Cannot find any suitable photos for latest destination until I can download my own, so please ignore them. The computer insists you select one! Hello again. Still feeling groggy after very early start yesterday. Flight from Chengdu to Guilin was uneventual, only taking an hour and fifteen minutes. This was followed by a one and a half hour coach ride (air-conditioned!) through Yangshuo to Chaolong on its outskirts, where we spent one night. The scenery along the way was beautiful - towering limestone karsts and paddy fields with water buffalo and paddling Chinese in their pointed hats. Our guesthouse - Aka's Outside Inn - is made up of a series of old farmhouses in a small rural village, rented from local farmers by a Westerner who travelled in China and decided he wanted to provide accommodation for tourists where they would experience rural China. He rented the farmhouses from local villagers and proceeded to renovate them. I loved my room at first sight - having been in fairly impersonal hotes up til now (apart from the homestay!), this place has character! On the second floor of the farmhouse building, it reminds me of something from colonial South Africa from films I've seen: mud-brick walls; wooden floorboards; a tilted roof of wood-slats and beams; a Chinese lantern; white mosquito nets draped over the bed on swinging bamboo poles; a central fan on the ceiling (no air-con); a low to the floor window with metal bars (so you can leave the windows open all night and keep out intruders); a decorative wood-framed carved mirror; cushions thrown on low beds etc. From the window, I can see only foliage and there is a constant cachophony (?) of noise from the crickets/cicadas. I could even put up with the squat toilet. Due to lots of entrance points to the room through the ceiling, you have to share your room with the various bugs and beasties which live here - unidentifiable flying creatures, small and large spiders, cockroaches, huge centipedes and possibly even rats (my friends next door had a rat trap in their room)! I chased away a large spider before going to bed and woke in the night to hear something scuttling across the floor - I chose not to think about what it might be! Fortunately, the mosquito net which shrouded me in my bed probably helped to keep other visitors out too! This was our chill-out spot - a lazy lunch on the terrace, an afternoon siesta, a drink and a read in the hammock. Took a slow walk in the intense heat along the Li River - beautiful scenery with the karsts looming over the rice fields. It's possible to take a bamboo raft ride down the river but I opted for a swim in it this morning with Nikki - it was so refreshing. We found a safe spot near the weir, where the water runs relatively clean (although a farmer brought his buffalo into the water just as we were emerging and they tiddled in it!). It was so good to cool off in this relentless heat. We left the guesthouse at lunch time today for our hotel in Yangshuo (Morning Sun Hotel) - very nice. Ailsa took us for a quick walk around to get our bearings and here I am, choosing the air-conditioned internet facilities over shopping because it is SO HOT! We have a cycling day tomorrow and I am in turmoil over whether to go or not. It sounds quite leisurely, but I'm worried I will be overcome by the heat. Need to make a decision soon. Plenty to do in the town if I decide to stay behind - shopping, eating and a massage. A little about Yangshuo from the guide book: population is 300,000 and it is in Guangxi province; it is limestone karst country. For centuries Chinese poets and painters have immortalized the region's strange beauty. There are over 20,000 limestone karsts in this county alone; steep tree-covered mounds ranging from 100 to 300m high. They come from when the area was once an ocean over 190 million years ago, following a movement in the earth's crust which pushed the karsts upwards. Yangshuo was one of the first counties in China to be appointed as a natinal tourism area. Each year more than 1.5 million visitors come here. The town caters very well for foreigners and backpackers - plenty of places on the main shopping street (West Street) where you can buy western food. Young students flock here from all over China to learn English so its common to find people eager to talk to you. Tomorrow night we are taking a boat cruise up the scenic Li River with dinner in a restaurant along the way. We leave Yangshuo Wednesday afternoon and arrive in Hong Kong the next day for our final day together. Well, hope that's updated you all. Love to everyone.