Guilin, it’s just one of the many cities in China with over a million inhabitants that you have probably never heard of. It’s also the first real stop for us in China (we spent a night in
Guangzhou – formerly known as Canton – but that doesn’t really count as we were just there long enough to sleep). It’s also the first time in our almost five month trip that we haven’t been in a former British Colony. It’s something we’ve caught ourselves on a few times already. I wonder who built that tunnel? Oh, of course, the Chinese!
Guilin is located in Southwestern China, if you look at a map, it’s in the bulge just above Vietnam. It’s known all over for it’s fantastic landscape. And I do mean fantastic, it looks like something straight out of the imagination of Tolkien. It’s covered in a mist most of the day and there are huge limestone towers a few hundred meters high all over the place. The place is very green, with Bamboo and Banyan trees all over. As if that weren’t enough, huge caves have been carved out of the limestone. It’s one of the strangest landscapes we’ve seen on our travels yet.
The Southwest is populated by a large number of Ethnic minorities (AKA – Not Han Chinese) and Guilin is kind of the center of things for them. One thing I will say for these folks, they will eat anything! A look at a menu in Southwest China, or a stroll through a market is …enlightening. So far we have seen every kind of meat you can image and many you wouldn’t want to: rats, snakes, eels, pigeon, snakes, frogs, turtles, day old pigs on a skewer. It is all eaten, and the locals claim it is all delicious! For a pair of vegetarians it can make dining out a bit troublesome, but we aren’t complaining.