Welcome to “The Weekender!” offering suggestions for that cheeky weekend away on a reasonable budget. after all, we are in the prime position to see a few new places around.
Most of our readers are based in Dongguan because they simply love being here, but naturally everybody needs a change once in a while. I have made it my mission to draw from my own experiences and those of friends, to share ideas with fellow “Dongguaners” of where to head to for that impromptu getaway we all deserve!
The adjacent province to the west of Guangdong, Guangxi has become ever popular over the last few years since the completion of the high-speed train link between the respective capitals Guangzhou and Nanning. With Guangxi having been on my bucket list for some time, a recent opportunity for me to explore another facet of China’s vast diversity presented itself—one I simply could not miss!
I first heard about the China football cup, when I was back home in the UK for Christmas. For a small nation like Wales this was quite a big deal. For me, the chance to see my country play against China here on the mainland, was something I just had to do.
I found it quite difficult initially to find information regarding the game, but after some digging, finally got the details and managed to pre-book my ticket online. With the day confirmed as a Thursday, I decided to utilize the trip to make a long weekend and head up to the renowned Guangxi hot-spots of Yangshuo and Guilin.
The trip was doable on a fair budget. The total round-trip train tickets set me back roughly 1,000 RMB and for the nights I stayed in Guangxi, I paid no more than 270 RMB per night. Game tickets came in at 180 RMB, so the only other costs were from eating and general expenses. I took the metro down to Humen high-speed station and after a fleeting change at Guangzhou South, I arrived at Nanning three hours later.
One thing I would strongly recommend to anyone using the high-speed train is to find a ticket outlet nearby to arrange travel. Only as a last resort should one venture to the station for tickets or face the wrath of Chinese queuing and prepare to write off a stressful hour with the possible need for therapy after. For an extra 5 RMB, it really is a no-brainer!
The trip was doable on a fair budget. The total round-trip train tickets set me back roughly 1,000 RMB and for the nights I stayed in Guangxi, I paid no more than 270 RMB per night.
Back in Nanning, my trip was always going to be against the clock, so naturally I found the nearest British pub, “The Queen’s Head” and set about getting my bearings. Onto the game and an impressive stadium design was the stage for what was essentially the Gareth Bale (Wales’ star player and Real Madrid striker) show. A hat trick for Bale with three other goals and China’s football lesson was complete. The Chinese fans took it very well, cheering along regardless.
Mission one accomplished, it was time to head up north to my next destinations. A four-hour train ride facilitated my arrival in Yangshuo and a stunning vista from my balcony that encapsulated the beauty of the region’s elaborate rock formations. Akin to a scene from the movie “Avatar,” the unique land-forms beckoned me into their midst.
A swift bite of German sausage with sauerkraut in the food district was followed by an evening show of the traditional art of fishing using cormorant birds; a fascinating spectacle which has to be seen to be believed. After a final night-time gaze at the karst limestone structures lit by the grinning crescent moon above, it was time for some well needed shuteye before the next leg of the journey.
Morning required an early start to get the boat from upriver to Yading, before transferring to Guilin by bus. This part of the trip became a little pricey. At just shy of 400 RMB per person, the locals were obviously getting bang for their buck for the privilege of seeing the highlight of the cruise between Xingping and Yucun—the infamous picture from the 20 RMB note. Alternative direct buses were available for 25 RMB.
Several hours later in Guilin, which literally translates as “forest of sweet Osmanthus,” the day continued with a visit to the seven-star national park and a warm welcome from some friendly wild monkeys, swiftly followed by a night cruise further up the Li river to the Fir lake, where I took in evermore of the city’s majestic natural beauty. I finally departed on the Sunday after a very brief visit to the infamous Elephant Trunk Hill where I sampled the local delicacy of “beer fish” for lunch.
The whole trip was an extremely positive and enjoyable experience, but as with most travel endeavors, the time spent is simply never enough. I can safely say anybody based in Dongguan could comfortably make this trip over a long weekend and would surely enjoy the plethora of interesting experiences that await.