My Very First Li River Cruise (Part 1)

Posted by : foongpc | Monday, August 31, 2009 | Published in


Before I continue blogging about my China trip, I would like to thank those of you who have voted for Mariah Carey on MixFM. And because of your support, Mariah made the biggest leap up the MixFM's Top 20 Chart this week!

From 12th position last week, she went up 4 steps to 8th position putting her in the Top 10. Thank you all! If you are a fan of Mariah, please do not stop voting. Let's get her to No.1, shall we?

OK, coming back to my China trip, instead of continuing from where I left off in my last China post, I have decided to fast forward to my 5th day in China. That was the day when I, Jam and his friend went for the fantastic cruise on the famous Li River!

See this picture?

hills 38

This is the photo I took while on board the tour boat.

Going on this cruise had to be one of my most memorable experiences of my 10 days in China. The stunning scenery along the Li River is reminiscent of those old Chinese paintings of river and mountain landscapes. If you happen to visit Guilin, you must not miss this cruise!

Do you recall that I sat on that flimsy looking raft on the Li River to visit The Elephant Trunk Hill? Most of you commented that the raft looked like it could sink at any time. Haha! Well, this time, we were not on that type of raft, but on a big boat. In fact, the boat had 2 levels and was fully air conditioned with open decks on the top level for observing the scenery.

This is how the boats looked like.


We left our hostel in Guilin early in the morning on a tour bus which took us to the Mo Pang Pier. We were asked if we wanted to sit at the top deck which would cost an additional 20 yuan per person, although the seats were limited. Since we thought that being on the top deck would be easier to capture all the beautiful sceneries, we decided to go for it.

It took some time before we could board our tour boat. I could not help feeling that the tour was a little disorganised as we were kept waiting and no one informed us if we managed to get the seats at the top deck. Besides, the three of us lost sight of the group of tourists from the same bus as ours so that at one point we were actually wondering if they had all boarded the boat without us!

In the end however, our tour guide came to us and gave us the tickets and asked us to board the boat. I thought we were supposed to go in a group and she was supposed to lead the way! Well, no one led us to our boat and we had to find the way ourselves! Can you imagine that?

Fortunately, we managed to find our way. This is the Mo Pang Pier where many boats were docking.


There were many stalls along the walkway selling fruits and tidbits.

Port 2

We boarded the boat and went up the stairs to the top deck.

on board the cruise

I forgot to take photos of the interior! Oh well, never mind. The interior was nothing much to shout about. Our seats were right at the back (which was actually the front of the boat) and it was just nice since we were nearest to the door and therefore, we would be the first to go out to the open front deck! Talking about kiasuness. Haha!

on board the cruise 3

The cruise was expected to last about 4 hours as we were to travel about 83 km along the Li River until we reach Yangshuo. There would be no boat returning from Yangshuo so the only alternative is to take a 90-minute journey on a bus or any land transportation back to Guilin.

Anyway, we had no plans to return so soon to Guilin as we had wanted to visit all the famous tourist spots in Yangshuo and spend two nights there. I will talk more about Yangshuo in my future posts.

The boat was supposed to depart at 10am and we were supposed to reach Yangshuo at 2pm to meet back up again with our tour guide who would bring us to the famous tourist spots in Yangshuo.

But it was already 15 minutes past 10am, and droves of people were still getting up the boat!

Port 4

It was only at 10.30am that our boat was ready to leave. We were half an hour behind time! But I was not really bothered as I was too excited anticipating what was coming up ahead.

boats 2.2

Leaving the pier, I saw many other boats behind and in front of us.

boat 3

I like this boat! Don't you think it looked nice?

boat 4.2

Oh, here's another similar one passing us by!

boat 5.2

Of course, not all were big boats! There were small ones too like this one.

small boat

And even smaller ones like those rafts that I sat on when I visited Elephant Trunk Hill! I wouldn't dream of sitting on those rafts here as I did not want to be mowed down by the bigger boats! Haha!

small boats

Although we could see the scenery from inside the boat, I had to leave the comforts of the air conditioning and go out to the open deck to take pictures.

This is the open deck area where many people would gather to take pictures of the beautiful scenery all around them. At this moment, most were still inside their air conditioned boat so not many were outside.

on board the cruise 5

Oh, I accidentally took a photo of this lady and she smiled at me!

on board the cruise 6.2

Can you see the hills formation in the background? There were many of such limestone karst hills all along Li River and many of them have unique structures. And guess what? Every formation has a name to it!

Names like Yearning For Husband Rock, Writing Brush Peak, River Snail Hill, Five Fingers Hill and so on. I guess part of the fun was in identifying all these formation with their unique names!

