Drumbrake's Travels

My trip reports

Huangyao and Zhaoqing

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Thorntree post

March 2013 (Easter)

A short holiday in Hong Kong and a desire to get away. Huangyao (黄姚古鎮) has been on the radar for a long time, and posts that were on thorntree are back.  First decision was how to get there.  Several options.

Getting there

We decided on this one:  MTR (45 mins) to Lo Wu and cross border; train from Shenzhen to Guangzhou (1 hour 30mins, 79.50 rmb) ; bus (4 hours 30 mins, 115 rmb) from Guangdong Provincial Passenger Bus Station to  Hezhou (Babu) in Guangxi 廣西省賀州市 where we stayed the night.  The bus was scheduled to leave at 4:30, but did not until to closer to 5pm, and arrived after 9pm. We were at the bus station before 3:30, but I don’t think there was a bus at that time.

We were able to get tickets for the Shenzhen  – Guangzhou train using the ticket machine which scanned my passport. before, you had to get from the ticket window if you did not have Chinese id. All tickets had your passport number / ID printed on them.

We’d probably not go that route again. Instead, there is a direct bus from Hong Kong to Wuzhou which takes around 6 hours. While 6 hours on a bus is a long time, it’s probably better than the journey we took.

Other options would include getting a bus direct from Shenzhen, or getting a through train from Hung Hom to Guangzhou (we didn’t do that because it goes to Guangzhou East, and the bus station we wanted was near Guangzhou station).

Hezhou

The setting is great, with the conical hills surrounding the town; but the town itself was grey, and not much in the way of eating places at least in the vicinity of the Guangxi Hezhou International Hotel (388 rmb) where we stayed.  The hotel was the standard Chinese one; free wifi in the lobby; forgettable breakfast in the morning.

Getting to Huangyao

The bus from Guangzhou had dropped us at Hezhou bus station, where a taxi into town had cost 30 rmb (no meter). Probably negotiable, but we just wanted to get to the hotel at that point, and heavy rain seemed imminent.

So, the next morning we were faced with getting back to the bus station and then finding the next bus to Huangyao, or getting a taxi to take us there direct. The first taxi driver said 300 rmb. The second said 220 rmb, and came down to 200 rmb. We took the offer. The trip took an hour, and was mainly on fast highway. I could see a local bus taking much longer (although would be much cheaper).

The taxi journey had the normal elements – taxi driver needs to stop first to fill up with gas; taxi driver calls friend and drives around to pick him up – turns out the friend was a trainee driver who was taught the route; taxi driver then gets a little lost near Huangyao. But we get there in the end.

Huangyao – entrance tickets and accommodation

Entrance ticket was 100 rmb. There are student discounts (50 rmb) that might be available. You are given a ticket and a sticker to wear, but I’m not sure if we were checked after the first time entering the old town (but then I was the only foreigner in the place).  There are other entrances to the old town, so perhaps you could get in without paying.

We looked at the place listed in LP – Hexing Yizhan – to stay. It’s ok with basic rooms for around 100 rmb. Instead, the first night we stayed in Yanimu Inn for a nicer room at 180 rmb (probably over priced for what it was).

The second night we stayed in Ayao’s Inn – very nice place at 138 rmb a night. There is also a place called Booker Inn which had ok rooms, plus there are several other options along the main (only) street of the old town. Finding somewhere to stay should not be a problem.

As has been mentioned elsewhere, plumbing is a bit of a problem in Huangyao. We saw some upstairs places which looked nice, but were told we would need to use the bathroom on the ground floor.

Wifi is almost ubiquitous in the old town.  Seems every guesthouse has it.

Huangyao Eating

The place is famous for its doufu – we ate at Hexing Yizhan a couple of times; good food and the wife there speaks some English.

We also ate at Booker Inn – for two people you are paying around 100 rmb for 2-3 dishes and rice and tea.

There were not that many other options in the old town. Outside the old town you can get simple noodle dishes for a few rmb.

Tour groups

We were there first on a Friday, and did not see much in the way of tour groups. There were some, but not intrusive. On the Saturday and Sunday morning there were more, but again not too bad – but perhaps the bad weather and heavy rain put them off from coming.

Sights

Lots of photographers in the town, and the locals are now understandably a bit fed up of being photographed. Head to the Shichang Lvshe (Market Hotel) in the new town and go up to the 6th floor for a good view of the town. On the way down, the old woman will probably charge you 5 rmb!

Huangyao from roof of market hotel

Boatman in Huangyao

Alley in Huangyao

Huangyao – farming

Leaving

There are buses out of Huangyao to Hezhou and Wuzhou, but I think you need to get out of the old town and head to one of the places nearby to actually catch the bus. All a little confusing and I’m not much help.

We found out that there was a bus around 2pm to Wuzhou, so we caught a shared ‘tuk tuk’ (2 rmb each, 15 min) to Zhaoping Gong Bridge ( 廣西省昭平市鞏橋車站) where there is a decrepit bus station. The bus to Wuzhou was 55 rmb a person, and taxi drivers started at 500 rmb for the journey. There were 4 of us, and as soon as the bus ticket window opened, the taxi driver came down to 300 rmb for the trip to Wuzhou. This took 90 minutes, most of the journey on fast highway. We were left at one of the bus stations in Wuzhou, but probably not the main one.

Bus from Wuzhou to Zhaoqing in Guangdong

Cost 50 rmb and took 3 hours as it went along the road following the Xi River. I think years ago I must have sailed up the river on an overnight boat from Guangzhou to Wuzhou. That would have been a nicer way to travel than bus, although the smog means views are now limited. There is a highway from Wuzhou heading east, but I’m not sure which buses use it. I’d guess using the highway would mean the trip length would be halved between Wuzhou and Zhaoqing.

Zhaoqing

I can see the attraction of Zhaoqing, with the lakes and mountains and lots of greenery, but in the haze, it looses it somewhat. We stayed in Zhaoqing Shanshui Trends Hotel (266 rmb) – one of the chain type hotels which are pretty good value. Breakfast was again forgettable, although wifi is available throughout the hotel.

The Seven Star Crags Park

Entry is 60 rmb, and I guess worth it. We were there on a Monday, and there were not many people. If the sky was clear, it would be a nice place to go, and you could easily spend a whole day there.

‘View’ of Zhaoqing from one of the crags

Dinghu Shan would be a place to see on another trip to Zhaoqing – we’ll pick a time with better weather though.

There are some old city walls  to see in the city, but not that attractive. The lakes make it quite a nice place to live, and lots of new apartments have been built (but not sold?); the pollution did put me off.

Back to Hong Kong

We ended up catching the direct train to Hung Hom from Zhaoqing (departs 15:30, arrives 19:30, cost 190 rmb). We bought tickets the same morning. It’s an easy way to get back.

Overall

Huangyao – highly recommended. Stay a night or two.

Zhaoqing – if you have the time, worth seeing, but hope for clear skies.

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Written by drumbrake

April 4, 2013 at 11:50 am

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