Friday, January 30: In the afternoon, after our drive through the kumquat orchards, tea plantations and karsts north of Yangshuo, we arrive in Guilin at our classy hotel, the Guilinyi Royal Palace. We stayed here, if you remember, before we headed to Yangshuo, but at that time we arrived late and departed early, so we didn’t have time to enjoy it. The hotel sits in the midst of Guilin Central Park, the city’s botanical garden, and I want to have time to explore a bit of that before heading back to Nanning.
Sadly it’s just as dreary and dark as the rest of our holiday has been. Still, the grounds of the hotel are lovely with their ponds, bridges, rock sculptures, tropical plants, and traditional buildings with flying eaves. There is a swimming pool on the grounds, which I have never seen in a Chinese hotel, and I tell Mike that one hot summer weekend, I’m going to come back to Guilin and pamper myself.
This is our room from the outside. It’s the one on the left.
We are hungry for lunch, but we decide first to take a walk through the botanical garden on our way to look for lunch outside of the garden. We admire the koi ponds, the pavilions and the tropical plants.
We are feeling rather hungry, and I’m tired of being cold, so we leave the botanical garden and head to what looks like an outdoor shopping mall. We can’t find anyplace to eat in this mall except a McDonald’s, so we stop to grab a bite. Surprisingly, I feel full after scarfing down a fish sandwich and some French fries, and I never even get hungry for any kind of dinner.
Walking back to the garden, Mike takes some photos of Guilin’s streets. They capture the typical Chinese city outside of the touristy spots. It’s nothing special, so I’m long past taking photos of such scenes, but I guess he still finds it interesting.
In the end, we go back to our hotel where I soak for a long time in a hot bath, and then snuggle up under the covers in my pajamas, trying desperately to keep warm. I have been chilled for so many days now, I feel that I’ll never warm up again. We never leave the hotel room for the rest of the night. Both of us are really feeling sick with colds, sore throats and coughs, and we’re in misery.
Saturday, January 31: In the morning, we take the 11:55 a.m. train to Nanning, arriving at Nanning Railway Station around 2:30. By the time we get back to my apartment, it’s well after 3:30. As I always do after a holiday, I immediately unpack and do laundry while Mike relaxes. In the evening, Mike and I go out to one of my favorite pizza places, outside the west gate of the university. I am wearing the gray wool hat you’ve seen in some of my photos, one I’ve had since I lived in Korea. It isn’t until later, when I’m packing for my upcoming trip to Yunnan with Alex, my 23-year-old son, that I realize I must have left the hat in the restaurant. At that time I don’t have time to go look for it. 😦
Sunday, February 1: All day today, Mike and I stay hunkered down in my apartment, as it’s raining and cold in Nanning, just as it was in Guilin. We’re both still sick, so it’s good to have another day of rest. I’m busy packing for my trip to Yunnan, which luckily is forecast to be sunny and in the 60s and 70s (F), with nights dropping into the 50s. This forecast is for the next 10 days at least. 🙂 It’s lucky that Alex’s experience should be an improvement over Mike’s. I still feel sad that Mike had such bad luck with the weather on his holiday.
In the evening, to get us out of my cramped and depressing apartment, I take Mike to my favorite Korean restaurant close to the campus, where we have sizzling oven-proof casserole dishes of bibimbap and delicious potato pancakes. We both find the place quite charming and lively.
Tomorrow morning, Monday, I will take Mike to the Nanning airport for his 11:40 a.m. return flight to Virginia by way of Beijing. He has to check in two hours early, so we’ll arrive there by 9:40. Alex is due to fly into Nanning at 10:55 a.m. It’s so nice that I only have to make one trip to the airport to both drop off Mike and pick up Alex. Mike wonders if they will cross paths, as Mike is getting on the same flight to Beijing that Alex is coming in on. 🙂