We’d seen my best friend Meiqi on her way home, we’d earned three “free” t-shirts featuring Bruce Lee from the hostel from drinking so much, and we’d crossed pretty much everything we’d wanted to do off our list. It was time to head home, but our flight didn’t leave until that night. So my fiance, Nate, and I ate breakfast at the hostel, and then out we went to explore the city one last time. At this point our budgeted money for the trip was running low, so a walk along the thin river we had passed on our first day in Guilin seemed like a welcome change.
We watched ducks swim in the water as we passed rickety old houseboats moored along the side of the water. We were tired but in high spirits, and it was almost even sunny out!
Peoples belongings were spread out across the shore and there were gardens all along the river banks. Tangles of net and rope decorated the path, and we used concrete blocks piled into steps to part ourselves from their personal lives.
Passed the house boats were large cruise boats that beside their haggard neighbours looked like luxury yachts.
Eventually our walk came to an end at a set of gates that guarded another expensive park. We turned around and found a seat on a bench that sat under a pink flowering tree where butterflies fluttered from it’s succulent blossoms. We sat and read for a bit and only left when we got hungry.
I decided to walk through the gardens along the rivers edge. At first it was gorgeous, but the further along we got the more tangled and wild it became as we left the houseboats behind us. The path I was following grew narrow, and the plants brushed against my legs. The path brought me closer and closer o the water, the dirty, murky, polluted water. A dead animal of one type or another lay bloated in the shallows and as the grasses grew taller, and the gardens fewer, the dead animal wouldn’t leave my mind. My legs grew itchy, as if the vines were crawling up them and wrapping green leafy fingers around my skin. “Hey Nate!” I called to my fiance who was on the top path. “Help me, I’m running out of path.”
It took three tries before I finally found a piece of pipe I could jam my foot in to help give myself a boost. We laughed the whole time despite the fact that my arm nearly got torn from my shoulder, but when I was finally up top I just felt dirty and wanted to return to the hostel and scrub my hands clean.
We ordered lunch at the hostel to go, took the airport shuttle to catch our plane, and after a delay and a layover we finally made it home to polluted Jinan.