit that we met Spring and she encouraged us to return for sightseeing.  We’ve been doing so every year since!  We were upgraded to a beautiful two-room corner suite.  Interestingly, from there we were able to see and hear the anti-Japanese protestors.  They had taken over the entire street with onlookers watching from behind barricades.  We took a few photographs and then decided it was time to go to the Executive Club for cocktails and snacks.  From there, we couldn’t see or hear the protests and instead we watched children playing basketball at a nearby school.  Spring suggested that we stay in for the evening and we quickly agreed (despite there being no danger from the protestors).  It was nice to enjoy the warm hospitality and chat with Spring and her associates.

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Protestors blocking the street

Wednesday, 19 September:  We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast in Café Cascade, including noodle soup, steamed vegetables, stir-fried noodles and dumplings.  We sought out the manager, “Fannie” to say hello as she and her staff and the chefs provide great service.  Afterwards, we stopped by the Executive Club to see Spring and get some touring ideas from her as well as a Guangzhou map. Then, we were off.

Before beginning any touring, we first decided to ride the metro to the Guangzhou East train station to see how easy (or difficult) it would be to obtain train tickets to Shenzhen, a city we will be visiting next March after we spend some additional time next year in Guangzhou.  After making several line changes we arrived at the train station and quickly discovered that tickets are sold 10 days in advance.  We also learned we couldn’t do automated bookings since we’re foreigners but we learned where to buy tickets from a cashier and what the cost would be (100CNY/person, cash only).  So, with that information in hand, we’ll be ready for our 2013 trip.

Also, before leaving the train station, we decided to check-out the area that we’ll be using when we return back to Hong Kong after we once again visit Guangzhou this October.  We’ll be using the MTR Train we took to Guangzhou on its reverse route.  We found the departures lounge and ultimately found the ticket counters.  However, to our dismay, we learned that the tickets we had prepaid for our return travel two days before had to be picked up in Hong Kong!  Oops!  To get back to Hong Kong, we would have to purchase new tickets and pay for them in cash using Chinese Yuan.  So, an unexpected glitch in our travel plans.

Therefore, instead of doing the touring we had planned, we decided to return to the Holiday Inn and contact the MTR on-line booking system to see what could be done.  In checking the web site, we learned that indeed all tickets had to be picked up in Hong Kong, so it was a mistake on our part not to pick-up the return tickets when we left Hong Kong the previous day.  We quickly sent an email to an MTR representative explaining the situation and our misunderstanding of how the ticketing system worked.  Thankfully, in the early evening we received an email saying that the ticket price would be refunded.  Yeah!  So, lesson learned and we will now be buying our return tickets back to Hong Kong when we once again return to Guangzhou.

After getting through that mess, it was time to unwind and relax so we went to happy hour at the Executive Club Lounge.  Tonight Spring was off duty but her associates took good care of us.  We enjoyed a gin & tonic with some veggies and dip.  We then ate some delicious appetizers (curry fish balls, chicken nuggets and steamed dumplings) while sipping on a very good Chilean cabernet sauvignon.   It was a great way to unwind after a somewhat stressful day that ended up working out okay.  Thankfully, it occurred while we had time to deal with it rather than occurring on the day of our departure back to mainland China.

Thursday, 20 September:  Today was a travel day - our first visit to Nanchang.  We left Guangzhou at 10:55AM and arrived at the airport in Nanchang at 12:30PM.  This was a very nice airport but very few (if anyone we encountered) spoke English.  We were able to follow signs for the Airport Bus so that we could take a bus into town rather than using a cab.  After some sign language and showing the name of our hotel (the Crowne Plaza Riverside) written in Chinese characters, we were eventually directed to Airport Bus 2.

The driver took great care of us!  He indicated that we should sit in the first row of the bus.  When we were crossing a very long bridge/causeway over the Gan River and finally got into town (the airport is ~28KM outside of the city center), he actually pointed out the Crowne Plaza to us from the bus.  Then he stopped at the closest city bus stop where he could pull over (not a normal Airport bus stop) and we were able to walk to the hotel from there.  Again, he was really nice!

When we arrived at the hotel we were really impressed with the huge and beautiful lobby. The hotel was only one year old. We went to the Executive Club on the 33rd floor to check-in.  There a young woman welcomed us but quickly telephoned “Joyce” to assist with our check-in.  (We eventually learned that Joyce was an Assistant Manager who spoke fluent English).  As we checked in, Joyce told us about the perks of the Executive Club and she also advised that we had been upgraded to a suite.  That was very impressive but even more impressive when we arrived at our room.  It was probably the nicest hotel suite we had ever encountered!  In fact, we actually took photographs before we cluttered the place with our things.  The suite had two huge rooms, two bathrooms and even a walk in closet with a window in it. The suite was located on a corner of the building and offered great views of the huge Gan River as well as a nearby residential area.

After briefly settling into our room, we returned to the Club to enjoy a cold beverage.  While doing so, we watched various junks (small boats) pull into the shore.  Eventually, there were about 13 boats and we saw someone from each boat bring a basket to the shore.  Now, remember, we were 33 stories high so viewing was tough.  However, we later confirmed with Joyce that these boats come in to sell fish to locals.  It was interesting to watch (if only from a distance) but we both decided to make it a “must do” as part of our touring.

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The Nanchang Crowne Plaza
(center front)
A view of the city of Nanchang
A bridge crossing the Gan River
The junks on the Gan River
coming to sell their late
afternoon catch

[ T O P ]

We returned to our room and continued unpacking.  Since the hotel was packed (at least in the Lobby area earlier in the day), we decided to go to the Club for happy hour at 5:30PM when it began.  Interestingly, there were a couple of other individuals already there.  However, the crowds we anticipated never arrived.  A few individuals (all Asian except for one) arrived and went, primarily having a cup of coffee and a sweet.

So, we enjoyed a cold beer (unfortunately, nothing local but instead Heineken) and then the same Chilean wine (Las Condes) we had at the Club in Guangzhou.  Again, as with most IHG properties (but not all), the appetizers served in the Club were outstanding.  While they didn’t have any “munchies” (i.e., veggies & dip; peanuts, etc.), they served numerous hot dishes – even pizza – as well as canapés and numerous desserts.  So, we watched the sunset over the Gan and the junks leave the shore one-by-one until about 7:30PM.  Then, it was time to enjoy our amazing suite and the views it offered.