Is it any wonder that most people would go out onto the open deck and jostle with one another to take photos of these beautiful hill formations?

taking photos

Well, me and Jam decided to stand rooted at one spot so that no one could have the slightest chance of taking over our places. I am sorry but kiasuness definitely ruled that day! Haha!

Now if you want to see some pretty nice scenery along Li River, don't miss my next post coming right up!


Help! I'm Obsessed With Digi And Mariah Carey!

Posted by : foongpc | Friday, August 28, 2009 | Published in


Hi everyone! My laptop is still in the HP Intensive Care Unit. Looks like the H1N1 really did it this time! Luckily, I have saved most of my files earlier so I'm pretty sure I will not be losing any important data.

Since I am using someone else's computer, I will have to keep my post short. Well, a short post is better than no post, right?

I have two things I would like to mention today. First, do you all know about the free unlimited downloading of music at Digi website?

You can download some of the latest chart toppers to your handphone or computer at zero cost! This is valid for first 30 days, after which you need to pay just RM5 per month. You can also stop subscribing at any time by sending an sms to Digi. Is that cool or what?

Sounds too good to be true right, so is there a catch? Of course! You need to sign up with Digi to enjoy this free unlimited downloading of songs!

I just had a great time downloading all my latest favourite songs from Lady Gaga to Eminem to Colbie Caillat to Mariah Carey to Akon to Rihanna to Daughtry to Beyonce to The Script to ... oh, just about every artists you know!

Thank you, Digi! Now did you hear that Digi is named Malaysia's most admired company for innovation by Wall Street Journal Asia for the third year running? I cannot agree more.

So quick! If you are not with Digi, switch over now!!

OK, the second thing is you all know I am a huge fan of Mariah Carey right? Her latest single, "Obsessed" is unfortunately not climbing up the charts. OK, I admit it's not a terribly good song, but if you give it a chance, and listen to it long enough, you might just find yourself liking it. It has a number of good hooks that I like.

By the way, "Obsessed" is her way of getting back at Eminem for dissing her and her husband in his song "Bagpipes From Baghdad" so you may want to listen to the lyrics from both Mariah and Eminem's songs carefully.

So since I'm so depressed with my laptop still in the Intensive Care Unit in HP Hospital, can you help cheer me up? It's very easy to cheer me up, you know.

Here's how. Just go to MixFM and vote for Mariah Carey's latest song "Obsessed". Click on the vote button and you are done! Won't take more than 10 seconds! Easy right?

Now while you are it, please don't start clicking on all the other songs please! I know, I know. You may prefer Colbie Caillat's "Falling For You" which is my favourite song too or Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" which is OK to me, but please don't do that yes?

I want Mariah Carey to end up at the top of the MixFM's chart for one thing, to help her promote the song and another, so that I can listen to it when I switch on my radio while driving! Haha! Thank you all for this favour!

Now you all know how Mariah's songs almost always end up No.1 on the charts! Haha! Just kidding! : )

Help! My Laptop Is Infected With H1N1!

Posted by : foongpc | Wednesday, August 26, 2009 | Published in


Today's post will be short. Really short. I mean really, really short.

The reason?

My laptop is infected with H1N1.

OK, I am kidding.

Such a lame joke, isn't it?

I know you are not laughing. Especially those of you who are patiently waiting for more photos from my China trip.

Sorry about that.

Really sorry about that.

Really, really sorry about that.

Now do you see I am trying to lengthen this post? Haha!

OK, just a quick one. I am not blogging using my laptop today. It's gone away to HP hospital for some fixing. To get rid of H1N1 that infected it. Damn H1N1!

Infect humans and animals not good enough and now you want to take over my beloved laptop?

I am blogging from someone else's computer and I don't want to take too long. Sorry cannot blog hop today. Will miss reading all your posts!

Yesterday, I realized something was wrong when my I logged into my blog. Windows just closed suddenly. I restarted it but it closed again within 5 seconds. I tried again and the same thing happened.

I was totally horrified. I was like, no! No! No! No! Nooooooooooo!!!!

I was not exactly worried about my laptop. So much about beloved laptop. Haha!

My main concern was I could not blog!

I was wondering how long I could last without blogging?

Hmmm, I didn't blog during my 10 days in China. That's quite a feat, no?

OK, actually I did go online and peek a little. But fortunately or unfortunately, China banned blogspot. So I ended up reading all your comments from my gmail. And could not update my blog.

I guess I would survive this one too. Worse comes to worse, I'll just go cold turkey right? Wrong!

