Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Trip to Guilin, Guangxi Province China

From 11 to 18 April, I took a trip to Guangxi Province, concentrating on the cities of Guilin and Yangshuo. Below was my itinerary.

Day 1:   Morning flight from Singapore to Guilin city, taking an airport bus to Yangshuo.  Staying at Durian Space (榴莲间) away from West Street.  In the late afternoon, had a coffee break at Durian Space Cafe (榴莲咖啡座) opened by the inn keeper.  Later took a stroll along West Street (阳朔西街) and had dinner at Chun Ji Restaurant (椿记烧鹅) nearby.  Caught the evening performance of Impressions of Liu San Jie (印象刘三姐) (Yangshuo Day 1)

Day 2:  In the morning, took a bamboo raft ride along the Yulong River  (遇龙江).  Back in Yangshuo,  tasted beer flavoured fish (啤酒鱼), visited Yangshuo Park (阳朔公园), and walking the West Street.  (Yangshuo Day 2)

Taking it easy in Guilin City: Banyan Lake area & Old South Gate

It was our last full touring day in Guilin and we decided to take it nice and easy.  A late breakfast at Shi Ji Noodle Shop along Jie Fang West Road, one of the old eateries in the city (正宗石记老字号米粉店,桂林秀峰区解放西路).

The noodle cost around Y7 per bowl and you pay extra for items like eggs or bean curd.  I prefer this stall to Sou Zi Mi Fen (瘦子米粉) in Yangshuo (see my earlier post), but both are good quality to start with.

Some window shopping later, we navigated toward the Banyan Lake area (榕湖).  As you can see, the city scenery is concentrated around the lake area.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Long Ji Rice Terrace in April (Guangxi Province, China)

I decided to do a day trip to Long Ji (Dragon Bone) Rice Terrace as there wasn't much left to explore in Guilin city.  It was also good opportunity to prepare for a return in future (if any).  It was a 2 hour journey to the main village, from there, another 40 minutes to our destination Da YaoZhai  (大瑶寨)Village.

Lunch upon arrival.....

Lunch was delicious and interesting: bamboo rice, bamboo chicken and salted meat.  It cost Y150 for 2 persons.

We were given tickets to the cable car and were on our own for the trip.  It was a comfortable ride to the top and the good views were good.

The rice terrace would be flooded a few days after our trip and it was unfortunate that we would miss the beautiful sight.  But the sight of the massive rice terrace was still rewarding....

Guilin: Elephant Hill, Jing Jiang Official Residence and afternoon boat ride (Guangxi Province, China)

We decided to stay in the city for the day.  After breakfast at MacDonalds, we walked to the Elephant Hill garden.  I was not too keen to pay Y70 to enter the park as I could see the Elephant Hill from the main road (the park grew trees around the area so that the Elephant Hill was hidden except at some stray locations).  The lady at the hotel tour desk suggested hiring a raft nearby to go near the Elephant Hill (for around Y20 to 30 per person) but I could not find one.

Day Trip to Guan Yan (冠岩) Caves and Gu Dong (古东) Waterfall, Guangxi Province

We had our breakfast in our room and were getting ready to our trip to Crown Cave and Gu Dong Waterfall.   It took sometime for the our coach to pick up all the tourists from the various hotels.  Guan Yan was an hour’s drive from Guilin, and part of the road in April was undergoing upgrading works.

From the car park, we had to wait for the golf cart to bring us to the entrance to the park entrance, and another car to the cave proper.  I was told later that the vehicles were controlled by the minority tribes and the authority could not do much about it.

We descended 30 metres (about 12 stories) down the Guan Yan cave by an elevator and started our journey. As seen in the picture, we could see the view of the caves when going down.  The queue for the elevator was not long on our day of visit.

After wandering the cave for about 15 minutes, we put on life jackets and took a 700 m boat ride in the dark.   Remember to bring a torchlight, but seeing nothing in the dark was another experience too!

A stroll on Guilin Zheng Yang Pedestrian Mall, and doing an evening boat ride

After settling into our hotel, and finally managed to get a mobile phone number,  we strolled along the key pedestrian area of Guilin, Zheng Yang pedestrian street (正阳步行街).

I was scheduled to go on a 2-day tour with a private driver to Zi Yuan  (资源) and Ba Jia Zhai (八角寨) . The person however was trying to pull a fast one but cutting the trip to one day but still charging me the same rate. Feeling annoyed, I cancelled the trip and decided to do day trips from Guilin instead.

Back to Zheng Yang pedestrian street. From the guidebook, this street existed over a thousand years ago, but of course it is now a modern looking shopping area.  Several good restaurants were located in this area and we ate at Ah Gan Restaurant and Macau Restaurant during our stay here.  Of course it was a good place to buy souvenirs and snacks.

We booked a 9:10 pm night cruise along the Lijiang and Tao Huajiang and 4 lakes (两江四湖) .  It cost Y190 but we had a small discount when booked through the hotel travel desk.

This is how the boat looked like.  The seats were generally comfortable, although we had the seats that were facing the other direction.