Friday, 21 September:  We woke up to a rainy, foggy morning – we couldn’t even see across the river.  After Ed did some paperwork (while Lindy continued to sleep), it was time to enjoy another delicious Chinese breakfast.  Again, the Crowne Plaza’s restaurant, Café Asia, didn’t disappoint.  We began with freshly made noodle soup, followed by wonderful Chinese vegetables and noodles.  Yummy!  The rain continued and actually got worse throughout our breakfast.  When we were finished, we went to check on touring within the city as well as some nearby areas.  Again, Joyce was called to assist in answering our questions.

We were given a city map (written in Chinese) and Joyce helped point out some of the sites we were already aware of but couldn’t find on the map without assistance.  We discovered that we would be able to walk to many of them and, if not, we could taxi (there is no mass transit other than buses although a subway is under construction).  It was a good investment of time since the rain continued to fall.  

About 12:00 noon, we decided to stay in for the day as the rain and fog worsened.  We enjoyed our room, HBO movies, catching up on paperwork, reviewing photographs, etc. until it was time to return to the Club for happy hour.

Saturday, 22 September:  Again, we enjoyed another delicious breakfast at Café Asia.  The noodle soup which is made to order is fantastic!  Ed quickly learned that you use a small bowl to pick out which fresh vegetables you want in the soup. These included various fresh mushrooms (many of which we’ve never seen before) and a variety of green vegetables.  You give that bowl to the Chef, in this case Chef Berg, who cooks them along with either fresh or dried noodles.  The Chef also adds some vegetables of the day – like bok chow, bean sprouts, etc.  After everything is cooked, he strains the items and puts them into a bowl and then pours a fresh pork broth over everything.  Then, you add spices to suit your taste – such as soy sauce, chili paste, spicy sauce, scallions and sesame oil.  Again, fantastic and who would want to eat a Western breakfast when this soup and other wonderful Chinese dishes are available?!  We also enjoyed lots of sautéed vegetables, noodles, rice dishes and salad.

After enjoying the breakfast feast, it was time for a walk – and a long walk at that.  We strolled along the Gan River for about 35-45 minutes until we reached Tengwang Pavilion.  It’s a beautiful complex with several gardens, ponds and small side buildings which are complimented by Tengwang Pavilion in the center.  The Pavilion is nine stories tall and is built in the style typical of the Song Dynasty (960-1279).  It was destroyed many times (we believe 28 times) and was last rebuilt in 1989.  The reconstruction was really well done!  We were able to walk up several flights of stairs to get views of the entire complex.  (On an aside, the stairs were level and easy to climb and there was one set for going up and one set for going down; nothing like the winding, narrow stairway we encountered in St. Olaf’s Church in Tallinn).  As we were enjoying the Pavilion, we came to realize we were definitely once again off the beaten path in China.  We were asked (using sign language) if it was okay to take our pictures and then have our pictures taken with our various new friends.  Hey, it’s fun to be a celebrity (even if only in our own minds!).  Seriously, relatively few Westerners make it to Nanchang and the local people love to meet Westerners especially, individuals from America (they refer to the USA as simply “America”).

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Enroute to Tengwang Pavilion
along the Gan River
Tengwang Pavilion
Some size perspective as
we stand by a giant lion,
one of two protectors of Tengwang
An incense burner and crane statutes
outside the main entry
A beautiful relief inside Tengwang
A painting depicting typical garb
during the Ming Dynasty
A small Buddha surrounded
by chimes
Looking down from the top of
Tengwang to its courtyard
(and now those lions look tiny)
This is a banquent hall which was
used by Emperor Zhu Yuan Zhang,
1st Ming Dynasty Emperor, after
defeating Chen You Liang
Us with a new friend
The gardens at Tengwang Pavilion
A beautiful bonsai in the gardens

 [ T O P ]

After spending the day at Tengwang, we made the long trek back to the Crowne Plaza.  After cleaning up after the long walk, it was time to enjoy happy hour in the Executive Club.  We began with a cold beer and then returned to sipping some Las Condes red wine while watching the sun set over the Gan River.  Along with the wine, we once again enjoyed some delicious appetizers before calling it a night.

Sunday, 23 September:  After a leisurely breakfast, we decided it would be a good day to walk to BaYi Square.  We walked about a third of a mile along the Gan River and then realized we had forgotten the camera.  Oops.  So, we retraced our path back to the hotel.  It was hot and muggy so we decided to cool off in the room before going out again. 

Since we had already walked a pretty good distance, we changed our plans and decided that instead of visiting BaYi Square, we would instead walk to Shengin Pagoda.  So, instead of walking along the river, we worked out a route away from the Gan toward the city center.  We didn’t have much difficulty doing so because there is a canal in town which parallels the river and serves as a second landmark.  Using it, we were able to figure out on the map (written only in Chinese) the best way to reach the Pagoda.

Again, it was a long walk but definitely worth the effort.  Most of the streets were typical streets with large high-rise buildings and businesses.  However, as we approached the Pagoda, we went into a typical residential area.  It was filled with tiny restaurants with clients sitting at small tables set on the sidewalk.  Also, there were numerous games being played – either Majong, Chinese checkers or cards – by older individuals.  Again, we got a lot of looks since few foreigners visit Nanchang no less a residential neighborhood.  After taking a few photographs on this side street, we entered the Shengin Pagoda (“Rope and Gold” Pagoda) complex.  This is the oldest structure in Nanchang and it dates back to the Qing Dynasty (1614).  As the legend goes, on the location of the Pagoda a monk found an iron box containing four bundles of golden rope, 300 luminous Sarira stones and three ancient swords.  The Pagoda is seven stories tall and is octagonal in shape.  Legend also says that if the Pagoda is every destroyed, the city of Nanchang will also be destroyed.

