Hangzhou - Things and Thoughts

Funny, this is the first time in a while that I've really had a craving to blog, despite the fact that the past few days haven't been especially eventful in any touristy sense.

However, feed the craving, I say...

I'm in Hangzhou now, and it's a lovely place -- in fact, despite the rain, I've been loving the weather, as it's been relatively cool, which makes 6hours of walking bearable, nay, wonderful, along the shores of a willow-lined lake, lotus-blossoms everywhere. Worlds of pretty, indeed, though I admit, I wish the mugginess would lift just enough that I could see the opposite shore now and again, hm...

One of the campuses for Zhejiang University is right nearby, and I think, for the first time, I may just have found a uni campus that can compete with UBC in terms of gorgeousness. I hear SFU has a joint compsci degree with said uni, and am admittedly tempted by the possibility, despite having no interest in a compsci degree (sorry my sweet wonderful compsci friends -- just not my kettle of fish, at all).

Anyway, spent the whole day at the lakeside today, and loved every minute -- well, okay, exaggeration perhaps. Some less perfect moments included:

- lunch, where we were first told that they were out of the pumpkin biscuit things I wanted to try (fine, whatever), then told in 10 minutes that they were out of the two kinds of noodles we'd ordered (though ALMOST everything else was still available... we do pick well, I know), and then told in another 10 min that they were out of noodles ALTOGETHER. At this point, we left, and found another place to eat, where we got freshly made noodles in about 5 minutes or so. Much better. At least the folk at the first place were apologetic enough, though, and our waiter even sent someone else back to our table to tell us the bad news the third time around -- I think he was a bit worried about our reaction (and rightly so). This was still a vast improvement over the place in Yangshuo, who waited 40 minutes to tell us that we weren't going to get the main dish we'd ordered, though we could still have the veggies, 40 minutes after the fact, and NOT A SINGLE APOLOGY for this snafu. Fools. We were thoroughly unimpressed with that place.

- the guy who asked me for change - now, I should note, this is a very common occurence in China, and I've yet to fully piece together my opinions on the matter (that post is coming, eventually, I promise), but this one was more 'interesting' than the usual, from a moral dilemna/philosophical debate perspective. The guy began by telling his story, unusual, certainly, and more so, because his story, apparently, is that he stole someone's bag at some point (stole all of Y5, he says), got caught by the police, and ended up in jail for 6 months. He apparently was just released yesterday, and has since then, only had two buns to eat. Hence, the asking for change for food. Now, first, you might notice that I say 'apparently' a lot, since I'm rather cynical of most stories I get (unfortunate, really - I don't like things that make me cynical). But more than that, it brought up an interesting idea, morally speaking, of who is more 'deserving' of assistance, shall we say bluntly.... While I like the idea of forgiveness, of second chances, in principle, I am still less inclined to be sympathetic to situations brought on by oneself - nevermind the able-bodied vs. elderly or crippled debate, which needn't even enter the picture here. I don't know - I find it hard to put into words, and I wonder whether it is more valuable to help someone 'able', in the hopes that they will return to being a fully-contributing member of society, or someone less-so, who has no options available to them, but also will never be able to give back in quite the same manner. Evolutionary survival of the fittest, or a society that can care for the weak, one that can keep the monsters out, as someone once said.

I don't really have an answer yet, but I'm working on it. Not on an answer, per se, but simply on piecing together where I stand, or at least where I wobble. =) You know, what'll break principle and where the grey lines are. Important things to think about.

Anyway, I should get going, get some sleep, as tomorrow I think I want to do a little day trip out of town, which means up early early, methinks. However, I leave you with my incomplete stories to ponder, as always, including this tidbit: Someone said to me this morning, "I won't leave without saying goodbye", and true to dramatic movie form, that's of course the only time it doesn't happen. Boo. I wouldn't even have minded in the least, I think, as dinner and Little Mermaid lyrics late at night were quite enough for me, but with a cheesy statement like that, kitten, one ought to follow through. Silly of me, I know, especially with a youngling like that, but... You know. Me. Cheesy. Goodness me. =P =)



