Day 8: Gondolas, Buses and Learning to Accept Being Stinky

Light rain over the mountain rice terraces

Light rain over the mountain rice terraces

Friday, April 19 – Dazhai


Had at least four nightmares last night, when I finally did fall asleep. Twice I fell down stone steps. In another dream I was in a city square and then a pregnant Chinese woman with long hair was getting in my face and screaming at me. And these damn hard beds!

But pigging out at breakfast elevated my mood. Huge bowls of noodle soup and big, sweet pancakes. They attempted to mimic American pancakes and thankfully they did not succeed, because these are superior to anything in a Denny’s. All delicious, and all for 30 RMB (5 USD) total.

Yao women outside our hotel in Dazhai

Yao women outside our hotel in Dazhai

Yao women and a little shop

Yao women and a little shop


We hiked up Buddha’s Peak after breakfast, where the gondolas start. I don’t think anyone remembers why it’s even called Buddha’s Peak. The gondola is 60 RMB (10 USD) for one-way tickets down. Rice terraces as far as the eyes can see, and mountains wrapped around them! Pockets of forest and meadow. The pine trees do indeed look like what you see in the brush paintings in museums here.

We took the hard way up so we deserve to take the easy way down

We took the hard way up so we deserve to take the easy way down

After the gondolas dropped us off at the parking lot and the gates of the city ā€“ and after Yao women swarmed me to buy embroidered wallets ā€“ we caught a minivan to Guilin. It was the most-packed bus we’ve been in. There we are, packed like sardines, and I’m wearing a shirt I’ve gotten sweaty a second time around and my hair is still damp with sweat because it’s so goddamn humid. I’m sure I stank. Not comfortable.

Then we stopped to pee but I couldn’t really figure how exactly how I was supposed to squat over the odd trench and the stalls had no doors. I tried my best but I’m sure I looked like I was having a seizure. Lovely.

The bus from Guilin back to Yangshuo was a bit bigger and air-conditioned, but we were still squished. However, on neither trip was I fearing for my life like on the way here with that maniac having his own personal karaoke hour.


When we got back to Yangshuo, we followed Frank’s advice and headed straight to the convenient city tourism office to book our flight back to Shanghai for Sunday and our river cruise tickets for tomorrow. As usual, the daily, scalding shower was a saving grace.

We had dinner at Pure Lotus, the vegetarian place I’d seen when we first arrived here. It was good, but not great. After dinner, we went for drinks on a second floor terrace at Lucy’s Cafe so we could see the Friday night crush. I would be up for going to a club, but when I mention it Chris and Frank either give me tired looks or violently skeptical looks.

Fresh bamboo shoots

Fresh bamboo shoots

Actually feel a bit drunk. Whee!

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