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A street nearby Shengin Pagoda
The Shengin Pagoda complex
Buddha with a wall
of tiny Buddhas
Lindy ringing the bronze
bell in the complex
A few of all seven
stories of Shengin Pagoda
One of the many smaller
buildings/temples in the complex
The interior of the building
These statutes (and incense
burner in the center) face
Shengin Pagoda
These three swords are said
to have magical properties
A beautiful marble
relief along a set of stairs
Lindy with a group of 16 year olds
who asked her to be in a
photograph with them

[ T O P ]

When we left Shengin Pagoda, we reversed our route back through the residential neighborhood and onto the business streets until we reached the canal.  Then, we took a little different route back to the Crowne Plaza.  Again, it was a long walk and we were pretty pooped when we got back to our room.

Since it had been so hot and humid during the day, it was time for a cold shower and lots of air conditioning upon our return.  Afterwards, we caught up on a few business items before going to the Executive Club.  Again, except for a few German businessmen, we had the place to ourselves.  It was especially nice during the course of our stay because it gave us time to interact with the staff members:  Ivy, Shirley and Rebecca.  They were all very nice young women in their 20’s who had worked very hard to learn English and to learn the skills necessary to obtain their positions in the Executive Club at the Crowne Plaza.

Monday, 24 September:  Once again, we woke up to rain so we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast.  By now, the staff in Café Asia had grown accustomed to seeing an “American couple” and lost much of their shyness.  So each morning, we spoke with one or two other individuals who wanted to interact with Americans and practice their English skills.

After the rain quit late in the morning, we headed out to BaYi Square.  From the hotel, it was a very long walk; it took us over two hours to reach the Square.  We first walked along the Gan River, then turned towards the town center and crossed the canal and walked, walked and walked.

BaYi Square is located in the center of town and is the second largest public square in China (obviously, the first being Tiananmen Square).  The name means “Eight One” in Chinese.  This name comes from the August 1, 1927 uprising in Nanchang which was lead by Zhu De and Zhou Enlai against the existing government.  The soldiers under their command were beaten but many escaped to the nearby Jinggang Mountains and ultimately became the Red Army or People’s Liberation Army which also is known as the BaYi (Eight One) Army.

The highlight of the square was a monument dedicated to the Army.  It is a large carved obelisk on top of which is a rifle with a bayonet.  Interestingly, at one side of the square is a huge Wal-Mart.  We had to laugh a bit to ourselves about the irony of the symbol of American capitalism sitting opposite the moment. 

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A typical street
The Monument dedicated to the Army
A view of the square from
a raised walkway outside WalMart

[ T O P ]

Tuesday, 25 September:  Ed is always up early and today was no exception.  However, Lindy joined him about an hour later so that we could go visit the Gan River to see the fish market “up close and personal.”  It was definitely worth the effort!

We walked out of the hotel complex and crossed a four-lane road.  Then, we climbed over a small fence and after scaling a concrete embankment we were on the sandy shores of the Gan River.  (The concrete embankment was built to protect the area from erosion associated with flooding.)  There the fish market was in full swing.  Each of the various junks had brought red tubs to the beach and they were selling various types of fish – large and small – which they had kept alive first in the “live wells” on their boats and then in the red tubs.  There were lots of shoppers and many transactions going on.  We also realized that in addition to locals buying the fish, there were some wholesalers and/or restaurant-owners purchasing fish too.  One particularly interesting sale was that of a huge fish (we weren’t familiar with the species but it was 3’ to 4’ long and very silvery).  The fisherman carried the live fish (using a sling over his shoulder) up to the road area where it was purchased by someone who definitely wanted to show off a great catch.  We envisioned it sitting on ice as a centerpiece in a hotel restaurant that evening.

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The morning fish market
is in full swing
Two individuals checking
the status of their fish nets
Several varieties of fish for sale
Customers shopping at the market
The angler with his huge catch
The huge fish is being
carried off for sale elsewhere
[ T O P ]

We spent about an hour watching the market until it started winding down.  Then, we retraced our path and returned to the hotel for our final breakfast (our departure tomorrow will be before the restaurant opens). When we got to the restaurant, it was absolutely crazy.  There was a large group in the hotel for a meeting and one of the staff members told us the restaurant was serving 400+ people.  Whew!  We went slowly and things settled down as those individuals had to get on to their meeting venue.

After breakfast, we walked to a nearby shopping mall.  It was a four story building but, interestingly, it did not include any major department stores and/or “anchor” stores but instead it was all small shops.  Typically, each floor had a different type of product (i.e., one floor had women’s clothing; one had children’s clothing, etc.).  We wandered there for several hours and then returned back to hotel to pack in anticipation of our early departure tomorrow.

Afterwards, we went upstairs to once again enjoy the Executive Club’s hospitality and service.  It was a great way to end our six night stay in Nanchang.

Wednesday, 26 September:  We had to get up really early (4:30AM – ugh, ugh!) due to an early morning flight to Beijing.  We were downstairs in the lobby at 5:20AM and the individual on duty called a taxi for us.  He arrived in about 10 minutes with time already on the meter (not a good sign).  As we got into the taxi, he started telling us the fare he expected (using the digits on his cell phone he indicated he wanted 130CNY).  Ed previously had spoken with the Assistant Managers about the anticipated fare and each had told him between 100CNY and 150CNY depending on time of day.  Since there was absolutely no one on the roads, Ed insisted on 100CNY.  The driver tried again several times to negotiate a higher fare until Ed started to open the taxi door.  Then, amazingly, the fare was just fine.

The ride to the airport took only about 30 minutes (and that was with a 5 minute stop where the driver got out and bought a soup to go for his breakfast).  Once at the airport, we had to wait for the Air China counters to open.  Once we were checked-in, everything went smoothly and we enjoyed our flight to Beijing albeit we were about 30 minutes late in transit. 

Upon arriving at the baggage claim, we found both our bags but one bag had the pulling extension out and it had been bent so we couldn’t move it up or down.  Not a good sign.  So, we went over to the China Air baggage assistance area and the representatives quickly saw the problem.  They came up with a quick solution – they took a brand new (labels still on), similar size bag out from their storage area and asked if we would accept it for our broken one.  Hey, we thought it was excellent service and we did so gladly.  Then, it took a few minutes to take everything from the old bag and get it into the new one.  We didn’t worry too much about how things fit since we knew we would be unpacking shortly.

We then worked our way to the Airport Express Train and took it to the Dongzhimen Station, where it intersects with the Beijing metro system.  From there, we took Metro Line 2 to the Fuchengmen Station.  Once there, Ed remembered how to take a short-cut to reach the Holiday Inn Beijing Downtown in about a 3 minute walk.  So, it took less than an hour from the airport to be in the hotel.  Nice!

