Following our therapeutic break in the cafe, we ventured out to go watch the highly recommended 變臉 (face-changing) performance in a Chengdu night market. The area was a total tourist-trap, with street vendors selling all sorts of knickknacks and paddywacks, and they got us good. Curiosity also got the better of us and we got a dish called beggar’s chicken for dinner. The experience made us feel like savages and had us fairly amused, chuckling at each other as we tore apart a whole chicken with gloved hands.
With our mini milk cartons in hand (left out for us by the sweet hostel aunties), we headed to the airport first thing the next morning to catch the flight to our 6th stop, Guilin. When we finally arrived, I was astounded by the scenic landscape, how the hills and mountains surrounded the seemingly tiny city in comparison. Driving by, I felt as though I could reach out and touch the mountains. We spontaneously spent the day on boats, cruising along the river to admire the scenery.
The night time visual was gorgeous, but by the end of it all, my lack of sleep caught up to me. Both Kat and I passed out on the boat, lulled to sleep by the gentle waves.
We arrived to our last-minute booked hostel, Cyan box, which, although had super friendly and helpful receptionists, was one of the worst hostels I’ve ever been in. Damp, sour pillows, smelly sheets, and hairballs in the drains? *shudders*. Kat even ran all the way from the communal shower room to our dorm, riskily donning only her towel. We checked out after one day, opting to spend the following night in a close-by village instead.
Da Zhai Village, an area well known for their beautiful rice paddies, truly did not fail to impress. Although we struggled immensely in finding the right trails to the Golden Buddist peak and Tiantou village (which we prayed had rooms available for us), when we finally found our way, we were rewarded with the most breathtaking view of the rice paddies.
The locals in their traditional wear were either understandably disengaged or charmingly sweet. The old men, even while carrying heavy tools down the mountain, did not hesitate to greet us with a toothless grin and a drawn-out “Ni hao!“, offering their sympathies for our exhaustion, clearly displayed on our faces. Our accommodation within the village was surprisingly more modern than we had imagined, although the squat toilet and moth-infested bathroom gave away the fact that we were in the middle of nowhere. We stayed in the room as little as possible, ignoring the fact that the shower started by itself in the middle of the night and how noises were heard inside the room when there was noone inside.
Following our usual pattern, we got lost on our way to see the famous viewpoint for the sunrise. We eventually arrived, hypnotized by the alluring mist spread out in front of the layers and layers of rice paddies. On our hike down, we had company in the form of a gentle street doggy, reappearing from the bushes each time we thought it had finally given up on the hope of being given food. With our empty pockets, we could only offer it comfort through our guilty tones of speech.
It was also on this hike down that two of us had to abandon our dignity and use the squat toilets to do more than just pee. Let me tell you, never in my life have I tried SO hard to hold it in for 3 days. Needless to say, I failed, even with some intense concentration while waddling down the mountain with clenched cheeks. Talk about a walk of shame that followed afterwards. *sigh*
Driving back to the city of Guilin, we returned to the same restaurant we ate at the first night in Guilin. Possibly as a result of being recognized by the owners, we got huge portions, leaving us rubbing our aching bellies until the rain outside died down enough for our next adventure..