Tuesday 23 April 2024

24 Hours in Hong Kong.

Guangzhou and Hong Kong was never part of the plan in China backpacking route, I usually have a general route to follow and allows for some minor detours along the way such as Fenghuang and Nanyue but they usually come at a cost of some other places or shorten days at some place. These two cost me Tongren, Fangxin mountain but I was more or less done with mountains after Zhangjiajie.

Hong Kong

China announced in late Nov that to boost tourism to China, five countries would be up for a 1 year trial where they do not have to apply for Visa prior to visiting China and Malaysia was one of the 5 countries. 15 days visa free entry and that sparked a whole new plan in my head when I found out about it.

So the plan had change slightly, instead of going from Guilin to Nanning and exiting to Vietnam directly, I now had the option to go to Guangzhou then Hong Kong and turn back into China and get a 15 day visa free extension. That would allow me to travel slowly along the coast towards Nanning instead of a big skip from Guilin to Nanning.

Me & Ling ... 

In addition to that, a friend was in Hong Kong. A quick message to Ling just to check if he was around made the decision easy, a visit to old travelling friends is always a happy detour. Initially I had not consider Hong Kong due to Visa as I would be stuck there due to no more China visa, but the announcement changed the plan and the detour was form.

I stayed at Chunking Mansion, a very old building in the heart of Tsim Sha Shui which was like a little India in Hong Kong. For any tourist to Hong Kong wanting to see actual Hong Kong, I would say this is a small part of real Hong Kong that most wont acknoledge. The immigrants that lives revolved around Hong Kong. There was like a few dozen hostel inside the building but by chance I found a single private room for the same price. The room as per Hong Kong standard was an experience in itself.

Checked in and reset well in Hong Kong, I messaged Ling and soon he was waiting for me at the entrance of Chunking Mansion. He looked older ... it has been 8 years since Rio and just seeing him reminded me so much of the fun times we had in Rio exploring the city.

A late tea time snack and coffee was in order and stories was exchange. I kept bugging Ling to visit me in Malaysia one day. Soon it was evening and Ling had to go home to family so I was now alone in Hong Kong for one night. Walked around Tsim Sha Shui and I found rolling tobacco. 

The tobacco I brought from Malaysia was running out and here I saw the same tobacco going for a crazy price the same as Singapore. Tried to buy with Alipay, failed. Tried to pay with credit card ... failed ... tried to pay with TouchNGo linked Alipay ... failed ... HK seams to be running of different payment system from China it seams.

With all my access to payment cut off, there was only the cold hard cash option which means exchanging some more RMB to HKD or withdrawing from ATM. I dun have much RMB in cash which is used primarily for emergencies if digital payment fails such as bus or metro or sometimes deposits for hotel keys. 

The HKD 200 which I exchanged initially was left with HKD 130 after buying lunch for the day. I roughly knew that the HMZB shuttle was HKD 65 but then there was the MTR and bus to the HMZB port as well which I have no idea how much it was going to cost.

It as lucky thing that Ling treated me to tea break, with that I devourerd my emergency biscut ration for the night and determined not to spend any more money in Hong Kong. Walk around and enjoy the breeze and left the next day.

Traveled on: Dec 2023

Friday 19 April 2024

A short food stop in Guangzhou

GuangZhou became a hunt for Michelin Star restaurant. For Zaine who somehow was willing to spend money eating at Michilin Star restaurant but not on normal street restaurant that was slightly pricy. I somehow could not understand the logic but was not going to turn down good food even though it was AA.

Guangzhou at Night


Beijing lu Pedestrian Street - Guangzhou

First night in Guangzhou and we had to hunt down the cheap hostel ended up having to book it online so we could get the contact number out. As I suspected it was a smoking hostel but this one was at least clean. We stayed one night for RMB 49 and shifted the next day to downtown Guangzhou as the hostel was quite a distance away.

Thats the downside of a new big city, without knowing where the main spot is, sometimes the first night can be really out of the way if just looking via price. On may it looked quite close but when taking the subway for 45 mintues to get anywhere means it was really a time waster.

Four Season Pavilion - Run Restaurant

Four Season Pavilion - Run Restaurant

We shifted to downtown now that we know the layout of the city after exploring on the first night. We found a proper hostel too and it was only RMB 50. The irony. So second day in Guangzhou was spend leaving the first hostel in the morning and just going stright to the second Michelin Star restaurant which was a tim sum place set at the White Swan Hotel.

White Swan Hotel Guangzhou - Jade River Restaurant

White Swan Hotel Guangzhou - Jade River Restaurant

White Swan Hotel Guangzhou - Jade River Restaurant

After that we hunt down the hostel and basicly just walked all over the downtown area even crossing the pearl river via boat and ended up grabbing a taxi back to Beijing Lu pedestrian street for dinner.

This time it was a Michilin Honor restaurant which was not on Zaine app nor any map but somehow it was plastered all over the restaurant door of their award. The food was delicious and barely half the price of the Michilin Star restaurant.

God of Braised Pot

God of Braised Pot

God of Braised Pot

God of Braised Pot

Two night in Guangzhou, no tourist sites and just basicly walking around wandering aimlessly. It was time to do the Visa run so I bid farewell to Zaine as we part ways and headed out early in the morning to catch a train to Hong Kong.

Traveled on: Dec 2023

Tuesday 16 April 2024


From Yangshou we left for Xingpeng, but the gov bus for that 20km ride was RMB 20/pax and the touts driving cars were not budging and asking for the same price of RMB 20/pax for a colectivo. Not willing to give in to the touts, I suggested DIDI which was like Uber in China and between me and Zaine, spend RMB 25 each to reach Xingpeng.

