The city is well designed for defence, armed with both a ring of hills and two rivers that form a sort of moat. Nonetheless, the Japanese bombarded the city in 1944 and occupied it successfully.

At the centre is a tall hill with a pagoda on top.

Central Guilin

Central Guilin

Dad mentions that he visited a cave that was used as an air raid shelter and could hold about 15000 people. He is referring to Seven Star cave, which is another feature of the extraordinary limestone landscape. It continues on and on under the hills and at one point it is on two levels so that, if you stamp your foot, it sounds hollow underfoot. These days the cave is lit up like a Christmas tree.

One small part of Seven Star cave

One small part of Seven Star cave

We also visited Elephant Trunk hill, which looks like an elephant dipping its trunk into the river. We had the most delicious lunch at Chunji restaurant  – scallops with chilli and garlic, with beans, aubergine and spring onion, followed by water chestnuts in toffee batter – yum (I think I’m going a bit native)!

Elephant Trunk hill

Elephant Trunk hill

I couldn’t resist the opportunity to see a panda, in the zoo at Guilin. They seem to engage with people and have rather similar body language, particularly when it comes to lounging postures.


The flight to Guiyang was delayed and then turned out to be more like a bus, with a 10 minute stop on the way. Turned out that the stop made the journey equivalent to flying from London to Edinburgh via Paris. Didn’t get in till midnight, but Guiyang looks much more modern and sophisticated than I was expecting. It is on a plateau at about 5000ft and is the meeting place for cold winds from Siberia to the west and warm winds from the pacific to the east. The result? Near constant cloud and fog. Super.

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