China by train
We entered China from Hon Kong via the metro then headed to Guilin on the fast train from Shenzhen.
I was somehow expecting a sharp contrast from HongKong with more mess, chaos and dirt but it turned out to be the cleanest, fastest and most spacious train I have ever been on. When travelling by train in China allow lots of time for a number of security checks, luggage scans and for collecting your tickets and finding the right track. It can be very hard to find your way the first time especially as all the signs are in Chinese and very few people speak English.We also learned that you cannot pay by card anywhere so always carry all the cash you need before heading off to your next destination. As this was our 1st train journey here we had not planned for all of the above but luckily still made the train by the skin of our teeth!
1st stay in a Chinese hostel
Our Riverside hostel in Guilin was located in a great spot for walking along the river and to the city centre. This was our fist stay in a Chinese guesthouse and we were pleasantly surprised. This and other hostels offer good value for money for long term travel with basic accommodation, food and tourist services. Another positive feature when travelling with kids is the common space, internet and printer facilities usually on offer. The Riverside hostel had a football table that keep Scott and Ingrid entertained for hours while Paul and I got stuck into the detailed planning of our time in China. A basic menu offered a mix of basic western food and breakfast and common Chinese meals and snacks. You pay between £20-£40 for a family room in most towns but remember breakfast is usually not included. Worth noting is that almost all hostel have family rooms but 99% of these have 3 beds. To get 2 double beds or an extra mattress to accommodate 4 its best to contact the hostel in advance by email and ask for what you need.