We went to the Executive Club on the 9th Floor (again, Ed remembered where it was located) and checked into the hotel.  Again, due to Ed’s status, we were upgraded to a nice two-room suite.  After cleaning up a bit, we went back to the lounge to cool off over a Diet Coke.  Yes, we were back in an area where diet beverages were available.

Upon returning to the room, we unpacked and started planning our touring for the upcoming days.  Then, at 6:00PM we returned to the Executive Club for happy hour.  The Club is different than most.  It has fabulous food which is prepared by one of the hotel’s gourmet restaurants.  However, anything but beer (or soft drinks) has to be ordered from the bar and delivered upstairs to the Club.  It is complimentary but, we learned on prior occasions, that a drink has very little alcohol.  So, this year we learned to order only alcohol – Absolut Citron Vodka – on ice and then add our own tonic (which is kept in the Club’s refrigerator).  When the vodka arrived, it was a nice size serving and we actually got at least two ice cubes each so we now know how to make the system work.  After enjoying some dim sum and a couple of drinks, we were both tired and ready to return to our room for the evening by 8:00PM.

Thursday, 27 September:  The upcoming weekend is one in which two holidays coincide – Mid-Autumn Holiday and National Holidays.  The first is a family-oriented time in which Moon Cakes are given as gifts while the latter is a celebration of the founding of Communist China.  As a result, the number of people in Beijing was going to rise exponentially due to individuals coming into town from other cities for one or both occasions.  Therefore, we decided to spend our first morning in Beijing at one of its most famous sites – Tiananmen Square.  So, we walked to the metro, made a single line change, and we were there.  While many people were already at the Square, the crowds were still manageable so it was good timing on our part.  We were able to take photographs of the Square as well as some of the beautifully sculptured flowers and plants used to decorate the area.

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Tiananmen Square
with colorful flowers in the foreground
A beautiful topiary display
Another beautiful display
Soldiers marching under the
gaze of Chairman Mao's photograph

 Afterwards, we decided to make our first visit to the Temple of Confucius.  We again returned to the metro and this time rode away from the crowds at Tiananmen to the secluded area near the Temple.  As we walked away from the metro and the nearby Lama Temple, Ed recognized a tiny street leading to the Temple that he had previously read about prior to our visit.  So, we walked down it for several blocks and we found the Temple.

 En route to the Temple, the weather had gotten cloudy and windy.  As we arrived, a slight rain began to fall.  However, the Temple grounds have a lot of trees so we were able to seek shelter there.  There was some sort of a production being filmed at the Temple so there were some areas that we roped off and others that had red carpeting covered by waterproof tarps.  So, this made photography a bit of a challenge.  Then, the weather worsened and the skies opened up.  Thankfully, the Temple has a great collection of materials related to Confucius in indoor exhibit rooms so we spent our time in these while the rain poured.  We were able to learn quite a bit about his life and take some photographs too.  Then, when the rain lessened, we explored other pavilions in the complex.  Due to the rain (and perhaps advance knowledge of the production being undertaken) we basically had the place to ourselves except for individuals in costume.  So, we were able to get some great photographs that might not have been possible if numerous tour groups had been present.

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The entry to Gouzijian Jie (The
Imperial Academy Street) which
houses the Confucius Temple &
Academy Complex
Confucius Temple
A closer view of the
statute of Confucius
Da Cheng Hall
where Confucius was enshrined
and worshipped
The interior of Da Cheng Hall
(with an actor in the foreground)
A ceremonial drum in the Hall
Stone Tablets in the Grounds
A layout of the Confucius Temple &
Academy displayed in the Museum
A statute of three wise men
joined by a fourth one
This is a compilation of 24 Filial
Exemplars Screens
depicting folk stories
A closer view of two
of the 24 Exemplar Screens
Roof lines in the complex
A few of one of the many
beautiful buildings within the complex
Actors in traditional costume

[ T O P ]

After spending the afternoon exploring the Temple of Confucius, we once again returned to the metro and returned back to the hotel.  While the metro was crowded, it was not maniacal as it had been during our 2011 experience in Beijing.  That being said, we knew that we would have to plan carefully to make sure we enjoyed the balance of our time in Beijing this year.

In the evening, we again enjoyed some great food at the Executive Club along with our relaxing vodka and tonic al’Ruggiero (that is, ordering the vodka straight up and then adding tonic afterwards to obtain a decent drink).  Then, it was time to return to our room and do some planning for tomorrow’s touring.

Friday, 28 September:  When we woke up, it was an absolutely gorgeous day with beautiful blue skies in Beijing.  The previous day’s storms had cleared the pollution which is normally present as well as reduced the temperatures such that is was actually quite cool.  We began our day by enjoying another leisurely breakfast.  We especially enjoyed our noodle soup since it was truly “comfort food” on a cool morning.  Afterwards, it was time to do some new touring.

Today we decided to explore “Five Pagoda Temple” which is also known as Wuta Temple.  We also learned that is previously was known as Zhenjue Temple (now, that can be confusing).  Finally, the Temple – a Buddhist temple which is no longer active – also houses the Beijing Stone Carving Art Museum.  We rode the metro away from the city center (again, to avoid the growing crowds) and found ourselves in a very quiet neighborhood.  We walked along the Change River until we found the Temple Complex, about one-half mile from the metro exit.

Wow, it was amazing!  The Temple is built in a style that to us is reminiscent of the temples of India.  The Temple (originally completed in 1473) has been partially restored, with the main Temple Building being totally rebuilt.  It consists of a worship area adorned with five pagodas – four of stone and one of ceramic.  The Temple walls are adorned with various figurines along the bottom and above these are Buddhas sitting in various positions.  It is truly beautiful!  Inside the Temple building are various statutes of Buddha but no incense burning or worship is undertaken.

