Communication Breakdowns in Guăngxī

After a delayed train from Chángshā, I was curious what time the train would arrive in Guìlín. By tapping my wrist in a ‘what’s the time gesture’ whilst saying ‘Chángshā’ to the train attended, you would think he would get the gist of what I was trying to say. But no, the attendant grabed my wrist and attempted to pull my sleeve up in a desperate panic. Charades doesn’t work in China…

Pictures of Guìlín were used as backdrops for the planet Kashyyyk in Star Wars episode three. Some of the karst limestone formations that surround the Li river are some of the weirdest and most unique looking things I have ever seen, so it wasn’t hard to imagine a bunch of hairy Wookies having the run of this place. A short stay in the town was just enough time for a relaxing stroll along the river, before we headed to the more spectacular, neighbouring Yángshuò county.



As I have mentioned before, Chinese is a tonal language, therefore when a non Chinese speaker tries to say something, what might come out could be completely different to what is intended. Standing by a lake in Yángshuò I attempted to ask a local loiterer if I could take his picture. The response I got was a glare of bewilderment, he then proceeded to point at my shoes and mutter in response. In my mind I think I said something like ‘mate, fancy swapping these shoes for your wife?’ I took the photo anyway. Phrase books don’t work in China…


Yángshuò, like Guìlín is surrounded by many karst limestone peaks. The picturesque landscape is so stunning, it was chosen as the image for the back of the 20 Yuan note. A tandem bike was chosen to explore the surrounding area, this was my first time on a tandem bike and I learned two things from the experience:
1) if the person at the back just pretends to pedal, they will have a nice relaxing afternoon taking in the scenery, at the expense of my poor legs.
2) woman really can’t drive…


We called in the Big Banyan tree scenic area, the huge 1500 year old tree is still going strong. The Banyan tree is the prominent figure of many myths and religions in Asian and Pacific culture but one thing I’ve always noticed about them, is their extremely trippy presentation, this would be an excellent location for a rave. There was a large congregation of hawkers around here selling water and trying to get you to have your photo taken with a small primate, dressed as napoleon…



A short ride down the road was Moon hill, or ‘Moom hill’ as the entrance sign incorrectly read. According to this same sign, Moon hill has been visited by many famous ‘celebrities’ over the years such as, wait for it, Richard Nixon. Named after the semicircular hole that penetrates the peak at the top, the sweaty thirty minute climb to the summit offered some nice views of Yángshuò. The final leg of the ride took us through numerous local villages…





The Chinese don’t do photos


One small cafe had an odd thing on the menu, acid and pork, I hoped this was named after carbonic acid, which is the cause of the karst peaks in Yángshuò county. Another eatery had no English at all on the menu, so we were forced to list the ingredients we wanted from the phrase book. Just don’t ask for it with peppers, you will end up with slices of a hybrid cucumber/seaweed in a vinegary hotdog sauce, make your own meals don’t work in China…

Categories: China | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Communication Breakdowns in Guăngxī

  1. Great pictures. I live in Beijing and am planning on visiting Guilin next year.


  2. Amazing pics…

  3. derek

    nice to see that you’re able to update your blog

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