The cruise offered us an unique view to see the Lijiang and Taohuajiang in a lit-up manner, even the underneath of the bridges were well decorated with paintings or poetry.  It should be relaxing trip if the crowd could observe the peace and quiet, and listening to the guide (in Mandarin)

 Performances at some area, but rather touristy....

On the whole, it was an enjoyable trip and the price was reasonable.   For those who did not want to take the ride, you could still enjoy the night views of the pagodas and the bridges on your own explorations.

Go to Main Page: Guilin Trip 2015

Admiring the 20 Yuan Landscape at Xing Ping Old Town

We had half a day to spend in Yangshuo area, and decided to charter a car (Y200) to Xing Ping (兴坪), less than an hour's drive away.  It was an old town, probably how Yangshuo looked like years ago.  The "ancient" part was in fact small and you could visit it less than half an hour.

The highlight would be the old Chinese opera stage

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Yangshuo Day 2 (II):Tasting Beer-flavoured fish, Visiting Yangshuo Park

Back in Yangshuo for lunch.   Everywhere in Yangshuo, you would see restaurants advertising for Beer Fish (or beer flavored fish 啤酒鱼), and it seems that this is the only dish served in this town. While the internet and guidebook list many well known stalls, our inn keepers recommend a less touristy place, next to the Lao You Tiao (老油条) noodle stall along Fu Rong Road.   We chose Sword Bone Fish (剑骨鱼) for the dish, as the waitress said it had better taste and lesser bones.   The dish turned out well, and together with a bowl of vegetable soup and a beer, the meal cost us around Y175.

It was free entry into Yangshuo Park and frankly, there was nothing much to see.  There were older folks playing cards, ladies doing mass dancing, bad karaoke singing blasted aloud, Caucasians taking tai-chi classes and a small mountain to climb.   There was a commemorative statue on war heroes. 

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Yangshuo Day 2 (I) : Floating along Yu Long River

Buns and soy milk for breakfast near our inn Durian Space.  Transport picked us up for our morning bamboo raft ride along the Yulong River.  The cost was  Y100 each or Y200 per raft (including hotel pickup).

It was 30 minutes drive to the starting point of our trip.  The raft we were on unfortunately did not provide any decent life jackets for us.

Yangshuo: paying homage to Liu San Jie

I took a trip to Guilin (Guangxi Province, China) with my mom in April, and here's my trip experience.

An early 745 am Tiger Air direct flight from Singapore to Guilin.  The weekly flight took about 4 hours to arrive at the Guilin Liangjiang International Airport.  At the airport arrival hall, look out for the Bus Ticket Office counter where you could purchase tickets to Guilin and other destinations.  The ticket to Yangshuo 阳朔 cost Y50 one way.

The bus to Yangshuo ran approximately every two hours.  We had lunch at KFC, about 30 metres from the bus waiting area.

The journey to Yangshuo was pretty scenic and took about 1.5 hours.   The guide on the bus would recommend tour packages to the passengers which I found the prices reasonable.

There was a delay by our hotel trasnport to meet us at the bus station and so we decided to have our first bowl of Guilin noodle by the bus station. More about the noodle later.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Björn Again‘s 25th Anniversary Tour at the MasterCard Theatres, Marina Bay Sands

The ABBA tribute show Björn Again would be returning to Singapore for 3 performances at the MasterCard Theatres.  Celebrating its 25th Anniversary, Björn Again has been delighting audiences worldwide with their action packed performance.   I had the pleasure catching their performance when they last performed here in 2013.  (Bjorn Again 2013)

More on ABBA:
ABBA Museum in Stockholm Sweden

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Review - Tartuffe, Titoudao, Legends of The Southern Arch

I admire Nine Years Theatre's effort in adapting foreign plays into Chinese, and Artistic Director Nelson Chia's focus on grooming actors for the Chinese theatre scene here.  The staging of Tartuffe by French playwright Moliere at the National Museum theatrette was however tame.  Maybe it was the difficulty in the translation, or the cast trying to speak with a posh accent.  The costumes also reminded me of those Chinese theatre productions staged in the 1980s.  It took a while for the cast to feel warm up to the play on the Sunday evening (last performance).  Of the cast, Jalyn Han had the best comic timing as Dorine the maid, and Darius Tan was convincing as the foolish master Orgonl.

The performance got better in the latter half.  I found this performance ok, not as bad as what ST had reported.

Toy Factory restaged its signature piece Titoudao at the Drama Centre in March.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Review: The Ultimate Tribute to Elvis

The songs of Elvis Presley filled the hall of MasterCard Theatres on Tuesday night.  Direct from Vegas, the “Legends in Concert” featuring The Ultimate Tribute to Elvis  performed for the first time in Singapore from 2 April to 5 April 2015.

Featuring the Ultímate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest winners, Bill Cherry (2009), Dean Z (2013) and Jay Dupuis (2014) as the principle cast, the show focused on key stages of Elvis' career: Sun Studios, television shows, movies and soundtracks, Vegas.

Being a tribute show, the mood was more celebratory and the key events were mere background of introducing the songs.

The performers sounded and looked like Elvis, and they took the opportunity to be friendly with the ladies.   Inevitable a lot of the ladies hugged the performers and also received momentos from them. .