Let's see if third time's the charm, shall we, as my previous computer decided to go toast on me...
I'm back to feeling normal, human, again, after the oddity that was Yangshuo's Vegas-feel, after being sick, after cursing cramps like a drunken sailor (more on this in another post, I promise - I swore like I've never sworn before, believe me), after heat exhaustion and after the surreal experience that was Monkey Island (yeah, it was EXACTLY as surreal as the game might have led me to believe. More so, perhaps, because it was *real*. Very thoroughly weird.)
But, still, though I'm back to feeling like myself, we're into a different sort of limbo here, today. We'd been out of the cab all of 15 seconds before Garrett's camera was stolen out of his backpack -- a couple of girls spotted it happen, but not enough to get a helpful witness description or anything, and they helped us call the police, though they were very nervous about the whole thing, being not locals themselves. Everything seemed a little jitters, a little hush hush, a little nervewracking and backhanded. Nothing proper about it.
Language difficulties of mine aside, the police officer was as helpful as he could be. He drove us down to the police station (so, now I get to say I've ridden in a chinese police car), and there, We filed a report, one written by my hand, in English, and one document detailling our 'interview' with the officer -- who was even nice enough to put out his cigarette. He kept saying how he felt bad about how this reflected on his country, for us to visit and have such things happen.
Playing translator, though tiresome at times, is a practical thing to be able to do, even though I'm not necessarily great at it.... Anyway...
More paperwork, this time for insurance claims should we need it, and some sorting out of how to contact us, email being not always the most familiar thing to everyone here -- call out the younger officer, he'll know what this is.
And then he took us out to lunch. Offered to buy Garrett a beer (to drown his sorrows, indeed). And then he decided to take us to dinner, at 7:30pm. I've tried every means I know to say that this is hardly necessary, that this is too nice, that we don't want to trouble him at all. But he seems to not take no for an answer. Politesse is difficult at times, almost more so than language.
So, I think we're going to dinner with a police officer tonight. It won't make up for the lost camera, nay the lost photos, irreplacable items that they are... but it is still a story to tell, and so I will tell it. I will tell many stories, you might just have to wait until I get home to hear all of them.
Tomorrow, we leave the sea behind for the mountains, and though the sea was pretty, and the salt air fine, I admit, I'll be glad to be somewhere new.


Backposting - Jun30-Jul 3 - another transit blog for an out-of-city experience

The wheels on the bus go round and round...

We bought our bus tickets to Sanjiang the day before leaving, and man, was I ever happy to be able to see a written schedule that I could refer to prior to purchasing - even though I still don't know what all the different columns meant, and why they have variable pricing on them. Maybe some are non-stop? Who knows. There certainly aren't classes of ticket the way there are for trains. Anyway Y27 to Sanjiang, plus Y2 of insurance I accidentally bought (this be when language snags tend to bugger you up), made for cheap tickets on what was supposedly ("but the Lonely Planet guidebook said...") about 5h by bus. We had seats 5+6 on the 7:10AM bus, as the later (last one in the morning), more preferrable 7:40am bus was already sold out.

We get on a small-ish greyhound-sized beast in the morning to find ourselves separated by the aisle, and, fools that we are, sit dutifully in our assigned seats. G's big bag fit above the seat, and our two daypacks underneath, but there ain't much in the way of what you might call "leg room", so even when we pulled out of the station mostly empty, G stayed put in the aisle seat, next to a random chinese man (a furious smoker, unfortunately... despite the no smoking sign, which NO one, anywhere in China, ever seems to listen to). We pull up for gas bfr leaving the stn, and our ticket/money/conductor guy hops onboard. We have our numbers counted as we pull out of the stations, presumably to ensure that the bus doesn't claim more $ from the station than the stn collected for them, and we're OFF.

The driver of the bus yells 'move on back'...

Or so we thought. IMMEDIATELY after leaving the station -- no, no, literally, not even 5m from the parking lot -- we stop, and about 5 more people get on . This process repeats until we leave Guilin, pulling up at random non-bus-stops to pick up passengers, shouting out the window as we roll past city bus stops "Longsheng! Sanjiang!" and stopping for ANYONE who'll flag us down -- us = a BIG ol' long distance bus, NOT a taxicab, people! We even had a guy and his friend on a motorbike hail us, and had the ticket lady (a new one, now, who we'd picked up on the way) shout out as we drove past "meet us at the next intersection!", at which point we stopped, the man on his bike hopped off, unloaded his boxes and crates of baggage and got onboard.

'move on back'...

Did I mention that since these buses tend to stop in a lot of smaller towns and villages, people tend to bring a LOT of VERY large baggage? Did I also mention that we picked up enough ppl that the aisle was filled with people sitting on small wooden stools, or occasionally on barrels or cooking oil drums, just for kicks. I don't quite understand why ppl don't just GO TO THE BUS STATION, but hey, the chinese don't queue (except for Mao), so who says they should get on a bus BEFORE it starts moving. At least the chickens didn't get on the bus (at least not on THIS bus) -- a woman we picked up had a large rice bag, with holes in it, with her -- just wear and tear, I figure. Then the bag moved. Then, I realized it was "chickens in a bag", which I've since come to realize is the best way to transport small livestock in China, apparently. The only more entertaining alternatives I've seen are, (1) chicken in a small plastic (LDPE) grocery bag, with head and feet poking out either side. However, this is only effective for shorter, non-bus distances, I suspect, and (2) just strap 'em onto the back of your bicycle and go. I saw a man cycle past with 2 in the basket on the front of the bike, and I suspect at aleast 5 strapped to the back -- no, no, not in a box, or crate or anything. No, no, just plain tied to the back rack of the man's bike, and cluckin' and movin' about. If you thought strapping milk crates to the back of a scooter was a challenge, you ain't seen no chicken bike.