No way I'm going cold turkey. By the way, the H1N1 got to the turkey too in case you didn't know. Haha!

Maybe I'll just drop by MPH and use their computer. Or visit any cybercafes for that matter. Although I hate cybercafes. They only use Internet Explorer and I absolutely hate IE!

How come they don't use Mozilla Firefox? Oh I know! The H1N1 must have gotten to the Fox too! Damn! Looks like even the sly Fox could not outsmart the pesky virus!!

Did I say this is going to be a quick one? Wait, let me scroll up to check.

Yes I did! Gosh, it didn't seem like a quick one, did it?

What to do? Old habits die hard.

By the way, if you have read until here, congratulations! You are officially my fan! Thank you!

And now if you don't mind, please leave some comments to entertain me while I bore myself to death without my laptop! Boo hoo!

I will try to read your comments from my handphone if H1N1 did not get to it first, that is.

Have a great day, everyone! And make sure you update your anti-H1N1 program! You don't want to suffer the same fate as me, do you?

Do You Do Household Chores?

Posted by : foongpc | Monday, August 24, 2009 | Published in


There are two types of people in this world.

The first type do household chores. The second type don't.

So which type are you?

Well, not sure if I am supposed to be proud or not, but I belong to the first type. Now isn't that a surprise to most of you since men usually don't do household chores? Or at least that's what I've been led to believe. Real men don't do chores, do they? In fact, most men find that chores are, well, a chore!

But you know what? I think ladies are not that much different. I think they find household chores boring! No? Oh, come on, admit it, ladies! Otherwise, why would you bother to pressure your partner or your other half to share all the housework?

Now those of you who are fortunate enough not to do any household chores must be laughing at me. Well, laugh all you want! It's not that I can't afford a maid or a servant to do all those chores. I choose not to employ them.

Now did I hear some sniggers?

OK, OK. I admit. I can't afford to employ them to clean my house. But that's not the main reason why I don't employ maids or servants. The major reason is that I don't think they can do the job as good as me! Call me fussy or whatever! But if you can't satisfy me, then I don't feel like paying you! Oh, this doesn't sound right, does it?

Ok, let me just rephrase that! What I'm trying to say is, if you can't clean the house the way I want it to be cleaned, then I don't feel it is worth my money paying you to do the job!

Might as well I clean it myself, right?

The last time I got an Indian lady to scrub my toilet, she broke a few of my toilet tiles! Goodness, was she Superwoman in disguise or what!

And I wouldn't dream of getting an Indonesian maid! My sister's first Indonesian maid did not know how to hold the broom and turn the tap and my sister had to teach her! Can you believe it?

Her second maid almost committed suicide in her house and that was a major scare for her!

Her third one irritated her so much that she finally decided to live without a maid! So no Indonesian maid for me, thank you!

But doing all these chores myself are tiring and awfully time consuming! And for those of you who have never done any household chores before and are living like princes or princesses, let me give you the low down on the types of household chores that exist in my part of the world.

1. sweep floor
2. mop floor
3. wipe windows
4. wipe ceiling fans
5. wash bathroom
6. wash clothes
7. dry clothes
8. iron clothes
9. wash dishes
10. dust tables and chairs and shelves

There may be other chores, but these are the main ones. Of all these chores, I hate washing the bathroom the most! Yet, in my house, I am known as the "Toilet Cleaner". Yes, that means I am solely responsible for making sure the toilets in my house are always clean and spotless.

Comics courtesy of Mark Stivers

That's a tough job as I have three toilets in my house! I am seriously considering locking up one of the toilets! Less work for me, haha!

I don't mind washing clothes because all you need to do is just dump the whole lot into the washing machine, right? Wrong! To me, I need to scrub that collar part of a shirt because somehow the washing machine can't do the job of removing sweat stains from the collars! I really think they should come out with more intelligent washing machines. But luckily, washing clothes is not part of my job. It's my brother's. Haha!

Washing clothes is one thing, but I really think ironing clothes is worse. It has to be one of the most tiring and irritating chores! I simply hate to iron clothes! I think I will just wear wrinkle free shirts and T shirts from now on!

I used to mop the floor every 2-3 days. Now you'll be lucky to find me mop the floor once a week. No wonder my mom keeps complaining nowadays! Maybe I should get that robot to help me clean the floor. You know, that cute round machine that cleans your floor as it runs around on its own? Wonder how effective is that robot?

But you know what? Even though I detest household chores, I have a strange liking to one chore. Want to know which one? Call me insane or whatever, but I love washing the dishes! Yes, you read that right! Don't ask me to cook, but wash the dishes? Give it to me, baby!

