Friday, January 06, 2012

Last Day in Guilin

For the first post of the new year, I'll be continuing the Tea in Asia series. I went to Hong Kong, Guilin (China), Taiwan, and Shanghai (China) back in November 2011...

Our last day in Guilin was an interesting one. We started our morning just as we’ve done since arriving in Guilin – breakfast at the hotel. The spread was a bit more elaborate, but I stuck to what I was familiar with. Carbs!



My plate consisted of steamed bun with green onions, stir-fried noodles, and youtiao. I had a few dumplings on my second round. But what I really enjoyed was having a warm bowl of soup (from the noodle soup area) and youtiao. It was so comforting!


The dessert selection was pretty sweet (pun intended). Not only were there freshly fried red bean-filled sesame balls, but there was a few kinds of mochi too! I ended breakfast with a sesame ball and some slices of oranges.

Our tour group boarded the bus and drove to the Lipu Silver Cave in the Lipu County. We walked through the amazing cave and saw rock formations like these…


This was named after the Great Wall of China.


I think this was named the Wall of Diamonds or something.


Check out this column. I wonder how many years this one took to form. The tour took through the Silver Cave took under two hours to complete. It was quite the experience, despite being hot and humid inside the cave. Walking through the cave was a pretty good workout too.

As the mountain breeze cooled us, we walked to a restaurant nearby for lunch. We found a few papayas growing along the way.


What? Papayas grow on trees? I thought they just appeared in grocery stores with a wave of a hand.


Future Cola? “Future will be better”… really? But I thought that people said that the end of the world was coming in December 2012.

Enough with the sarcasm…


Kingway beer was “made with the best malt and Germany technology.” Like most of the beers from China, it was quite light.


Taro was battered and deep fried. I don’t like taro, but the tour group seemed to enjoy it.


Steamed tofu with minced meat.


Steamed fish with ginger, green onions and soy sauce.



Stir-fried vegetables.


Soy chicken.


Egg with a sweet and sour sauce.


More battered and deep fried taro. This time, these had a sticky caramel glaze. There was a bowl of watery simple syrup for dipping.

Meals like this one are quite humbling. Although I may not have liked everything that was served, I have to remind myself that the food is food. I just have to accept it and try to enjoy it, although it can be tough.

The cave was supposed to be the last stop in our tour of Guilin, but because our group was so small we had done everything quicker than the tour guides had anticipated. Our tour guides decided to take us to a garden for a relaxing afternoon stroll.




We saw koi ponds and banana trees, as well as a variety of flowers, trees, and hedges. I really enjoyed the afternoon stroll because it was more relaxing. No more tourist traps for us!

Oh wait, there was one more tourist trap. We were brought to a large grocery store on our way back to the hotel. A few people loaded up on snacks, while others chose to stay on the bus.

We had an early dinner because our flight back to Hong Kong was later that evening.


There was a plate of silky tofu with red and green peppers, braised eggplants, and roast duck. I've always wondered why people disliked tofu. I think it's because they haven't tried this uber fresh variety.



Stir-fried potatoes and steamed egg.


There was a large bowl of overdone bland round noodles in a tomato broth.


Our tour group made a request to order another plate of vegetables. Hong Kong people really like their vegetables!


I stuck to the custard-like tofu cubes.

Travelling to Guilin was an eye-opener for sure. Forgetting about the pointless tourist traps, there were a few places that are worth revisiting. The Silver Cave, for one, was a great experience. The Guilin Ideal World Scenic Spot and the mountain top lookout are also worth your time and money.

I wasn’t expecting too much out of the tour, since it was a tour within China. Based on the two tours groups I’ve been with in China (I went to Beijing in 2010), they tend to herd you to tourist traps after tourist traps. So if you don’t like doing that stuff, you should hire a private tour guide and do your own stuff.


After dinner, we flew back to Hong Kong without much difficulty. We were all kind of hungry, so on our way back to Aunty's place, we dropped by Law Fu Kee Congee and Noodle Restaurant again. Although they were already closing the place for the night, the staff recognized us and welcomed us in. Dad and Aunty enjoyed bowls of congee, while the rest of us had wonton noodle soup. I tried to focus on eating quickly (I'm a slow eater) and ignore their stares. I guess they were amused at how much we enjoyed their food. We explained that we don't have great Chinese food in Ottawa and that we get our Chinese food fixes from Toronto (about 4 hours away) or Montreal (less than two hours). It seemed like they felt sorry for us. Hahaa! During our conversation, one of the staff came over and showed me how to "properly" eat wonton noodles with hot sauce and some vinegar. Great stuff!

During our whole stay in HK, we probably ate here four times within two weeks. I said this before, but I highly recommend Aunty's go-to congee and wonton noodle soup place. I regret trying some congee. Well, that just means that I have to make another trip to HK, right? Riiiiight...

It was nice to be back in such a big city again.

Breathtaking Sights and Seafood Banquet in Guilin

Hong Kong Harbour Front and Korean BBQ

More links from the Tea in Asia 2011 trip:

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