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Today was the start of the next leg of our trip. Later in the day we would be flying to Guilin and visiting Yangshuo and the rice fields of Longsheng. We were looking forward to this leg due to the success of our last trip to Yangshuo. But we were also a bit worried, the weather didn't look promising and an outdoor holiday in rain, wasn't really what we were hoping for.

We were up early, breakfasted and said goodbye to the great people at the guest house. Yanmei and Daji took pictures of the waitresses before we embarked upon the 2 hour journey to Taiyuan by taxi. The Tian Yuan Kui Guesthouse can be highly recommended - the rooms are fine, the location great, the staff fantastic and the food excellent. If we ever return it will because of the hotel, Pingyao was certainly a worth the visit, but I'm not sure it's worth more than the one visit.

Steven had taken hundred's of pictures of life, people and sights of Pingyao - some displayed on the previous pages. Here are some of the pictures Steven took of the children of Pingyao.

The taxi trip was fairly uneventful, the scenery as grey and dusty as Pingyao had been, and we arrived at the airport with a couple of hours to spare. Steven almost had a heart attack because our plane wasn’t listed amongst the departures (originally it was supposed to depart at 9:30 and was later moved to 12:30, so Steven immediately thought the plane had departed). It turned out that the final destination was listed as the plane continued after stopping in Guilin. Check-in went smoothly, the flight left on time and was fairly uneventful - and we even got a sandwich and cake - which was good as we hadn't eaten lunch.

We landed in a grey Guilin, with great views of the water filled rice fields that looked like mirrors as the sky and clouds reflect on the water. Our baggage came quickly and in little time at all we were in a taxi on the way to our hotel. Unlike most Europe countries where talking in the cell phone whilst driving is prohibited, this doesn’t seem to be the case in China, where the taxi driver was pre-occupied in making and taking calls. Suddenly she sticks the phone in my hand saying the call is for me! I’m not sure what the call is about, I think it was somebody trying to tell me that the hotel we’d booked wasn’t very safe and proposing a different hotel – but the line was bad, the taxi noisy and the person at the other end was difficult to understand. I cut the connection and the caller didn’t bother calling back!

Jessie, our guide in Yangshuo had booked two rooms for us at the Universal Hotel – it turned out that one would have been plenty. We had been in Guilin 18 months earlier, when we spent half a day walking around before taking the overnight train to Hong Kong. Last time we'd found it to be a great shopping town – and this time was no exception – we ended up buying winter jackets for Yanmei and Daji, shoes, belts and a skirt before we finally sat down for some cake and coffee – a terrible hot chocolate (the chocolate wouldn’t dissolve) and a fantastic strawberry milkshake for Daji (with lots of fresh strawberries). As always in China, the cakes look very impressive but always disappoint – lots of cream and little taste.

We saw the two pagoda's on the lake, we'd also seen them last time, but this time they were lit up and walked along the lake. It’s very rarely that we are disappointed with the food in China and choosing a restaurant that is full of Chinese and looks clean is generally a pretty safe bet. Next to one of the lakes is a massive restaurant with room for at least 300 people downstairs and more upstairs - and fitted the bill - clean and packed with locals. It was full and we dutifully waited our turn to be shown a table. The menu was extensive, but the food was somewhat exotic, snake, frog, dog, sheep eyes and trotters, pigs tail and lots of things with bones, which we always try and miss - as it isn't easy with chopsticks - you have to spit the bone out. We managed to find a handful of dishes that we felt comfortable with, but the food wasn’t great and we left disappointed – probably as the only people given how popular the restaurant seemed to be.

We continued along the lake and into a park with a larger lake, bridges, an "arc de triomphe", pagoda, lots of different statues and beautifully lit up. Many locals were out walking and enjoying the evening. We walked back to the hotel, we had to be up early the next morning. Daji slept with Steven, Yanmei with Lene – but as so often before when Lene sleeps alone, she had a bad night sleep.

NEXT DAY (6th)