Day 35 The train in to Guilin was late and didn't arrive until 1pm. Once off the train we realised we wern't at the train station we had hoped for. The train station we were at was the north train station and the directions we had were from the central station. We walked over to the tourist information box to see if any of the buses here went to the central station. The box was empty so we stood and waited, two women eventually turned up and one sat at the window we were at, she didn't look at us, picked up a magazine and held it up to her face. Shocked we started saying 'Nihao' (hello) but she just laughed, spoke to her friend in Chinese and said 'no, no'. We wern't going to move, we understand she only spoke limited English but she hadn't even attemped to speak to us. We showed her the map we had pointing at the central bus station and said 'daba' (bus) a few times untill she eventually gave up her rudeness and wrote the number 100 on a peice of paper. We jumped on the number 100 bus and got off at what looked like a train station and made our way to the hostel from there. We dropped our bags and walked back to the train station to book our next set of tickets to Hangzhou. Once in the queue we realised we didn't have enough money so set off to find an ATM. Three ATMs later we managed to get some money and headed back to the train station. Once in the queue again we noticed we didn't have our passports (you can't by tickets without them) Our tiredness from the sleepless night train was starting to show! After a 30 min round trip to the hostel it was third time lucky. With our tickets finally bought we jumped on a bus to the central square. The weather was beautiful, hot and the sun shining, we walked round the square which was a bit of a let down then wandered round the streets nearby. It felt very touristy with many streets full of lovely looking restaurants, cafes and bakerys, all with English menus. We continued to walk towards Seven Stars park, stopping at the river where we sat on the side watching people swim, fish and wash their clothes. It was about 4pm and the sun was starting to sink, the mountains along the lake were so beautiful and we realised why the place was so popular. After sitting a while we walked along to the park but once there we saw the entrance fee was £8 each which wasn't worth it as the sun wasn't far from setting. We managed to find a lovely spot next to the river that over looked the citys famous Sun and Moon pagodas so we sat and watched the sun set. There was a night market starting in town so we walked back along the bridge for a look around, feeling hungry we stopped on the way for a claypot. The pots were filled with rice, egg and some kind of meat they seemed to be pulling out of a black binliner. The meat was like nothing we had tried before, we joked it may have been dog meat but God only knows. Feeling full and freaked out we looked round the night market before heading back to hostel. We sat with a Chinese lad from our room and had a drink before bed.
Day 36 We woke up early and checked out, We had booked a tour with the hostel and the bus was coming for us at 9:30am. There was a big supermarket opposite the hostel so we stocked up on some food for the day and got some breakfast before the pick up. After picking up a few people we were on our way to the Li river for our bamboo raft trip. On the bus the tour guide explained the raft wasn't real bamboo but actually plastic and would be driven by a motor but if we wanted to have a real bamboo raft, a trip to see the water buffalo and feed them and get to see fishermen fishing with cormorant birds we could pay an extra £13 each and do the afternoon tour. We showed interest but decided to leave it as we had already paid quite a bit for the original tour. On the raft the river was beautiful with mountains towering over us, all different shapes and formations. We passed a few of the famous formations which didn't look like anything they were supposed to be such as a brush and nine horses hill. The tour guide came on our raft and because we had shown interest before she tried to get us to sign up the the second tour. We told her it was too expensive and she finally came back to us with a price of £10 each which we felt was a bit better so we agreed. The bus took us to our next destination and after a walk through a small village and a few interesting facts from the tour guide, we were led to the the real bamboo rafts. They were so cute with two chairs, a big sun umberella and a man guiding the boat through the river with just a stick of Bamboo. The river we were on now was the Yulong river and with no pollution from motor boats it was beautifully clear. We saw a fisherman instantly and he put on a show for us with his cormorant birds. They were so fast and so clever working with the fisherman to catch the fish. We glided down the river and it was so peaceful Lloyd even managed a little doze. We got off at an island to feed the water buffalo which was fun, then we were taken to a part of the river that has a mini (30cm) drop which we went down on the raft and was a little bit more scary than we anticipated. After a really lovely relaxing day we were dropped off in Yangshou. We dropped our bags off at the hostel and headed straight back out. The main street was packed you could hardly move, the streets were full of restaurants and fancy bars, we hadn't seen anything like it anywhere else in China. We opted for a modest looking bar with an English menu and ordered a lovely beef in Oyster Sauce, rice, pork noodles, a beer and my first glass of wine of the trip (Great Wall white wine). After polishing it all off and enjoying a game of connect 4 (which Lloyd won) we walked back to the hostel.
Day 37 We hadn't really decided what we wanted to do today so we had a lie-in and a lazy morning. There was a Canadian lad in our room called Corey who we had breakfast with, the three of us decided to hire bikes and cycle to a nearby village. We paid a little extra for mountain bikes as we thought the road would be bumpy and we were on our way. After 10 minutes Lloyd tried to change gear and the chain came off and snapped some kind of plastic shield off - great start. He fixed the chain back on and we were back on track, the road was so dusty we could hardly breath, there were tunnels cutting through mountains we had to cycle through and a lot of traffic on the road so it wasn't enjoyable. My seat was broken and the more bumps I went over the more it fell back making it impossible to ride as I could hardly reach the handlebars and the I felt like I was falling off. To make matters worse even though my bike was smaller it was much heavier than Lloyd and Corey's so I couldn't keep, especially up the hills. Lloyd saw I was struggling and came to my rescue and swapped bikes with me. We made it to a village called Fuli and found it to be a bit disappointing at first with just falling down buildings and dusty roads. We decided to cycle in to the village to see what we could find. We passed a market so stopped to have a look around, we were hungry so stopped for hotpot. The lady spoke no English but presented us with tray of all types of meat from brain and liver to what looked like pork and beef, we pointed at the safer looking meat and she gave us loads of what we asked for and even more of what we didn't and a massive plate of veg too. We got stuck in piling meat and veg in to the bubbling pot and adding it to our rice once it was cooked - delicious!! We got back on our bikes and it wasn't long until we found some lovely little streets to cycle down full of art galleries, people painting and handmade fans of all sizes, wish we had loads of money to buy all the beautiful things! We saw a rice wine factory which consisted of a woman making the wine on her own, she gave us a taste and it was lovely so sweet and warm (probably still fermenting)! We cycled towards the river, crossed a small bridge which lead us on to a field full of water buffalo then headed through a few farmers fields to the other side of the river away from the village and the boats. We tied up our bikes and walked along the river side to a more peaceful spot. The mountains were so beautiful and river so clear, we sat there for half an hour before heading back. Lloyd got so sick of the bike we stopped at a mechanics and they tightened up the screws on the bike seat and I got back on my own bike. Once back we handed over our bikes and headed down to the river, Lloyd and Corey got in for a swim and I dipped my feet in, it was so clear and full of tiny fish. Me and Lloyd headed in to the town centre for food deciding on a gorgeous plate of beer duck, curried potatoes and some rice. Lloyd had a doughnut the night before that we watched being fried, dipped in chocolate and nuts and served pipping hot, as I hate doughnuts I didn't bother but once I tasted it I fell in love, it was delicious, so we went to get one after the meal and went back to the hostel as it was getting late.
Day 38 We packed our bags and said goodbye to Corey who left early. There was an English breakfast on the menu that was really cheap so we caved and thought it would set us up for the day. After our eggs, bacon, toast and coffee we headed for the 2 hour bus back to Guillin. We bought some noodles and goodies from the super market, grabbed some street food (a pancake with egg and some kind of pickled veg filling and a boiled egg each) then we boarded out 18 hour train to Hangzhou.