I really don't know why but I like to see the bowls and plates squeaky clean. Maybe I am abnormal, but it's been like this since I was small. Washing the dishes makes me happy.

But wait. That does not mean not washing the dishes will make me unhappy. That's an entirely different thing altogether. To clear this up, let me just say that I prefer not having to wash the dishes, but if I have to, it's perfectly fine!

So anyone want to invite me to your house and cook a nice meal for me? In return I will wash the dishes for you! Sounds like a good deal, no?


The Elephant Trunk Hill

Posted by : foongpc | Friday, August 21, 2009 | Published in


After our very first lunch at the fine restaurant in Guilin, we set out to visit the famous landmark Elephant Trunk Hill.

Known as Xiangbi Shan in Chinese, the Elephant Trunk Hill is a must-visit for any first time visitor to Guilin. It is so called because the hill resembles an elephant with its trunk drinking water from the river.

Located at the western bank of the Li River, it was a short distance from the Backstreet Youth Hostel where we stayed.

With the aid of a map, we walked along the bank of Li River which ran parellel to Binjiang Road.

li river bank

I thought it was a such a nice place to walk! It looked almost like a park to me with its wide walkway and shady trees! I have even seen Chinese dancing classes conducted for tourists on this walkway!

This is the view of the famous Li River from the place where we walked.

li river view

As we headed to our destination, we were approached by a lady who offered us a trip to see the Elephant Trunk Hill on board a raft on the Li River itself!

This was my first experience of Chinese tourism and it would not be my last. It seemed that every where we go, there would be locals offering us trips and tour packages. Guilin is definitely a tourist city as many locals are working in the tourism industry.

The advantage of this is that you will never ever get lost because at every corner, there would be people offering to help you with directions and recommending places to visit. The down side is of course, some of them could be a bit too persistent and irritating.

Since my Mandarin was really bad, I left it to Jam and his friend to deal with these "tour agents".

It so happened that this particular lady made an irresistible offer to us. She said that it would cost us 15 yuan each for admission fees to enter the Elephant Trunk Hill. And we would not be able to see the shape of the hill properly on land.

Whereas if we were to go on a raft on the Li River, we would be able to view the Elephant Trunk Hill in its entirety. And it would cost us only about 13 yuan each!

We were sold! And so we followed the lady and made our way to the raft waiting for us.

This is how the raft looked like.

man on raft 2

It ran on a motor engine. And it could seat up to 7 people, or more if you don't mind packing it in.

In the beginning I sat in front. But after being splashed with water, I decided to sit in the middle on the return journey and let Jam and his friend sat in front. Haha! No wonder everyone chose to sit at the back!


Look at the waves created by the raft when it sped across the river!

waves on raft

It would be impossible to stay dry if you sat in front!

As we sat there in the raft enjoying the view, we saw a ferry passed us.


And other rafts just like the one we were sitting on.

raft 10

Look at that man in front. How clever of him to use an umbrella to keep himself dry! Haha!

raft 6

This looks like a group of fugitives escaping from their country on a raft! Just kidding, haha!

on the river 4

Ooh! This couple must have booked the whole raft! Unfortunately the river did not have a very romantic setting. Maybe they should return during the sunset. Haha!

We also went under a bridge.

bridge 2


And then, we saw it!

raft 2

Did that look like an elephant? No, not really.

But it became clearer as we got closer.

raft 5

Still no elephant.

Heck, where's the elephant?

Finally, we saw it.... the Elephant Trunk Hill!

elephant trunk hill 1.2

I just clicked away with my camera. Now moving closer and at a slightly different angle, can you see the rock formation that resembles an elephant dipping its trunk into the water for a drink?

elephant trunk hill 3.2

Here is another view of the Elephant Trunk Hill taken from yet another angle.

elephant trunk hill 7

Actually, there's a legend about this hill that tells about an elephant which belonged to the Emperor of Heaven. The elephant had came down to Earth to help the people in their work and this angered the Emperor, who stabbed the elephant while it was drinking at the river's edge and turned it into stone.

I am not a believer of such legends, but I guess they have a legend for every landmark, don't they?

elephant trunk hill 8

Do you see that cave between the body of the elephant and its trunk? It's called "Moon Over Water Cave". Although we did not get to step into the cave, I learnt that on the walls of the cave were many inscriptions from the Tang and Song dynasties. Seems that the interesting shape of the cave had inspired many ancient poets and writers to engrave verses on its walls.

On the top of the hill, which is about 165 feet above water, stands the Puxian Pagoda (erected during the Ming dynasty) which shaped like the handle of the dagger that killed the elephant.

