Category Archives: Guilin

Green Lotus Hotel of Yangshuo

The best way to explorer Yangshuo should be any of the nice hotel (including youth hostels), and hang out in the bars on the West Street.

The lobby (Yes, the little model in the middle is Yifan)

The view from the top of the hotel.

The hotel windows.

The entrance of the hotel from the river side.

The other side of the Lijiang River.

The view out side the window. Pretty nice, isn’t it?

My Review:

This is obviously a very family friendly hotel, with very nice hardware. It was built according to 5-star standard, but not a 5-star yet. This is the typical trick of many hotels. They claim to be 5-star or 4-star STANDARD, but not certified yet. Many of them, are just in the middle of opening and get certified. I heard the hotel must be running for a period of time before it is accepted for review. I guess Green Lotus Hotel is one of them, but some others just claim they build the hotel according to that standard, which does not mean that they are certified yet…

The service of the hotel is very nice. In most places, like the managers of the hotels always greet people, and the house keeping standard are very close to 5-star standard. You just feel that it is pretty like Shangri-la Hotel. However, there are many details that shows a much lower standard.

One of the small details was, the server in the cafeteria does not ask you the must-ask question “tea or coffee” at breakfast time, which means that they frequently miss to greet a guest, and don’t seat them. Also, they do things like ask guest to move to a table have they sit down, instead of move the forks, and knives to the guest. Well. I know I am over-picky here, but I am not talking about my preference, I just talk about the service of most 5-star hotels.

I believe the Green Lotus Hotel should be the best quality hotel of Yangshuo, and is suitable for families, especially with a kid.

Having said that, I have to say I regret that I missed the most exciting experience and maybe the best part of Yangshuo: backpacker type of travel. That is the cost of having a family and having Yifan traveling with us. I accept it. People always swing from nice hotel with good condition and service, and the local budget hotel which is not only cheap but also interesting. At different stage, people have different perference. Hope one day, when just Wendy and I travel, we switch back to the life style we like better: travel as a local, and stay away from 5-star hotels.

P.S. OK. Hope this article wraps up my Guilin trip, and I am getting back to normal life in Shanghai.

P.S. 2 The most interesting thing possible would be leave Shanghai for a week, and when you get back, you find many different new progress, like the poles Yanggao South Road viaduct at Gaoke West Road have been completed, and some new roads appeared near my home. Shanghai is really changing by weeks, while many other city change by year.

Photos of Yangshuo, Guilin – Part II

Here are more photos of the trip with very brief note. I am here in Shanghai. Immediately after I get off airplane, I headed to Shangri-la for a meeting, and there are two meetings near the Pudong Shangri-la and Starbucks tomorrow. I already noticed the big difference – I feel excited about the upcoming meetings – that is the benefit of a vacation.

Follor near Lijiang River – from the Bilian Jiangjing Hotel.

© Jian Shuo Wang

Boat on Lijiang River.

© Jian Shuo Wang

Below: Scene of the West Street. Wendy said she loves this picture.

© Jian Shuo Wang

Below: the lobby of Yangshuo Youth Hostel. We reserved this hotel but later cancelled it. It turned out to be a nice and quiet hotel.

© Jian Shuo Wang

The Yangshuo Shiwaitaoyuan 世外桃源 (they translate their name to “Shangri-la”, which I don’t think is a proper name).

© Jian Shuo Wang

The mountains and architect of the village.

© Jian Shuo Wang

© Jian Shuo Wang

They have live performance – there are people act as native people.

© Jian Shuo Wang

This lady is NOT an actor – I love the natural feel of the village

© Jian Shuo Wang

© Jian Shuo Wang

© Jian Shuo Wang

© Jian Shuo Wang

The water circle:

© Jian Shuo Wang

© Jian Shuo Wang

This is the Yinzi Yan 银子岩. The Karst cave.

© Jian Shuo Wang

© Jian Shuo Wang

© Jian Shuo Wang

© Jian Shuo Wang

Wrapping Up my Guilin Trip

I am packing up for my departure to Shanghai tomorrow. Good bye Guilin and Yangshuo.

