Guilin is a lovely small and scenic city by the Li river, surrounded by sharply protruding (and very beautiful) hills. The small lakes (picture) in the middle are surrounded by little walkways along the banks which are shaded by foliage which is mostly made up of 'osmanthus' trees. The Chinese word for these trees is "Gui" and "Lin" means forest - so Guilin means forest of osmanthus trees. It is a very relaxing place and everyone is very friendly.
I've been on a couple of day trips here. Yesterday (Sunday) we cruised down the Li river whilst taking in the fantastic and famous scenery (the picture on a 20 Yuan note is a view from this river). We ended up at Yangshuo where I went on a bamboo raft to watch some cormorant fishing and sit on a water buffalo. The cormorants have been trained for years to catch fish and then return to their owner who pulls it out their mouth. They hold the fish in their throat but can't swallow if it's a big fish because the owner has tied some string around the birds neck, restricting the width of the throat.
On Saturday we went to the Longji rice terraces. Looked around the little village on the hill which had random animals running round the tiny streets. Some guy filmed us as we ate some 'special and unique' rice which tasted the same as any other rice. He was making a documentary about White people eating rice - I think he just wanted to video us trying to use chopsticks. Earlier on we also saw some women with hair down to their feet. These women are part of a minority group called Yao, they don't cut their hair until they get married and then they grow it again (I don't think it's all Yao women who do this - there are over 2 million Yao people in china all living in mountain villages across south China). They have three different hairstyles which indicate whether they are single, married without children, or married with children. We watched them wash their hair in water that has been used to wash rice. Stupid tourists paying money to watch people wash their hair, what an easy way to make money! After the rice terraces we also went to a tea plantation and tried osmanthus flower tea (lady's tea), Jasmine tea and lychee tea, all very nice. We were also given a lesson on how to make perfect tea from a woman in an elegant pink uniform.
Near the city there are also some incredible caves full of stallic tights an stallic mites. Everywhere you go around here is surrounded by fantastic scenery.