It's too bad we were not able to see the cave up close. I think we would be able to visit the cave if we had entered on land paying that 15 yuan admission fee. Then again, we would have missed the wonderful view from the river! So it's a trade off, I guess.

Our river trip did not stop there. We reached the other side of the river bank where many rafts were docking there and were asked to get down.

raft 8

Looked to me like a place to milk tourists' money! You could pay money to have your photos taken. Or your portrait drawn.

But I was interested to see a girl dressed in traditional Chinese costume posing for the cameras.


And there were stalls selling fried stuffs.

fried food stall 3

There were fried fish, prawns, crabs and God-knows-what all placed nicely on sticks!

fried food 2

Then I saw the seller placing live crabs on a stick and dipping them into the flour before frying them alive in the hot oil!

live crabs 2

Look at those poor crabs! Still alive and kicking being dipped into the flour mixture.

live crabs

When the lady seller saw us took photos and did not make any attempt to buy, she hid the crabs from our view as a show of protest! Now, now, I'm not sure if I like this kind of attitude.

Anyway, I was not in the mood to eat fried oily stuffs as the sun was hot and I was sweating profusely. But Jam bought one stick (forgotten what he ate but definitely not the crabs!) anyway. He said it was delicious!

After that, we got back onto the raft for our journey back to land.

going back

It was indeed an enjoyable trip. Not only did we get to see the famous Elephant Trunk Hill but we got to enjoy our first taste of traveling on the Li River.


My First Meal In Guilin

Posted by : foongpc | Wednesday, August 19, 2009 | Published in


After checking into the overrated Backstreet Youth Hostel and taking a short rest, we went out for lunch.

We came across this restaurant and decided to have lunch there.

restaurant front

If you can read Chinese, you would know that it is called Xi Shui Cui Yu Xuan. Now my Mandarin sucks so I wouldn't know the meaning of that! I could only recognise the characters shui (water) and yu (fish). Luckily though, Jam translated for me and it means "a small restaurant for fresh fish from the stream" or something like that.

In fact, throughout my whole trip, I had to rely on Jam and his friend to help with conversing with the locals. I really do not know how I would cope if I went there on my own! So if you plan to travel to China alone, make sure you know how to converse in Mandarin. At least know the basics!

The interior of the restaurant was quite cosy.

restaurant interior

And I liked the way they had the eating utensils all nicely wrapped and sealed. Very hygienic indeed!

plate and bowls 2

These were what we ate.

pork and yam in bamboo

Dong-po pork. It is actually pork meat and yam cooked in bamboo. Really nice and delicious!

yam in bamboo

The yam were mostly located at the bottom after we had eaten the pork at the top.


We also had long beans with bittergourd.

soup 2.2

And soup with mushrooms.

Of course, as in a typical Chinese meal, we must have rice! So here's my plate of rice with the side dishes.

my plate

Oh, I must not forget to mention the tea. Yes, they have this very nice luo han guo tea!

lo han guo tea

I could not stop drinking it! And it felt so good on my throat especially after walking outside in the hot sun!

Luo han guo fruits are grown mainly in the mountains of Guilin. They are also found in other parts of China but mostly in the Southwestern Chinese province of Guangxi, where Guilin is located. It is said that the mountains lend the plants shadows and are often surrounded by mists, thereby protecting the plants from the sun.

Is it any wonder that during my stay in Guilin, I could see many road side stalls and shops selling the luo han guo fruits!

For the uninitiated, this is how the fresh fruits on the tree look like.

They are green in colour but I have yet to see them being sold in the fresh form. The ones that were sold in the night market and road side stalls were usually the dried form, in brown colour. Like the photo which I took from the night market below. (bottom left)

luo han guo 2

I guess the fruit cannot be stored in the fresh form, so you never see people eat it fresh. In fact, it is never really eaten. The dried fruit is instead, cut open and boiled in water to make a sweet aromatic drink.

For your information, luo han guo is especially beneficial for health and is most useful for heatstroke, cough, sore throat and other respiratory problems. It also acts as a natural sweetener. In fact, it is 300 times sweeter than sugar, but minus the high calories!

Now I am craving for that luo han guo tea! I wonder if the tea is sold in Malaysia! We actually came back to this restaurant for a second time during our trip to enjoy the good food and the luo han guo tea! But that would be a post for another day.

I was really satisfied with my very first meal in Guilin. The price of our lunch came to 46 yuan, which is just 15.33 yuan (or RM8) per person! I learnt that there was a special discount for lunch. Now is that cheap or what!

Coming up next : The Elephant Trunk Hill