The Night Bus to Guilin

Night bus to Guilin

We took the night bus to Guilin. Neither of us had ever taken a night bus in China before, so we didn’t know what to expect. You can imagine our surprise when we discovered that this bus didn’t have seats but beds! It had curtained windows, a pillow and a blanket at each bed. The bed themselves resembled hospital beds with their plastic railings and white sheets. There was no bathroom on board though, which was worrying to Nicole and I.

Nicole was seat 9 and I was on seat 10, but somehow our seats were on different ends of the bus. Fortunately someone agreed to switch with us so I could be on the bottom bunk underneath Nicole.

We were next to a family. The back of the bus where we were had a curved end which their little girl was using as a slide while her mum was helping her speak English to Nicole. I rolled out my travel sheet and pillow which seemed to perplex the people around me on the bus. I hope I wasn’t being rude.

I didn’t have a plastic bag to put my shoes in, so a woman gave me one. Than another neighbour pointed to the cubby hole below my bed to stick my shoes and belongings. I put my shoes and book in there, curled up with my purse in my arms.

The little girl slept in the aisle. Her Han kept falling on me as she slept. It was more cute than annoying. I put on my nature sounds of Canada playlist to help me sleep, waking up to song of the Oriole when the bus stopped for a much needed pee break at 11:30pm. I was so happy to see the squatty potty, although I’ve yet to master the art of using them. There’s no toilet paper in the stalls or soap by the sinks, so you always have to remember to pack some in your purse.

Nicole and I stood on the platform where she told me all about the sights she’d seen during the drive one most beautiful picture she described was fields with rows upon rows of candles or small lights. Each time she took off her glasses to go to sleep she’d see something interesting and have to be them back on again!

When we got back on the bus, the little girl started playing with Nicole’s seatbelt which was dangling down from her bunch and using the back of the bus as a slide, muttering quickly to herself. After awhile, she switched beds with her dad which seemed to quiet her down. They were a very a happy, loving family.

I feel asleep again and was woken by the bus stopping and idling with a bunch of other buses. We seemed to be there for hours. Were we at the provincial border crossing? A road toll? I wasn’t sure. Nicole was asleep so I couldn’t ask her if she knew.

We eventually pulled out with other busses and continued down the highway. I wondered if they regulated bus flow like on the Li Chen River where Nicole had explained to me all the big boats were released at once instead of being staggered. So, she proposed that we rent a bamboo raft to take us down the river at a separate time to allow for better picture taking.

As we drove down the highway I saw for the first time the surreal mountains of the district. They shot up, incredibly steep mounds of green with a rounded peak. The mountains looked so unusual! It was so strange to see them through the bus window. The trees looked bizarre too. I wasn’t sure if they were palm in the darkness, but they looked like hands or cartoon dreadlocks against the night sky.

When I next woke up, I was greeted by a blue sky and golden sunlight on the passing trees and buildings. There were no more mountains, but fields. In one there was a woman doing field work with an ox, which looked most picturesque.

When I next looked out the window, we were in a city or town rampant with people on scooters and bicycles. There were children walking to school with bowls of noodles, men pulling carts full with watermelons, and street markets abustle with people. There was so much going on! I felt like I was getting a wonderful view of everyday life in China on that bus ride.

There seemed to be a lot of construction going on. I felt like very time I looked out a window there was a new building going up. There were lots of babies too. Babies on mopeds, babies on laps, babies on backs, and on bicycles.

And then… We were there! We had arrived in Guilin City.

* Photos taken with an iPhone 4S.
* Blog posted by email.

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