Friday, June 26: I have been determined to see the rice terraces one more time before I leave China, but the idea of it has been daunting. The journey takes so long, with numerous transfers and hassles, and I have no more 3-day weekends to spread out the effort it takes to get there. Besides, after fighting hordes of people in Shanghai on the Labor Day holiday in early May, I resolved not to travel on any more holiday weekends in China. Nonetheless, I gather my courage about me and commit to the journey by buying the train tickets and reserving my hotel in Ping’An.
This afternoon, immediately after my classes end at noon, I make haste to the front gate to catch the bus to the train station. After catching the 1:15 p.m. fast train at Nanning Railway Station, I arrive in Guilin at 3:45. I go out to the bus stop on the street directly in front of the Guilin train station, where I take bus 91 to the Qin Tan Bus Station, arriving there at 4:00. Then I take the next local bus at the bus station for Longsheng, telling the ticket agent I want to get off at Heping. When we finally get underway from Qin Tan, it is 4:33.
When I arrive at Heping at 6:15, it’s too late in the day to take the regular bus up to the Ping’An parking lot, so I pay a driver at Heping to take me up the mountain 35 minutes to the Ping’an parking lot. It’s a long and winding road over mountains, and I am finally dropped at the Ping’An parking lot at 6:50. From there, I pay the entrance fee to Ping’An and walk through the gate and up and up and up to the Longji International Youth Hostel, arriving at 7:05.
Even without much delay between the various legs of the trip, it’s a 7 hour trip door to door, as I left the university at noon and arrived slightly after 7:00! Upon arrival, I immediately order a Tsingtao beer and have a seat on the deck of the hostel to watch people scurrying about in the village.
After my beer, I order dinner as I haven’t eaten anything all day. With all the stomach problems I’ve been having in China, I didn’t dare eat anything that might upset my stomach when I had such a long trip ahead of me. I eat some eggs with leeks, and settle in at an early hour, reading my book, The Sandcastle Girls, by Chris Bohjalian.
I have to get plenty of rest because I have a long hike before me tomorrow. I’m so happy to be here once again, because after all the traveling I’ve done in China, I’ve decided the rice terraces are my favorite place.