Highlights of Guilin
April 10, 2000. Our stay in Guilin was very short, less than 24 hours.. The sleepy 1 million plus picturesque town is situated by the Li River. Its claim to fame is tourism focused upon the beautiful mountains rising up from the landscape and the river flowing along side the mountains.
On our own later in the afternoon, we walked along the waterfront and were repeatedly approached by 'art students' asking if they could practice their English but ultimately hoping to get us to view and buy their art works.
Farmers in this area experience more freedom in their income and the one-child law. At one time all the fields in Guilin were used for growing rice, now fish is the number one crop. This is because the rivers are so polluted that fish became very scarce with no way to replenish stock until farmers started converting rice fields to fisheries.
Highlights of Guangzhou
April 11, 2000. After a delay at the Guilin airport we arrived in Guangzhou around noon. It was muggy and overcast but we lost no time and drove to the Sun Yatsen Memorial Hall. Sun Yatsen, known as the first president of the Republic of China, was born south-west of the city in Cuiheng. Sun headed the Nationalist Party in Guangzhou and it was here that the fledgling Communist Party began to take shape.
The Temple of Six Banyan Trees was our next stop. The octagonal Flower Pagoda on site was originally built in 1097 and is the tallest in the city (17 stories). Today it serves as the headquarters for the city Buddhist Association. When we arrived it was covered in a labyrinth of wooden scaffolding.
The last formal and chaperoned stop today was the Chen Clan Academy. This is a family shrine housed in a large compound built between 1890 and 1894. It was used for celebrating sacrifices and other ceremonial occasions. The three major halls contain extensive wood carvings and pieces of furnishings.
The White Swan overlooking the Po River has the American consulate attached to it by annex. For this reason, the hotel is the center of many western couples finalizing adoption of Chinese girls (boys are not eligible for adoption unless disabled and unfit for work). Many couples were spending time in the hotel with their new family additions waiting for the last bureaucratic paperwork to be completed.
The next day we rode to the water terminal, exchanged all of our RMB (illegal to remove from mainland China), went through customs, and boarded a hydrofoil for a 2.5 hour ride to Hong Kong.
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