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En route to Five Pagoda Temple
along the Change River
A front view of the Temple
A view of the back of the Temple
A side view of the Temple
The elaborately detailed exterior
Temple walls depicting Buddha
A closer view of the carved
exterior walls of the Temple
Close-up of a very detailed Buddha carving
A Buddha inside the Temple
Another adorned Buddha inside
Five Pagoda Temple

In the courtyard which surrounds the Temple are many of the stone carvings which comprise the Beijing Stone Art Museum.  They are from a variety of sources and have been collected at this location to ensure their preservation.  They varied in age and many of them continue to be in excellent condition.  We were surprised to see an area dedicated to Jesuits who came to China and ultimately died here.

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A carved lion
A camel made it into the collection
This is an intricately carved base
Another intricate carving
Lindy standing among the many
large carvings
Another collection of carvings
How about these guardians?
Confucius and Wise Men
Information about the Jesuit
presence in China
A stone dedicated to a Jesuit
with both Chinese characters
and Latin inscriptions

In addition to this collection, there was a series of carvings which were kept indoors.  They included many beautiful carvings.  We particularly were impressed by a carving from Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534) that has been beautifully restored as part of the Museum collection.

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Sakyamuni Buddha from the late
Tang (618-907) and Liao
Dynasties (907-1225)
Standing Statute of Buddha
(Northern Dynasties 386-581)
Petal Shaped Buddha Seat
Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368)
Restored Statute of Taihe of the
Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534)
Columns leading to a coffin
chamber of the Tom of Qin
Jun (Eastern Han Dynasty)

[ T O P ]

We spent our day at this lovely setting and returned to the hotel mid-afternoon.  Now, all lines on the metro were very crowded as Beijing continues to swell due to the growing number of tourists, most of which are Chinese.  We had no difficulties returning back to the hotel; you just had to put up with the pushing and pressing of the masses.  After we cleaned up a bit, we once again went to the Executive Club for Diet Coke since the day had warmed up quickly and we were both very thirsty.

Then, it was back to our room for paperwork and other business until we returned back to the Club for happy hour and snacks.  Given that most business professionals were home (or in transit home for the holidays), we had the place to ourselves.  Again, it was very enjoyable.

Saturday, 29 September:   We woke up to another beautiful day so we went to breakfast a bit earlier.  Again, it was delicious!  We then set out on touring despite knowing that the metro was likely to be crowded due to tomorrow’s Mid-Autumn Festival.  Since it backs up to the National Day Holidays (which begin on October 1), there is no doubt that Beijing will be packed.

We worked out a metro route to the Big Bell Temple.  It only took one transit on the metro (from line 2 to line 13) which was nice; however, the transit area was very, very crowded due to its proximity to one of Beijing’s railroad stations.  Obviously, however, we made our way through it and arrived at our destination metro.  Once there, it was an easy walk to the Big Bell Temple. Unfortunately, when we arrived there we ultimately discovered that it was closed.  We asked some young Chinese tourists if they knew why and they did not.  So, the Temple will have to wait for another visit.

To make good use of our time (and not to wander too far on the metro), we choose instead to do shopping at a nearby mall.  It was somewhat crowded but not too bad.  Many shoppers were purchasing “Moon Cakes.”  These are the traditional desserts which are served as part of the Mid-Autumn Festival.  The Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the eight month of the lunar calendar (so this year, that equates to September 30).  The holiday is typically one which Chinese spend celebrating with their families (it kind of reminds us of our Thanksgiving holiday).

In the afternoon we once again braved the metro and returned to our hotel.  The crowds were still there but we didn’t see as many individuals toting luggage.  We assume most had taken earlier trains/flights in order to reach their final destination before the Mid-Autumn Festival begins.

At 6:15PM, we went to the Executive Lounge to once again enjoy delicious, gourmet appetizers provided by the hotel’s Chinese restaurant.  Interestingly, in addition to the dim sum and canapés we enjoyed on previous evenings, this night also included a favorite of ours – egg rolls.  Our hostess, May, and her boyfriend, Jay (who we met one evening when he was working on the Executive Floor) presented us with Moon Cakes for the holiday.  We were very flattered to be included in their celebration as both have the day off tomorrow.

Sunday, 30 September:  Happy Mid-Autumn Day!  Today was one that most Chinese spend enjoying time with family – somewhat similar to our Thanksgiving – when a meal is shared followed by sweets (i.e, Moon Cakes).  Our day began with a wonderful breakfast.  Then, we had to catch up on some business work so we did so while enjoying the Executive Club.  Afterwards, we debated on going out but decided we had best spend our final day repacking for travel tomorrow, finishing business work, etc. so we returned to our room.

At 5:00PM, we returned to the Club to enjoy a cold beer and give our best to Beryl, another hostess at the Executive Club.  Due to the Mid-Autumn holiday, the Club was closing at 5:30PM.  So, after our beer, we went to the Oasis Café – our substitute location for happy hour and snacks.  We enjoyed gin & tonic as well as an appetizer off the menu.  Then, it was time to prepare to call it a night which we did after giving everyone our best wishes for the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations we knew they would enjoy after getting off work.

Monday, 1 October:  Again, we had another travel day off to a new destination - Hefei.  We left Beijing at 12:25PM and arrived in Hefei at 2:15PM. We collected our luggage and stopped by an information booth to inquire as to what the taxi fare should be into town and, in particular, to The Holiday Inn.  Then, we walked to the taxi queue and into a waiting taxi.  Interestingly, the taxi was pretty small so the driver stood our baggage up in the trunk and left the trunk open.  Hey, it worked but we both kept an eye out to make sure neither bag bounced out onto the expressway.

We arrived at the hotel in about 20 minutes and it was refreshing to have an honest driver who used the meter.  He was very surprised when Ed tipped him and he tried to give the 5CNY note back.  However, using sign language Ed tried to explain how nice we thought he had been and how we wanted him to have the additional fare.  Eventually, the driver accepted our tip.  Once at the hotel, we were checked-in and again, upgraded to a beautiful two room suite.  Again, it was very, very spacious and offered great views of the City.  We went down to the Executive Club (we were on the 27th floor; the Club is on the 4th floor) and enjoyed a cold Diet Coke.  There we met our hostess for the day/evening, Yuanyuan.  After cooling off a bit, we got settled into our room.

