Tuesday, June 17, 2008

China Day 18: In Which We Kill Time

We were so far ahead of schedule because of our turbocharged trip down the Li River that even our shopping break didn't use up enough time for us to head to the airport yet. Fred made stopgap arrangements: the bus returned us to central Guilin, to a hotel where we could use the facilities and rest in their lobby couches. For our entertainment, we could get reflexology massages for 120 yuan, or we could walk to the nearby riverbank park. I chose the latter, but when I heard how nice the massages were, I kinda wish I'd done that instead. Dad skipped both and napped in the lobby.

I went walking with one of our traveling companions, one of a group of four women traveling together. They always seemed to be having a great time! We walked the short distance to the park and strolled around chatting.

The river park is located on kind of an island between Guilin's two rivers, the Li and the Taohua, and it's very pretty. They had these amusing benches shaped like pigs:
and the main feature was a collection of reproductions of famous bridges. They weren't all Chinese, either. Famous Western bridges
appeared alongside of the local styles:
We saw an ancient, sprawling tree
whose limbs are propped up so they don't come off under their own weight. The park also has its own marble boat (not as big as the one at the Summer Palace in Beijing)
and a long walk on pilings set in the water that undulates side to side as well as going up and down as you cross.
If I remember correctly, Chinese folklore tells that hungry ghosts can't turn corners so they would be unable to cross such a bridge. The bridge terminates at an attractive little tea house in the middle of the water.

After our refreshing break, we got back on the bus for the drive to the airport. We arrived and went straight to dinner at the airport restaurant - someone from Grand Circle must have been frightened by a hungry tourist in his childhood; they feed us at every turn so we never have time to actually work up an appetite. Once again we were the only ones in the restaurant; the Chinese say tourism is way down. It's too bad.

We got through security with no significant trouble - we're pros by this time - but then BAM: we ran into the first flight delay of the whole trip: the plane to Hong Kong was an hour late. Perforce we hung out in the airport;
the airline gave us a packet of lemon biscuits and a bottle of water, so we weren't - Heaven forbid - hungry, and we had the duty-free shop for entertainment:
The airport also provided access to a gift shop selling scroll paintings and chopstick sets:
You wouldn't want someone to be unable to buy one last souvenir, would you?
I made Dad pose:
He thought I was silly.
The other cute thing about the airport was that the bathrooms were under renovation. No Western-style available. Well, they'd given me all that water... I successfully used the squatty potty for the second time on this trip!

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