  • It is good and important to take break at least every year to find time to spend with family.
  • People need to have a unique place to go to make a mark in memory about the year.
  • This is not a relaxed trip with Yifan, and my parents-in-law. As Wendy put it, we are learning to take care of people, and start to share the responsibility of a family. A big family trip proposes a much bigger challenge on where we stay, and where we eat.
  • We started with a cheap hotel (180 RMB per night) in Guilin, but immediately cancelled our booking in Youth Hostel in Yangshuo, and moved in to the local 5-star hotel. I just realize that we are no long the same person when we were a backpacker – a big family is not the right group of people to do that kind of trip.
  • Guilin is nice, and you have to spend time to find places that local people go – the Ronghu Lake, instead of the Elephant Hill..
  • The trip is like a trip in a city. I still preper destination like Sanya, where you stay at the beach, and far away from the city.
  • I am back with engergy to start my Q2

Shanghai, we are back!

Mountains of Guilin

Just had a strange thought: after several hundred years, when all the tall buildings in Shanghai got abandoned, and trees, and grasses grow out of the buildings, that will be another Guilin.

You get the idea of the mountains of Guilin? Just like the high-raising buildings in Shanghai. It just stand there, coming out of no where.

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

When I am in Guilin, I also understand that the “stone drawing” of Suzhou Museum by I.M. Peimust be the mountains of Guilin.

Look at this drawing and this photo. Are they similar with each other?

Impression of Impression Sanjie Liu

We went to see the long expected Impression Sanjie Liu 印象刘三姐.

The show was designed to be the highlight of the trip, because of several reasons:

  • It is a show on the Lijiang River, and before the nice mountain.
  • The type of show is very unique in China.
  • It is directed by Zhang Yimou, the director of Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.
  • Also, the ticket is very pricey: 188 RMB per person.

Hmm… What is my impression? It is very hard to say.

It is Good in Terms of Economy Return

I did a rough calculation. The ticket price is 188 RMB (or 130 RMB if you get it from tour guide). And there are much more expensive tickets like 380, 680 RMB. There are one to two sessions per day. Every time, the theatre of 2000 people is full.

Let’s say, the performance gets 100 RMB per person net on average, and there are 1.5 performance per day, that is 300,000RMB per night, which is 109 million RMB per year. That is a huge number for a theatre in a county!

The Theatre

The theatre is big – 2000+ people. To my greatest surprise, it is fully packed today. We got a very bad seat at the corner of the second row. I was told that when the show starts, I can change my seat if there are open seat. But, there is no any available seats… It is quite amazing.

Yangshuo shocked me a lot that the 2000 people all fly from different places and get to a theatre in the middle of almost nowhere…

The Show is…. Generally Good

Let me post some photos.

Disclaimer: It is allowed to take photo during the show (it is not a theatre anyway. We were at the river side, and among the mountains) as long as no flash is used.

Photograph: Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph: Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph: Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph: Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph: Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph: Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph: Jian Shuo Wang

As you can see, the scenes are very nice – my photography is the problem and I didn’t spend any time in taking the photos, because the scene was very nice.

BUT, Something is Wrong

After the show, Wendy and I briefly exchanged the question: “How do you like it?” followed by long silence. We just feel there is something wrong. Chaos? Distracted? Or something else? Wendy described it as “Modern Vision Art Show” – just vision art, and nothing beyond that.

On the shuttle back, we talked with a girl from Australia, and I suddenly got the feeling. It was exactly the feeling after we saw Zhang Yimou’s movie Curse of the Golden Flower.

Yes. That explains why we feel the first half much better than the second part. In the second part, there is no single person, just a group of people doing exactly the same thing with no personal expression, no individual – just an army of fish men and fish women. Everyone of them are so small and meaningless, but altogether, they formed something big. I don’t like it.

Anyway, I would rate it as excellent show and would recommend others to go and see it.

Bad Tourism: Killing Goose for Eggs

Tourism is a prosperous industry in China. It drives the economy of many cities, like Guilin (where I am now) and Luoyang (my hometown). How to develop a sustainable tourist industry must have been the focus of many officials. Here is my observation, and thoughts, although I am not sure yet.

