I really liked the city of Xian. The people I ran into were so nice and friendly. There was so much to see and do that I hope one day I can return, but know in the back of my mind that will not happen.
We ate breakfast at the hotel. I had the American breakfast. Eggs and toast never tasted so good. We then left for the airport. I slept the entire forty five minute drive. Add another airplane to my list of airlines I have flown on. Did you ever hear of Hainan Airlines? It exists and I flew on it. After going through the insane Chinese security once more, we all walked to our gate. Andy decided to try and keep me up, so he ordered me a triple expresso. Was so good. Hope it works. We then boarded the plane. Unfortunately, a crying baby was in the seats in back of me. Does much better than the triple expresso. As we lifted off, the baby stopped and I fell back into another deep sleep. Andy struck out. I was then woken up for a meal. It seems that all flights in China are serving meals, but all the meals are the same. Either chicken or beef and white rice. I passed on the meal. Cannot handle the constant boredom of the food. It just is the same all the time, and sometimes served differently. It was then back to sleep. We finally landed in Guilin at around 12:15 and left the airport an hour later. We are all being transported in four vans since a large bus will not fit in the streets and roads we will be traveling. The first thing that hit me as we left the airport was the hot and humid air. Where was I? Guilin is in southern China. We are around 300 miles from the Vietnamese border and the weather feels more like Southeast Asia than China. We all boarded our four vans and left for a one hour drive to a restaurant. We were given our own dining room and served the same food all over again. Some of the other people are commenting to me that I do not eat enough. I had white rice and some chicken. By the time we finished lunch, it had started to rain. The rain even was like Southeast Asia. A torrential downpour and then a lessening. We made our way to the hotel where we will be spending three nights. The hotel is nice and very livable. The name of the hotel is Yangshuo Green Water Hotel. I like that name. Why is it named Green Water hotel? Will try to find out before we leave. Sort of adds a mystery to the adventure. It was then up to our rooms to put our bags and gear down and immediately meet again to go out to shoot. We al met and got into our vans. The skies opened up again. A torrential downpour and then stopping. it seemed like a faucet was opened and then closed quickly. Michael took us to a great place to take pictures. It was a panoramic view of the Karst Mountains. I kept on clicking as the lights constantly changed over the mountains. The mountains were in the background and there were layers upon layers of them. Eventually a mist and fog started settle and move over them.
It was then back to the hotel to drop off our equipment and have some dinner. I was dreading dinner. I knew what was on the menu. I was surprised. We all walked to a restaurant serving Western cuisine. They even had cold drinks. Cold drinks served with ice does not exist in China. If you order a soda, it comes warm. The dishes are small and table napkins are little pieces of tissue. Not this restaurant. Cold drinks and normal size dishes with real forks, knives and spoons. I looked through the menu and saw what I needed to order. A New Zealand tenderloin steak. The picture was starring me in the face. When the steak arrived I was disappointed. A small cut of meat and not what I expected and needed, but it was not Chinese food and I didn’t care.
After dinner we walked back to the hotel. The weather is still hot, humid and steamy. Similar to Cambodia, but not like the other Chinese cities we had been to.
What’s on the schedule for tomorrow? Would you believe we are all meeting at 3 AM in the lobby. We need to take a one hour ride and then a thirty minute hike to take pictures of the Cormorant Fishermen. What are Cormorant Fishermen? Cormorant fishing is a fishing method in which fishermen use trained cormorants (birds) to fish in the rivers. The fishermen go out at dawn on the Li River and stand on reed rafts with only a cormorant bird, a kerosene light and a net. The fishermen tie a snare near the base of the bird’s throat. This prevents the birds from swallowing larger fish, which are held in their throat, but the birds can swallow smaller fish. When the cormorants catch the fish, they are brought back to the boat using ropes that are attached to their bodies. The fishermen then take the larger fish out of the birds throats. This way of fishing began over 1300 years ago. This type of fishing is still practiced in Japan and China. in China, the only place it is practiced is on the Li River in Guilin China. This way of fishing is a dying art and will probably die soon.
I am so tired that it does not matter that I sleep and rest will be nonexistent until after breakfast. It is now 11 PM and I have only three and one half hours to rest. The days have all melted into one. I could pass and sleep in, but how many people will ever be given the opportunity to see and take pictures of the Cormorant Fishermen? These people and their way of life will die out shortly and I will have experienced this unique way of living.