Xingpeng Hi Grey hostel was RMB 40 a night and it was a good proper international hostel unlike those smoking hostel in China. Zaine had not experience any of the smoking hostel so far in China, so he tought hostel for RMB 40 was expensive. I for one know that a good proper hostel for RMB 40 is actually well worth the money.

Xingpeng Old Town

Xingpeng River Cruise

Xingpeng was suppose to be the heart of Guilin tourism. Everyone comes to Guilin to go to Yangshou to actually end up going to Xingpeng to see the famous Karst Mountain formation along the Li river which is most scenic along Xingpeng and a standard picture behind the RMB20 note

Walking Map of Xingpeng

Zaine and Me did this part the cheap way. By walking along the river for the whole day. Xingpeng was really small, 30 minutes and we covered the whole town. Touristy but not large enaugh to spend more days beyond 2 nights. 

Maybe if I was not rushing due to Visa running out, I would have camp there another 2 more night but such is the nature of travel Visa.

The Famous View of Xingpeng



Local ferry boat Xingpeng

Traveled on: Dec 2023

Friday 12 April 2024

Electric Biking around Yangshou

We took the local bus to the main bus station in Guilin which was quite a way south and somehow Zaine figured that taking a tout bus was better than the goverment one. Initial tout price offered was RMB 30/pax and final bargain price was RMB 15 for one person. 

Quite a long journey too around 40km to Yangshou and we made it in a good price I suppose. For me it does not really matter for the half price RMB 15 (Official Bus was RMB 30/pax) but the risk was unknown. If I were alone, this was a bad decision due to the unknown risk but I had Zaine company which effectively reduce the risk by half.

Yangshou Old Town

Lijiang River at Yangshou


Yangshou was stayed at a local hostel but we got a private room for RMB 35 each. I guess patnering up with Zaine really save up quite a few bucks by sharing accomodation. It helps too that he belived everyone is out to cheat him so had no issue asking for more than half the price discount everytime. 

The hostel turn out to be a great stay as the host and people staying at the hostel all had a good conversation exchange in the lobby.

First day in Yangshou, just chill and walk around the pedestrian street while figuring out the electric bike rental. We end up not bargaining for the bike which was rare for Zaine but I guess a full day rental of RMB 30 was well worth it.

Electric Bike for Rent

We went for the popular loop around Yangshou which was interesting on its own but skipped most of the attraction along the route as each one of them required a ticket. Only willing to part with RMB 20, we saw the only attraction which was the Banyan Tree including a small bamboo ride across a 20m wide still river.

Yangshou and surrounding was definately a new experience biking around China. Nowhere else in China no matter how touristy did we see something like this. Before we know it, we made the whole loop going almost 70km. 

Tianlai Butterfly Spring Spot

Darongshu Scenic Area 

Banyan Tree - Yangshou

The rental shop told us it was a 40km loop but I guess we kept venturing off the loop and with many U-Turns we actually cloacked 70km. The electric bikes maxed out at 40km/hr and battery only drop to half after using the whole day.

The second night in Yangshou we got home cooked meal from the hostel reception. The guy was a good cook and invited us for dinner. I tried to pay but he would not accept it and more or less treated the whole hostel guess to dinner. 

Scooting Around Yangshou on a Electric Bike

Longtan Village 

There was a girl that could speak a little english which had worked in Africa for a year once upon a time. She was just travelling around china for now, a retired old man which was also travelling for fun, a tik tocker young man of 20 which was bycycling around China and surviving by doing soooo many tik tok stream that he had nearly 10k followers. 

They say its nothing in China to have 10k followers ... its peanuts, but he earns barely enaugh to be a proper digital nomad which in my opinion a great pay which allow travel forever.

Traveled on: Dec 2023

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Visiting Guilin City

As we make our way from Nanyue to Guilin, we were back on a tourist trail. A famous one in fact since its Guilin. Still it was a nice pace travelling without having to do much intensive research.

Waking up late afternoon in Guilin after a long journey, it was time to get out of the hostel, find food and explore. Guilin City felt like an underrated destination. Most people seams to sell the river cruise of Guilin to Yangshou and that Guilin was just a stopover point to get to Yangshou. 

Sun & Moon Pagoda in Guilin 

Two River & Four Lakes Garden Walk 

I find Guilin a lovely city, beautiful with many gardens and just busy enaugh that it was not cosmopolitan white wash.

We walked around aimlessly and stumble upon the pedestrian walking street and they were full of tourist trinkets. Park walk at night was filled with live street performances of locals and it was one of those places where there is not much to do yet so easy to burn time wandering around. I decided to stay another night the next day and felt Zaine was a bit hesitant but did not want to voice out.

Guilin Zhengyang Road Pedestrian Walking Street

Dongxi Lane Scenic Shopping District 

Xiaoyao Building - Guilin 

Street Performers in Guilin

The second day after much info probing from the hostel reception lady at night, we decided to skip the solidarity mountain scenic attraction which house the prince palace. The entrance ticket was a costly RMB100 and the hostel lady hesitantly recommended another mountain for the hike which was free.

We looks like poor but healthy backpackers hence she told us the info. The hike was not pure steps but rugged through rough stones and with the last portions mostly scrambling up a large rock with no safety barriers which was way too dangerous for sane people to be doing it.

Krast Mountain Around Guilin City

The Best View in Guilin 

Guilin City

The view at the very top however was the best view in Guilin in my opinion. Totally worth hanging out another day in Guilin just for this excursion.

Traveled on : Dec 2023