At 6:00PM, we went to the Club for happy hour and snacks.  Yuanyuan was there and she had an associate, Randy, from the hotel’s restaurant.  Since very few guests were using the Club during the National Holidays, instead of having their normal buffet, we were offered a menu from which to choose a variety of evening snacks.  So, we enjoyed dim sum, egg rolls and finger sandwiches.  While these were being prepared, Ed made us a gin & tonic (the Club has its own bar – top end liquors and mixers) under the watchful eyes of Yuanyuan and Randy.  They each wanted to know how to make the drink and they also had Ed explain what the other liquors were and what kind of drinks are made from them.  While beer is common, alcoholic drinks are still a bit unusual in this part of China.

Randy returned to the restaurant while Yuanyuan spent the balance of the happy hour chatting with us and practicing her English.  No other guests arrived so we had our own private club.  At 7:30PM, the Assistant Manager who had checked us into the hotel stopped by to make sure all was well.  We told her that we had enjoyed a wonderful evening.  Then, we told the ladies “good evening” so that they could finish their nightly paperwork and close for the evening.

Tuesday, 2 October:  We were up early and enjoyed a very leisurely breakfast at Sirocco, the hotel’s buffet restaurant.  We began with delicious noodle soup followed by a variety of other specialties.  Interestingly, the buffet also included peanuts roasted in the shell (we later learned that peanuts are a product of the Anhui province).  Our host, Jack, asked us during breakfast if we enjoyed fruit and/or sweets.  We told him that we did and about five minutes after we returned to our room after breakfast, Jack appeared with a dish of fruit as well as a dish of cookies.  Wow, talk about some great service and going the extra mile!

Afterwards, we took a short walk and we enjoyed the balance of the day at Lord Bao’s Park.  Bao Zheng (999-1062) was born in an aristocratic family and he became one of the best known officials in China.  In fact, Lord Bao is known as one of the four greatest high-ranking officals (the others being Ji An (Han Dynasty); Wei Zheng (Tang Dynasty); and Hai Rui (Ming Dynasty) – none of whom are known to us but are known by many Chinese).  His status was based on his honesty and the fair delivery of justice to all individuals – both wealthy and everyday citizens.

We began our explorations at a Tower located in the park.  We were able to go up five stories into the Tower (it felt like ten since it took two flights of stairs to reach each floor).  From there, we were able to see the beautiful grounds as well as a lake and the Baohe River.

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The entry to the park with
Qingfeng Tower in the background
Qingfeng Tower
A side building near the Tower
This wooden relief is called "Ode
to Purified Wood" and features
Lord Bao in the center
Looking down from Qingfeng Tower
A beautiful screen featuring three
famous mountains in Anhui province,
Huangshan, Jiuhua and Qiyan
A display of instruments

Afterwards we went to the Tomb of Lord Bao.  It, like many tombs belonging to royalty and/or rich individuals, was built underground.  We had to walk down a passageway to reach the burial chamber.  The remains of Lord Bao are kept there in a wooden box similar to a coffin.

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A screen for the Tomb of Lord Bao
The sacred way to the TomB
A sacrificial hall outside the Tomb
Beautiful bonsai trees
A monument outside Lord Bao's Tomb
A tunnel to the coffin chamber
Lord Bao's coffin

After walking through the grounds and taking some final photographs, we walked back to the Holiday Inn.  It’s location makes it great for touring so many things in the immediate area.  Upon our return to the hotel, we stopped at the club for a Diet Coke.  Afterwards, we went to our room to drop off our things and then we returned downstairs for a lesson in making and enjoying green tea.

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A bridge in the gardens
The Holiday Inn Downtown Hefei,
just beyond Lord Bao's Park

[ T O P ]

Yuanyuan prepared three cups of green tea using three expensive loose-leaf teas which are supplied for the Executive Club by the Holiday Inn.  She then placed them on the table and we enjoyed a “blind tasting” – that is, Yuanyuan knew which tea was which but we didn’t so that we couldn’t be biased by label or cost.  We each tasted the three teas and then tasted them again and again in different sequences.  Ultimately, we each selected our favorite and (no surprise) we choose the same one.  It was not the most expensive tea (neither one of us liked its aroma) but instead it was the 2nd most expensive.  It had great flavor and a great nose to us “beginners.”  The least expensive tea just wasn’t strong enough.  So, it was a fun and interesting way to sleuth out the type of green tea we favored.

After our “tea lesson” we returned upstairs to work on some business items, etc. until happy hour (6:00PM).  We got downstairs at about 6:15PM and again we had the place to ourselves.  Yuanyuan was working alone so again we got to chat with her for the entire evening.  Ultimately, she made a final cocktail for us and, while she had studied Ed making a drink, it was a bit of a doozey in terms of alcohol.  Hey, it was the perfect way to ensure a great night’s sleep.  We left the Club at about 8:00PM and stayed in for the balance of the evening.

Wednesday, 3 October:  We once again enjoyed a delicious breakfast.  Again Jack came to our room afterwards with more fruit and cookies.  Mid-morning we decided to try to find Bao Temple – located on this side of the Lord Bao Park – but without success.  So, when you get lemons, you make lemonade.  Since we were directly across from the Wanda Plaza, a well-known shopping mall found throughout China, we spent time wandering among the stores and window shopping.  All of the Wanda Plaza malls have a Wal-Mart in them so we also made a visit there.

We again enjoyed a cold Diet Coke upon our return to the hotel.  We spent the balance of the afternoon catching up on business, watching movies, etc.  We went down to the Club for happy hour at 6:00PM.  Our hostess was “Coney,” an associate of Yuanyuan. 

Thursday, 4 October:  We had an early breakfast this morning in anticipation of meeting Yuanyuan at 10:00AM for some touring followed by a late lunch.  She had offered to be our guide and take us to many tourist spots in Hefei on her day off.  About 9:45AM we were in the hotel lobby.  Yuanyuan walked in a few minutes before 10:00AM.  However, she appeared from outside the building yet we knew that she lived in a dormitory in the hotel.  We then learned that there is a separate entrance for employees and that’s why we didn’t see her using the elevators that we used.

