After a hectic first half of a semester, I was desperate for spring break. When my friend proposed going to Guilin, I was game. To be honest, I was just desperate for a break from school work, so I hadn’t done any research into Guilin. I’ll always be a lazy traveler for life, but this was also a good thing: I had plenty of moments to be surprised by everything, beginning with our hostel.
My friend and I just booked it on Airbnb without really looking closely into it. $29 a night, with a fireplace? We were sold. It wasn’t until we got there that we realized just how lucky we had been. The rooms were clean, and it was so beautifully decorated. It also offered food, and the breakfast was a great option for lazy mornings.
And as we later on discovered, it was also a great location. It had a grocery nearby, along with a store that sold Guilin noodles just right across the hostel. There were bus stops nearby, but even just by walking, we were able to reach some of the famous spots. My friend and I just fell in love with Parkside Hostel during our stay.
As tempting as it was to just stay inside all day, we did have to go outside. One of the reasons why we chose the hostel was for its proximity to Qi Xing (Seven Star) park, and it was one of the first spots we went to. Not only was it a massive park, but it was also just so diverse and unexpected. There were the usual temples and pagodas, but there was also this cave path by a river, with Chinese characters carved into the wall. Walk a little further and there was a hotel. A little more, and then we’d find a clearing full of food stands. There was a kid band playing rock music on drums, there was a mosque, and there was even a zoo in the place, which we didn’t get to look at because we were tired from walking around at that point. It was just such an eclectic mix of whimsy and tradition, and I loved it.
We went to the Long Ji (Dragon’s Back) rice terraces too. I didn’t have the imagination to see the dragon’s back, but it was so easy to appreciate the sights. It helped that the tour guide took us to the easier route that was flat and headed down instead of taking the traditional route of climbing up.
And of course, a visit to Guilin wouldn’t be complete without a visit thorugh its famous rivers. After going to the terraces, we were too tired to go out in the day and decided to make up for it by venturing out at night, and after some quick Internet searching, we went to see the Sun and Moon Towers. They were these two beautifully lit towers (see below), and there was conveniently a boat tour ticket office at the site. It came bundled with tickets to three other parks, but we only had the time and energy to go to the Elephant Hill One.
And after looking at all those mountains and water reflections, a murky blue just wouldn’t leave my head. I tried to mix it as soon as I got back, and from that, I ended up thinking of the pink at of the Moon tower. I ended up mixing pink without using the watercolor white, which was such a great discovery for me, because white just gives a color this milky texture, and I thought I could never have pink in my palette. It suited the blue so well, and I got so excited I just kept playing with color.
As you can see, there are a lot of green and bits of red as well, colors that I had picked up from the sights in Guilin that wouldn’t leave my mind. And while I’m grateful for having gotten out of the city, the trip also gave me plenty to think about, and maybe they’ll end up as another blog post.