Sunday, March 1, 2009

Guilin on wheels

Day one we decided to rent bikes from Backstreet Hostel and tour the sites. Considering I just relearned how to bike this summer, I did an incredible job.

Guilin is an interesting place. It doesn't span much distance and it is relatively country (it's a tier-3 city), but the city itself is bustling, polluted and crowded. At night we even noticed that all the clubs had metal detectors at the entrance - we decided to pass on the nightlife.

Guilin is RULED by bikes. There are huge intersections of two or three multi-laned roads and no traffic lights, but strangely it is not bedlam. The cars drive at the same speed as bikes and motorbikes and everyone seems to get through alive, however miraculously. Almost all the motorbikes were also strangely silent, which was scary when they suddenly appeared next to you. Their silence was completely made up for by the insanely load tractor/van contraptions that filled the streets. It seems the farmers make these three-wheeled vehicles that look like a tuk tuk and a donkey cart mated and the farmer then strapped a tractor engine to its side. They looked like Mater from Cars.

The city is filled with parks and little mountains and is cut by the Li River - that's what this area is known for, the Li River, Lijiang, and these mountains that Jodee called camel humps. I think they looked more like the bent knees of hairy giants.

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