We exchanged greetings and promptly began our tour.  The first stop we made was at Peace Square which is just a couple of blocks from the hotel.  There was a sculpture dedicated to world peace.  Also, there was a beautiful copper relief on a concrete wall.  After taking a few photographs, we then went on a long walk to Xian Jin Park.  Since it was still the National Days holiday, the park was very crowded.  We walked through various areas which included a beautiful pavilion and a small tower set on a small lake.  Lots of people had rented small boats and were enjoying the water.  Others had fun feeding some resident fish.  Instead of the fish food pellets we have often seen used, these fish were feed a liquid solution using a baby bottle that was on a stick.  The fish actually sucked the bottle to extract the food.  Amazing!  We also went by a small amusement park where lots of kids were enjoying the rides, games, etc.

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Peace Square
Lindy and Yuanyuan at Xian Jin Park
A tower in the park

From the park, we went to Huaian Pedestrian Street (aka Huaihe Road).  It is a shopping area with a Parkson Shopping Mall at the beginning.  The balance of the stores on the street were small and there were also lots of street vendors.  Sitting amongst the stores was a beautiful Buddhist Temple, Mingjiao Temple.  The original temple had been destroyed over the years and was rebuilt in the Qing Dynasty (~1886).  It houses numerous statues of Buddha and it had some active Buddhist priests, one of whom stopped to talk with us.  In Hefei, Westerners are still an oddity.

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A balloon vendor on the
very busy Huaian Pedway
Mingjiao Temple
Ed and Yuanyuan near the
incense burner at Mingjaio Temple

As we continued a bit further on Huaihe Road, we next stopped at the former residence of Li Hong Zhang.  He was born an ordinary citizen but became an important civil and military leader.  He also promoted ties with the West.  The residence was very large and beautiful.  Again, it too is surrounded by numerous stores.

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An intricate wall within
the Li Hong Zhang residence
An initial sitting area
A beautiful screen sitting in the corner
A bedroom
Lindy and Yuanyuan at the
back of the Li Hong Zhang residence

When we left Li Hong Zhang’s residence, the walking street was really jammed with individuals enjoying the afternoon.  At this point, Yuanyuan suggested that we go for lunch at a shop near the Holiday Inn.  So we made the trek back and went to a small restaurant (eight tables) which featured hot & spicy food.  Yuanyuan ordered two dishes for us to share – one a fish dish; the other a chicken dish.  Both were delicious and very hot & spicy so they were perfect to enjoy with sticky rice.  As we ate, the restaurant owner spoke with Yuan, Yuan who translated for us.  It was a very enjoyable lunch and the perfect way to finish our day of touring.

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Ed and Yuanyuan enjoying lunch

[ T O P ]

After lunch we all returned to the Holiday Inn.  We thanked Yuanyuan for a wonderful, wonderful day with our own “private guide.”  We then went upstairs to our room, stopping en route to drink a Coke Zero after eating the spicy food.  Then we relaxed until it was time for happy hour.  This evening we didn’t need any food from the hotel’s kitchen; we were still full from lunch.  However, we especially enjoyed our thirst quenching gin & tonic.  We went over the wonderful sights we enjoyed during the day and relaxed before calling it an evening.

Friday, 5 October/Saturday, 6 October:  Well, we combined our diary for these two days because we did what all good tourists do on both of them….  Shop, shop, shop.  We returned to various shopping areas in town, especially Wanda Plaza to do lots of window shopping.  Our only buying was done at WalMart.  We wanted to give some small gifts to the wonderful individuals we interacted with at Holiday Inn Hefei.  After spending several hours trying to locate wrapping paper and/or gift bags without success (and this involved some local Chinese trying to help us in the store), we settled upon making a gift package out of some small clear, plastic dishes that we could cover in saran wrap.  Then, we purchased lots of individually-wrapped American chocolates – Dove bars, M&Ms and Mentos.  Once we returned to the hotel, we made packages for the staff of the Executive Club, Mr. Li (Manager of Sirocco Restaurant) and several for the staff/chefs of Sirocco.  We had great fun delivering these and we were especially glad we did so because on the last night of our stay, Mr. Li arrived at our door with three packages of Chinese candy he and his girlfriend, Elena, had purchased as a farewell gift for us.  Hey, it appears we all had a great time interacting with one another!

Sunday, 7 October:  It was once again time to travel after spending six wonderful nights in Hefei.  After checking out, we took a taxi to the Hefei airport.  There, it took a few tries, but we eventually found the correct line to check-in for our flights to Guangzhou and then, our ultimate destination, Guilin.

We arrived in Guilin at about 3:30PM.  After collecting our luggage, we took an airport bus into town.  The buses were very, very crowded and we actually missed getting onto the first bus.  However, when the second bus arrived about five minutes later, Lindy scrambled on board to get seats while Ed battled getting luggage into the baggage storage compartment.  We accomplished both tasks successfully and we headed into town at about 4:00PM.  We got off at the bus’ final stop – the Aviation Hotel – at about 5:00PM.  There Ed had to negotiate a fare with a cab driver to get us to The Sheraton on the Li River.  The ride was quick and we were checking in before 5:30PM.  We then went to our room – not a suite this time but a large, lovely room with a balcony and view of the Li River (while Ed isn’t a Platinum member of the SPG program, he still has some clout).  A basket of fruit and cookies were already waiting in the room.  We cleaned up a bit and then went to the Club Lounge on the Seventh Floor.  The Lounge has both an indoor and outdoor seating area.  Happy hour began at 6:00PM so our timing was perfect.  We sat outside and watched the sunset over the Li River.  It was a great way to unwind while enjoying some delicious snacks and a gin & tonic after a long travel day.

Monday, 8 October:  We didn’t get an early start but instead had a somewhat leisurely morning.  We went to breakfast at 8:30AM and the chefs/staff took great care of us.  We enjoyed another wonderful noodle soup followed by great dim sum.  Afterwards, we each enjoyed some more traditional Chinese fare before finishing our meal with freshly baked banana bread.  We’ve come to learn that banana bread is particularly good here in China.

Our first day of touring was spent walking in a district near the hotel.  First, we went to the City Square.  Afterwards, we walked through a residential neighborhood.  We’re definitely back in the land of Western tourists as we didn’t get a second look or any requests for photographs.  We wanted to reach one of Guilin’s ancient city gates and, to find it, we had to ask for directions many times using a tourist map (written in both Chinese & English).  Ultimately, success!  The gate was very beautiful!!  Also, a “lake area” near the gate has been developed into a beautiful walking path.  There are four lakes (Malong Lake, Gui Lake, Banyan Lake and Fir Lake) with Malong Lake being the only one which connects to the Li River.  The lakes closest to the ancient gate are Banyan Lake and Fir Lake.  We walked along the pathway by those lakes and enjoyed taking photographs of the beautiful bridges and pagodas built along the shore and/or on islands.  One highlight on Fir Lake was two twin pagodas sitting in the middle of the lake.  They were very beautiful.

