It was two months into my contract when my company decided to give all the teachers a weeks paid vacation. “Wow. Where should we go?” I asked my friends. After much consideration my boyfriend and I decided it would be nice for us to take a trip just the two of us. The decision on where to go was a major one. There was Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, or even Tibet. After researching all these places and how to travel there we realized we needed to travel somewhere closer in order for us to enjoy our time off. If we travelled to any big city it would have meant a couple days on a train or a bus. So we were back to square one trying to figure out where to go. “You have to go to Guilin” said my roommate. He has been there longer then my boyfriend and I and had already done some travelling. “It’s more country then city, you’ll love it”. So after researching Guilin we decided that this was the destination for our first trip.
“Guilin…this Sunday…two tickets…” I said. Blank stare.
“Guilin…?” I repeat again. Once again, blank stare. After getting slightly frustrated I said “Eli call Joyce”. Joyce was our translator. She was amazing and did a great job at getting us out of difficult situations. After handing the phone over to the lady selling the bus tickets we receive a smile and know that she finally understands. The bus: a sleeper bus is designed for the comfort of the passengers travelling at a long distance. We were travelling for 8 hours. Once you walk on the bus there are three sets of bunk bed type beds on the left, the middle, and the right. We cram through the tiny aisle trying to find our bed, hoping they are close together. Documenting our travels after 5 minutes of taking ridiculous photos on the bus we realize that motion sickness is very common for Chinese people. There were people vomiting everywhere, so one can only imagine the smell. Keeping positive we sucked it up and slept most of the way there.
4 a.m. we have finally arrived at our destination. Fact: Chinese people do not stay on any time schedule what so ever. Exhausted from our trip we see two motorbikes, as we walk over to them they give us a look and smile. We show them the Chinese translation for hotel and they take us there. The man at the front desk sees us and charges us 400 yuan (which is approximately 60 Canadian dollars), but a ridiculous amount to spend on a room. Since we are both so exhausted we turn to each other and take out our wallets. The man was only doing this because we were white, and foreigners are seen as rich figures. After being ripped off we went up to our room, showered and went to bed for 5 hours, anxious to see where the next day will take us.
Waking up I drew back the curtains and seen mountains. I was speechless, it was absolutely breathtaking. “Eli, wake up! Wake up!” After struggling to get my boyfriend out of bed we leave the hotel and venture around the town. We eat breakfast at a waffle place where they wrap the waffle in peanut butter. Mmm… Soon after filling our bellies with food you shouldn’t eat in the morning we planned our day trip. We were going to the caves. Taking an hour bus ride out of town and then another 40 minute car ride up to mountain we finally make it.
We pay for our tour and get into this tiny boat that brings up into this cave. “Watch your heads” the sign (in English) reads. We duck down very low and come up into an amazing feeling of fresh cool air. It is dark and the only light is that coming from our tour guides flashlight. After being taken around this dark, miraculous cave they tell us about the mud bath. It is a giant pool of mud that we can swim in. My heart was pounding with excitement. “A mud bath Eli! A mud bath!” A feeling of nervousness comes over me because I cannot see what I am stepping into. It is cold. Eli goes in first and drags me in after him. Finally we work up the courage and submerge into this pool of mud screaming as we go down. Once we got used to the feeling this is where the games of throwing the mud began. “OK, now that we are done we have to wash off, where are the showers?” Oh how simple minded we were. There were no showers at all; there was a stream and hot springs that we had to wash off in. It was defiantly an experience.
This was my first trip with Eli into a cave of wonders and mud.