My stay at Longji One Art Hotel was perfect. It felt amazing to wake up to the beautiful views of the rice terraces and then go downstairs for breakfast in the dining area, again overlooking the rice terraces. I spent part of my morning reading Anthony Bourdain on the porch, and with the weather being just right, it felt unreal how peaceful life could get in China.
Meanwhile, I overheard the front-desk boy seated in the dining room listening to a CD to practice English—specifically for hospitality, which I found particularly endearing. So this is how he spends his free time, I thought. +1 for self-improvement, especially compared to the lazy city folk who waste away watching live streams of underaged girls on their phones.
The female voice spoke slowly, while the boy sat quietly copying the phrases in his notebook. When I went inside, he immediately turned it off, not realizing I had been there the whole time, then asking if I would like some tea. During my stay, however, our interactions were entirely in Chinese, despite his seeing me interact with my Chinese tour guide in English.
Not surprisingly, breakfast included a slice of tomato and “pancake.”
While eating, I noticed even more photography on the walls and even the ceilings. The hotel name being Longji One Art Hotel, it made sense, and I appreciated the sheer number and thoughtful arrangement, often side-by-side to create a nice mural of framed photography. Along with the locally crafted wood furniture, the whole atmosphere felt refreshingly authentic. I didn’t get a chance to meet the owner—just the front-desk boy and the fantastic cooks—but from the reviews of the place, the photos were taken by the owner. It was nice to see such talent and passion from businesspeople directed into their actual business. #respect
Not wanting to further disrupt the boy’s English learning yet also not wanting to leave the village too early, I decided to hike once more through the terraces, this time leisurely pacing myself and taking more pictures of the gorgeous morning views. Truly, if you’re ever in China, a visit to Guilin and Yangshuo is a must.
After getting my last real meal of the day at a random restaurant near the entrance of the village, by 2 p.m., I hopped onto a small, run-down van that sped down the windy roads back to bus station at the base of the village. Although we arrived a brief 20 minutes later, it wasn’t until 3 when a second van came and the bus finally opened its doors for us and the newcomers.
For 50 RMB, the journey back into Guilin was a long one, and after getting off the bus into the middle of a busy intersection, I then had to call a Didi to take me to the Guilin North Railway Station. Despite the rush-hour traffic, I find that interacting with the drivers always helps pass the time.
After resting in a dreary café and aimlessly walking around the vast but China-dirty train station full of convenience stores that sold unappealing Chinese snacks, it was finally time to board my 7:50 train back to Guangzhou.
Especially after such a slow-paced and calm morning, to spend the rest of my day back in Guilin, which was particularly polluted that day, and to experience the pains of traveling within China exhausted me even more.
By the time I returned to Guangzhou, I was even more anxious for my last week in China—and Asia, for that matter—to pass as quickly as possible.
Next up: My gripes with Travelers Society 😛