Moving Piers to Increase Transportation

Guilin is the popuar travel destination city (with an International airport), and Yangshuo is the emerging and even hotter place that people must visit. The cruise on the Lijiang River is many people’s choice to get to Yangshuo from Guilin, after arriving by air.

The origin pier to get onto the cruise was near the Elephant Hill, which is exactly at the downtown of Guilin. The tour guide told us in order to help the development of other areas, they moved the place to get on board to somewhere 29 km away from the city.

This way, it generate huge demand for transportation from the city. Almost all tourist company, taxi company, and local transportation company got customers. It easily cost much money.

I am not an expert of city planning. I just doubt whether this helps to build the local economy. The answer must be yes, but at what cost? I know the reason to put airports far away from the city is common practice for two reasons: 1) to avoid noise, and not to prevent the city from building tall buildings, 2) To help to pull the economy of places from airport to the city. That may makes sense for a big city, but for tourist city, travelers are customers, and does it still make sense?

Shopping Street

At the other side of the cruise, Yangshuo, situation is the same, or even worse. The moved the pier from the down to another one far from the old town. You have to take the electronic shuttles (10 RMB per person, which means 40 RMB for us) to the town. That is almost the only choice – walking is not feasible.

I am very sure that by providing that mandate transportation, the government get at least 20 RMB per tourist (round trip) as tourist tax (without the name of tax). That is, I would say, short sight.

Also, before we can get to the shuttle station, we have to walk for 15 minutes along a shopping street with hundreds of small shops along both way. Every single shop is selling exactly the same thing – they even do not bother to sell souvenirs – they sell the stuff you can see from every tourist place across China. By showing you the same thing hundreds of time, the local government official must believe this is the most effective way of increasing the local tourism income.

Well. I believe they must be very successful in doing this, but again, at what cost?

Too Commercialized

In Yangshuo, every tourists are bothered by people approaching you asking about Impression Liusan Jie, or restaurants or hotels (one guy said sincerely to me: “This hotel obviously does not suite people like you – it is way too expensive”). Is squeezing every penny out of tourist the most important thing? I know local government does not directly control vendors, but they can (just as they move the piers). It is just a matter of whether they want to or not.

My gut feeling is, every place needs to go through this process of squeezing money to provide value, and grow with its customers (refers to Customers Wants Service to be Bad). I know I am not on the driver seat to make the decision, and I really don’t know what my choice will be if I am in charge of the tourism of a small city – will I be too attracted by the golden eggs to kill the goose, or just kill one of my gooses, to get my first barrel of gold?

So, my question I want to seek for an answer is, Whether Making it Hard to Tour is the Solution for Chinese Tourism?

Thoughts on the Road

People like to think on the road. I believe it is the massive input of information – the scene, the smell, the noise, the interesting stuff… Here are my thoughts during my Guilin, Yangshuo trip.

Travel

Why people like travel? Besides all the possible reasons, there is another one I found out: Convenience. Most hotels are close to nice streets, beautiful scenes. The nice view or the bar streets are much more accessible for travelers, not local residents. I believe my next travel destination will be Shanghai, the city I live. But I will spend the day in a hotel, which is exactly in the downtown or along the Huangpu Bund – that provides a completely different lifestyle than living in home.

Network Effects in Dining

In the small county of Yangshuo, a large percentage of restaurants offers beer fish. I had the impression that every shop offers that. Why? I doubt it is really the tradition of this emerging tourist destination. It should happen like this: A) When there are beer fish signs everywhere, visitors think it is the local specialty, and they think they must try it. B) When everyone wants to try it, more restaurants offer this dish… It is like A -> B -> A -> B… each feedback circle makes the next step stronger (I am Automation major in university, and I love feedback loops).