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Guilin's City Square
An ancient gate to the city
A lovely bridge
A pavilion extending
over the water
Two bridges captured in
one photograph
Ed holding up this sculpture
This pagoda resembles a ship's
bow extending into the water
Twin pagodas

[ T O P ]

After exploring this area, we returned back to the street on which The Sheraton is located and we walked along the Li River until reaching the hotel.  Then, it was time to cool off (it was a hot & humid day) and relax.  We stopped by the Club Lounge to enjoy a cold Diet Coke over ice.  Then, we did a bit of paperwork, downloaded photos, etc. until it was time to return for our roof-top happy hour.

Tuesday, 9 October:  We once again enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before heading out for the day.  Originally, we had planned to visit Elephant Hill Park.  We walked along the Li River until we reached the park’s entrance.  However, once we arrived, we decided not to pay the 75RMB per person entry fee.  Basically, the “park” is a Disney-type operation.  The key focus is a karst rock formation which resembles an elephant that has its trunk emerged in the Li River as it takes a drink.  Then, all sorts of touristy items have been built around it, including pavilions, walkways, etc.  So, it wasn’t the sort of place we had envisioned or which we experienced on our prior visit to Guilin in 1983.  In other words, it was a big disappointment.

Afterwards, we went back through to the Fir Lake area to again enjoy the beautiful lake setting.  When we finished relaxing there, it was time to return to The Sheraton for a cold beverage.  We spent a few hours catching up on business and then we returned to the Executive Club for snacks and happy hour.  However, we didn’t sit outside as it was a bit windy but instead we enjoyed the interior room.  Our hostess, Ricky, said it was likely the beginning of Fall in Guilin.

Wednesday, 10 October:  We got up a bit earlier this morning as Lindy wanted to “Skype” with Torchy.  Success was had for the 2nd time as they were able to chat using the computer (and Ed joined in too) to catch up on happenings with one another.  So, we again were at breakfast at about 8:30AM.  Interestingly, at that time of morning there were only two or three other tables occupied.  However, when we peaked out over the balcony at about 7:30AM, the place was jammed and a pianist was playing on the piano located in the center of the restaurant.  While the music was nice, it’s better to go a little late and not fight the crowds.

After finishing breakfast, we returned to the Li River but decided to walk north of the hotel along its shore.  En route, we passed several groups of individuals – both men and women – doing line dancing and also doing some couples dancing.  This was taken very seriously in that individuals were dressed to the hilt and most of the females were wearing dance shoes.  Of course, we had to stop and watch for a while.

As we continued further along the river, we came across Fubo Hill.  Again, this site has been turned into another Disney-type attraction with a pricey entry fee.  The hill features a pagoda on the top for viewing but given the fog in the city this time of year, the views were minimal.  We continued walking north and came to Deicai Hill.  And, guess what?  Another disappointment!  It’s amazing that a single karst hill can be turned into an amusement park which offers very little for a tourist to enjoy.  After walking the great distance to the Deicai Hill, we turned back to the south.  This time as we approached the Jiefing Road bridge, we turned inland and came to the walls of a former Ming Prince mansion.  It too offers views from a karst formation but we thought there might be some history there too.  However, before paying the 78RMB per person fee in hopes of seeing something that wasn’t Disney-like, we decided we would do some research online.  Besides, it was now early afternoon and we were pretty well walked-out.

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Diecai Hill
Entry to Ming Prince Mansion
Gate leading to Ming Prince Mansion

[ T O P ]

 We continued back to The Sheraton and stopped by the Club to cool-off and have a cold beverage.  We returned to our room and relaxed until it was time to return to the Club for a cold cocktail and snacks.  As we were relaxing, we both admitted that we had higher expectations for touring in Guilin and we were both disappointed.  This was probably compounded by having three different individuals approach us to “visit their sister’s tea shop” and look at their art work, especially since each was an “art professor” who would soon be going to California.  Hey, if you’re gonna work a scam, you should learn not to use the same ones, especially in front of the same hotel.  Oh well!

Thursday, 11 October:  On this our final day of touring in Guilin, we decided to return to the four lakes area after we finished breakfast.  Today we visited Gui Lake and Mulong Lake.  Both were beautiful and had lots of shady trails from which to enjoy the lake/river setting.  There were many other individuals enjoying the area and taking photographs too.  We weren’t the only ones who grew tired of costly entry fees.

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Gui Lake
A pagoda on Gui Lake
Lindy's handsome husband!
Look at the roots of that tree
A view of Mulong Lake

After spending the morning in this area, we decided to explore a bit of town.  Luckily, we came across a central market area that was set-up on a covered pedestrian way.  Most of the vendors were selling food products and there was amazing variety of products.  Fresh produce and fruits were sold by numerous vendors.  Then, there was a meat market which various butchers selling all sorts of meats (and bones).  Next came the area with eggs and live chickens.  Finally, we came across the fish market which included all sorts of fish plus items like live frogs and turtles – some favorite Chinese dishes are made with the latter.  

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Various stalls and restaurants
The produce area of the market
Here's where you get fresh fish
Live chickens & other fowl

[ T O P ]

When we left this area, we entered a shopping mall.  It was made up of primarily small stores rather than large department stores.  We wandered a bit through it since it was air-conditioned and a bit of a reprieve from the city streets.  Ultimately, we returned to the city square.  It was now hot and the square was deserted.  We made our way across it and back to The Sheraton.  Then, we spent the balance of the afternoon repacking in anticipation of an early morning departure.  We enjoyed a final happy hour upstairs and expressed our appreciation to the staff for the hospitality they had extended to us during our stay.  Then, it was time to get some rest before our return tomorrow to Guangzhou.

We spent two nights in Guangzhou – basically relaxing – and then we took the train back to Hong Kong to spend a night before continuing to our next destination, Malaysia.

[ Next, on to MALAYSIA ]