Today we left Xi’an, but not before making a stop at the Small Great Goose Pagoda, a Buddhist pagoda originally built in 700 AD (although restored several times). The associated temple no longer functions for religious activities but has become a mini-mall of local handicrafts. The area around the pagoda is now a park, where we saw many locals resting and a few doing Tai Chi. We were there for only about an hour before we headed to the airport and our flight to Guilin.
Guilin is a small city by Chinese standards. There are only about 800,000 people here. The area is noted for its unusual and distinctive landscape, a type of geological formation called Karst, named for a region in Slovenia where it also exists. The characteristics of this landscape are a multitude of vertical hills, some with sheer cliffs. The hills here are clustered around the Li River which winds slowly through the region. Tomorrow we board a cruise boat and float down the Li River to enjoy the scenery. The Chinese people have seen fanciful shapes in these hills so there are many named spots which we will see on our way down the river.
The river cruise ends in a smaller town called Yangshuo. We think we may find some real bargains there on souvenirs. We’ll see.
When we arrived in Guilin, I took a walk behind the hotel on Zhengyang Road, a pedestrian street loaded with shops of all kinds. Some of the cross streets had stalls of people selling other types of trinkets. It was actually nice to see a smaller town for a change, since we’ve spent most of our time in big cities.
We had a traditional Chinese dinner at our hotel this evening. I haven’t said too much about food (except that it’s been great) since we seldom remember what we have eaten — the dishes are all so different and unusual. Here, however, I took a menu and I will list the foods we had:
Diced Chicken and Corn Soup
Barbeque Meat Platter (not like any barbeque I’ve ever had)
Deep Fried Shrimp with Chili and Garlic Sauce
Deep Fried Duck with Mashed Taro
Fresh Sliced Beef with Ginger and Spring Onion
Steamed Li River Fish with Sweet and Sour Sauce (a very strange-looking fish)
Sauteed Broccoli with Mashed Garlic
Sauteed Eggplant with Chili and Garlic Sauce
Fried Rice Noodle "Guilin" Style
Fresh Fruit Platter (this is dessert for the Chinese) – consisted of watermelon, cherry tomatoes, and dragon fruit
Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it? Actually, all the dishes were very good!