But… there is one unanswered question: who started the loop? The answer is CCTV. When CCTV first reported one restaurant offering beer fish, everyone follows, and put the CCTV sign to their logo, and the loop started…

Smart (or Over Smart) Tourism Industry

When we get onto the bus transporting us from Guilin to cruise port, the tour guide asked everyone to stick a sign with the bus plate number on it. She said that it is to help everyone to find the bus. Actually, I believe they do it just as Internet affiliate program set the cookie – it is a tracking code, so everything you consume along the way get credited back to the tour guide, which means $$$$.

On the cruise, at the final 20 minutes, they want everyone to get back to seat, instead of hanging around on the deck – dangerous for docking, or other reasons. They broadcast many times that they will send souvenir gift to everyone who is SITTING on the seat. That is much more helpful than anything – everyone gets back to seat immediately.

We are adult but sometimes, we behaves like kindergarten kids.

Photos of Yangshuo, Guilin

Let me post some photos of Yangshuo. It is no longer that kind of backpacker trip with Yifan with us, and his fixed schedule of sleep, we are more hotel oriented with just random adventures out side the hotel.

The Gongnong Bridge of Yangshuo.

These mountains are famous because they are on the back of the 20 RMB note.

This is the view from our hotel – no easy way to access the river bank, but the view is still pretty nice.

I am in Guilin

I am in Guilin.

Before I came, I thought Guilin is like Sanya. I am wrong. I am presented a city like Luoyang.

The city is small, crowded (full of the atmosphere of life, of cause), and not so beauitiful. It is like the old town of Guangzhou, or Shanghai – you can find the energy from the chaos.

I even didn’t took a single picture in Guilin, before I left the city for Yangshuo.

To be exactly, I am now in Yangshuo. Guilin is just a glance of the Elephant Hill from taxi window just before sunset.

Today, we spent the morning doing a Guilin Hotel tour on bus (The bus took us to every hotel to pickup tourists, and it cost more than one hour), and spent the rest of the day on the boat from Guilin to Yangshuo.

Now, at 10:30 PM, when Yifan fall asleep – he is obviously too tired today, let me take some time to record my thoughts of the day. I will seperate the thoughts into many different blog entries, in an effort to cut each article shorter and more readable.

I am Going to Guilin

Business is business – the excitement, daily thought (not only daily, it is also nightly), inspiration, challenges, and changes – when I look back, I just realized I didn’t go to a well planned trip in the last two years. What was the last time, I was from business and normal life? 2007 in Australia! It was before Yifan was born. I did visit nearby places like Hangzhou twice, and even fly as far as Sanya for several days, but these two cities are too familiar and we visited almost the same thing as before, and they even didn’t leave too much memories (even not a blog entry) for me.

I am taking leave in the next several days to go to Guilin 桂林, Guangxi Province. Yifan is old enough to understand interesting places (2 months to 2 years), and his grandpa and grandma have been busy baby sitting him for quite some time. It makes sense to have a family celebration for everyone. So I decided (well. It is partly Wendy decided) to go to Guilin for several days.

Although I have one thousand reasons not to take a vacation, at a second thoughts, I think it is too easy to say, business is not all of life, or family is important, without any action. So I want to take solid action about spending a week with the family, especially Yifan and Wendy, and do nothing else. For the business side, it is also good to pause a little bit and see the business from a little bit far away, and do some reflection. When we are too focused on something, it is hard to see the whole picture. Some meditation, reflection, and hindsight (I learn the word from my friend Ashish Gadnis‘s company name: Forwardhindsight) may be more helpful. Peace … Peace … in a place far away…

Where is Guilin

For my readers who don’t know where is Guilin, it is here:

It is at 34°ree;N and 115°ree;E (Shanghai is at 31°ree;N 121°ree;E).

We fly out to Guilin from Hongqiao Airport at CZ3252 at 13:45, and arrives at 16:15 – 2 and half hour flight.

Photos?

I am sure to take some photo and write down something about Guilin. Let me just give you a preview of the trip by using Flickr photo (with Creative Common licenses!)

Photograph by HL Wang

Beautiful Guilin by shengangxi

Beautiful Guilin by shengangxi

Look at the beautiful mountains and clear Li River! My photos may not as nice as these, and we may not be as lucky to get to the best weather, but it is always good to travel (instead of business travel), isn’t it?