After my oh so exciting first sleep on mainland China, I was up bright and early for my first day in Guilin. I could not have been more excited. I went outside to stare at the Li River from behind my hostel.
From here I went walking around the streets near my hostel. Just about instantly, I met Jerry. Jerry is a tour guide who offered me lots of options for tours to take in and around Guilin. I was not interested in any of them, since I already had everything planned out before I left home. I ran into him regularly for the rest of my trip. At some point a couple of days later, I was pretty far away from my hotel just walking around and I hear “HELLO JENNIFER!” being yelled at me from across the street. Oh hello Jerry.
I stopped at a store to buy some bottled iced coffee to bring back to my room. Once there I accidentally discovered the heaven on Earth that is iced milk tea. I didn’t even know this existed. I thought I had purchased iced coffee. This stuff is so good. I should have kept track of how many bottles of this I drank in the one month I was there. Or maybe I am better off never knowing?
After breakfast, I walked over to Elephant Trunk Hill. This is a rock formation that looks like an elephant taking a drink of water out of the Li River. I have read a few legends about the elephant. All of them involve the Emperor of Heaven stabbing the elephant and leaving it turned to stone. I don’t really like these legends.
Trying to buy a ticket to enter a Chinese park when you do not speak Chinese means you will be pointed in a direction in which you do not see the ticket booth. So instead, will find yourself in a cafe ordering fresh mango juice. It was delicious.
The weather was so gross. Hot and humid. As an added bonus, I sweat more than average Westerners and the Chinese do not seem to sweat at all.
Once inside, I walked around trying to find the elephant. I walked around a path and was just instantly taken back by the beauty that is Guilin. Whenever you tell people you are going to China, they instantly tell you about black skies and smog. They never consider that China also looks like this:
I walked around for a very long time, trying to find the elephant. At some point, I got my first “HELLO!” yelled at me by a man who was borderline giggling. This may have been the first time, but it was most certainly not the last. Chinese people LOVE to yell “HELLO” at Westerners and they are usually all giggly and over excited to do so.
This man told me about his family and how they own banks in America. I really did not know what to say back. I probably should have just asked him where the damn elephant was.
Right past the man is this cave. Although I did not know this at the time, it seems rather obvious in hindsight that THIS is the elephant!
But nope, I do not realize this.
So I keep walking and looking.
I found myself being accidental hiker. I do this all the time. I did not have any intention of hiking to the top of the hill. But I found signs pointing to a scenic spot up top. This is ELEPHANT TRUNK HILL, surely the scenery would be seeing the elephant. Right?
I was so petrified twisting my ankle and falling. Of course, some woman was walking up the stairs in high heels.
I stopped for about fifty pictures, all of the same view, just from higher points.
I finally make it to the top, positive that I will see the elephant. Nope, he is not visible from up here. It is okay, I am at the top. I should have a beautiful view of Guilin from here, right?
I made my way back down, yelled “HELLO” to the “HELLO” guy as I passed him again. I kept walking around until I found a little bridge and crossed it. Wait, is that it? Is that the elephant? IS IT? IS THAT THE ELEPHANT? IT IS! No wonder I could not see him. For the first hour I was looking for him, I was walking around ON him!
That pagoda up top is (a) where I hiked to and saw only trees obstructing my view and (b) according to legend, the sword that was used to kill the poor elephant.
Here is a random bamboo raft with chickens. Yeah I don’t know either.
If you walk past these, you come across what seems like a never ending park full of things like golden dragons, affectionate statues and cute little bridges with elephants on them.
After leaving here, I went back to my hostel and did laundry. Even though there was an actual dryer in the laundry room, it was not hooked up to anything. I later learned that dryers just do not exist in China. Also as an added fun time bonus, the lights went out as I was doing laundry so I just sat in the room in the dark like a weirdo. I scared the crap out of the poor guy who delivers the laundered towels.