Today’s adventure was to Seven Star Park. I didn’t find a lot of information about it except that the park also hosted a zoo, cave, and theme park for an additional charge. So, I thought that it was just a regular ol’ park. We could head over there, grab a picnic, and eat in the grass. As per usual in China, I was wrong.
Seven Star Park is a large area filled with small things to do. Most of those small things cost money… as does getting into the park. At the gate, we were given the option of a park ticket for ¥70, cave ticket for ¥55, or a combined ticket for ¥115 ($17.50). The price would have usually made us turn away, as the price of one combined ticket was nearly our entire daily budget. But we had already walked a long way to get there, so we each purchased a combined ticket, and went in.
The park hosts many mini hikes and adventures. Our first stop was the Square of China’s Glory. It is a little bit more like what I was picturing when I had envisioned the park. It had a big, open lawn with people picnicking, kids running around, that sort of thing. There was also a big art installation at the far end of the square, a mural painted onto a big semi-circular wall. We didn’t bring any food with us, and the stalls that were selling food were too expensive for our taste, so we didn’t end up getting our picnic after, but instead moved on and kept exploring.
Throughout the park, there are statues and paintings of animals, so when I came across a couple statues of monkeys, I didn’t think anything of it. Then a little farther in, I saw another statue… and it moved! Apparently, there are wild monkeys living in the park. We walked over to a park bench were several people were feeding them grapes. There were signs everywhere warning of getting bitten, complete with pictures of people’s bleeding wounds. We sat down on the benches and watched them for a while. They were peaceful and curious, hopping around in the trees and coming down when someone offered them food. Some of the people were quite aggressive toward the monkeys, which Josh did not like, but no one got bit, even though they kind of deserved it.
It took us a little while to realize that the smaller side paths were also for us to use. Once we figured that out, we set off up one of the hills within the park. Putuo Hill is one of the hill series that makes up the cave, and at the top is an area called Star Pavillion. It was a long and hot hike to the top, but definitely worth the view, as you could see most of the city from up there.
We hiked down the opposite side of the hill and headed for the cave entrance. We had hoped there would be food there (we still hadn’t eaten lunch) and that we could walk right in. Again, wrong on both counts. We walked up to the booth and confidently handed the guy our tickets, only to be told that we’d have to wait half an hour for the next tour. So, at 2pm, we joined the crowd for a Chinese language guided tour of the Seven Star Cave.
We did our best to look like we understood what the tour guide was saying, but only really caught a few words here and there. The cave is huge! Maybe it was the hunger talking, but it felt like we walked for miles through lighted caverns and formations.
The tour was 45 minutes long and, for the most part, was informational (I can only guess from the amount of talking the guide did and the amount of oohing and awing the crowd did). However, China is China, so we were treated to several stops within the cave where we could purchase pictures or visit the gift shops.
We didn’t see everything in the park, but by the time our 45 minute tour of the cave was over, we were near-starving. So, we booked it out of the park and over towards our side of town for an amazing snack of Hong Kong Waffles (which is as delicious as it looks).
I enjoyed our day at the park, but I don’t think I would recommend it to visitors of Guilin. It is overpriced and a little underwhelming. There are plenty of other sights in the area that are cheaper, less crowded, and more interesting (like Fubo Mountain). I would, however, recommend the Hong Kong Waffles. Those things are to die for!