After a restful (haha) stay in Handan Jon and I boarded the train headed south to Zhengzhou. Luckily this trip was only a little over two hours and merely a means to an end. We were taking the train to Zhengzhou so that we could take a plane from there to Guilin instead of having to take a 24 hour train ride to Guilin.
As far as flights go ours was fine ... I slept for almost the whole time, which was only about an hour and was anxious to arrive. When we were down in baggage claim (we had to check our bags because of the liquids, even though they were definitely small enough to be carry-ons) I realized that I had left my jacket on the plane and so I had to track that down, but even that didn't really cause any problems.
Jon and I made our way to the train station as quick as we could to buy tickets for our next destination, because in China you have to buy your tickets as soon as you can once they go on sale or you face having to stand for the duration of your trip. We split up and stood in different lines to see if one would move faster than another. After about thirty minutes of standing in line I was finally just a few people away from the front. And that was the exact moment the employee closed the window down. Fast forward about an hour later and that was when Jon and I finally made it to the front of a line. We were hot and sweaty from standing in the stinky train station, but we were able to score some soft sleepers for a lot less than we thought they were going to cost.
We had directions to our hostel from the train station so we headed out to try to find our way and drop off our stuff. Turns out the directions were pretty terrible and after meandering around quite hopelessly for a while we were finally able to spot the hostel, which was located down a side street and on like the fourth floor of the building. Luckily the people who worked there were really nice and the place was also pretty good. We had been able to score a room for just the two of us, which was a nice change from sharing with lots of other people like we had been and like we would be doing for most of the rest of our trip.
After dropping off our stuff we decided to be good tourists and check the city out a bit even though it was getting a bit late and we were tired. We didn't end up staying out too late, but we had some really delicious milk tea (I would even argue that it was the best I've ever had) and saw the river, which looked really beautiful at night.
We were just about to call it a night and head back to the hostel when we noticed two huge pagodas that were aglow in the dark summer night. We walked around the park where they were located for a while and talked before all the lights were turned off and we took that as a sign to leave.
Then we made our way back to the hostel where we bought tickets on the Li Jiang cruise for the next morning and called it a night.