Anyway, this woman's chickens wind up in the side compartment of el autobus, she sits on the baggage at the front of the bus, just behind the driver, and we're off again. Pit stop for food and bathroom about 1h out of Guilin, which we probably hadn't actually left until 8am at the earliest. Lots of smoking (thankfully sitting next to the window made it much more bearable). Lots of spitting out the window at high velocity. Especially the bus driver. Man, that guy must've spat at least once every 15 minutes, on average, and I don't evne think I'm exaggerating. He must've drank some of the green stuff by accident (MI2 reference, kids. And that's monkey island, NOT mission impossible. ew). Get to Longsheng around 10:30am, and the bus mostly empties, though not for too long, as we continue to pickup at middle-of-nowhere village/highway "stops", more akin to hitchhiking that bussing. Variable fares are paid to the conductor once you've sat down, which, admittedly, is mostly impressive because, as I mentioned before, the aisle is FULL of people, so the ticket guy getting to you to take your money is sort of an 'adventure'.

The people on the bus go up and down...

HOWEVER, here's the real kicker about this bus ride... about 10 min out of longsheng, the road turns into absolute crap -- ABSOLUTE worst "road" I've ever been on. This is why the short distance between Longsheng and Sanjiang takes THREE very painful hours, and we arrive at 1:30pm, about 6.5h after leaving the bus station in Guilin. This road is more mud, dirt and rocks, and LANDSLIDES, than actual road, and is approx. 1 lane wide the whole way, along a cliff's edge, which makes for some very scary bus passings, esp. when what you're passing is a fuel tanker. There was definitely more than one occasion where I was seriously scared that the bus would get totally stuck in the mud/puddle/ditch (like Lola, but bigger, and bus-ier), and we'd be stuck in literally the middle of butt-nowheres.

Speaking of butt-nowheres, some of the people we picked up/dropped off... I have NO idea where they were going -- sometimes, you'd spot a village on the other side of the river, but other times, it really made me wonder... "why are you HERE?"

up and down...

Anyway, point being, this was the worst EVER "road" and, thus, the slowest, most painfully bumpy THREE hour bus ride EVER -- at least until the ride back, but I'll get to that soon enough. For now, suffice it to say, we were tossed about like so many rag dolls and we were lucky enough to be sitting near the front of the bus -- reminded me of the old school bus days, when we'd race to get the back seats s.t. we'd be flung well and up in the air when we hit the inevitable post-winter-in-Ottawa pothole -- yeah, THIS was not at all one of the times where that would've been a "fun" idea.

This also made me extremely glad that I don't get motion sickness quite the way I used to as a kid -- else it'd have been me throwing up out of the bus window, instead of just chinese men spitting.

The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish...

Finally, we get to Sanjiang, ask about the bus to Chengyang. Apparently, they get this one from foreign tourists often, so they throw a slip of paper out @ us that reads, "for buses to Chengyang, go to the other bus station" -- I ask for directions, and we grab lunch at a nice enough little place next to the bus stn bfr heading out: "take the main road, turn right, walk across the bridge, it's right there" which we also reconfirm with our friendly noodle restauranteur, and off we go. AVAST. Have to ask again once we've crossed the bridge, as the bus stn is tiny and hard to pick out in a crowd. Buy tickets @ Y3.5 each, and hit the bus to Linxi, leaving in 0.5h, which will drop us off on the way. Again, we appear to be in the minority, getting on at the ACTUAL bus stn, as we fill up IMMEDIATELY outside the bus station. Again, I fail to understand why people wait literally two steps from the station to get on -- I wonder a bit about issues of legality and the like, but, honestly, it makes me happier that buses always leave the city FILLED (to the brim, as it were) -- better for both owner and earth.

Am thankful, truly, for the paved road. Narrow, single-lane, cliff's edge, sharp blind corners which we take at full speed -- the sonar method, as it were: we honk loudly as we speed around the bend, listening for a response, but never once slowing down. Still, it's paved, and I love it. Dropped of at Chengyang in the pouring rain and the adventure begins.

The wheels on the bus go round and round...

On the way back, we stand poised in the bend of the road, in front of the tourist sales stalls, and the bus comes whipping around the corner, early -- I wave it down, and am admittedly quite pleased with myself for doing so. I actually quite enjoy this whole flagging-down-passing-vehicles business.

Standing room only, not unexpected. I'm standing next to the front stash of baggage, clinging 1-armed to the top luggage rack, not ideal to grip, as we whip around curves at ~60kph (though, I suppose I can't be certain of our speed, what with the broken spedometer and all). We paid Y4 a piece, it seems that buses are ALWAYS more expensive on the way back -- because you have no options, buggers.

Standing on this bus, I was reminded of Brian's comment and think to myself, thankfully I have a lower centre of gravity (woo, physics!) - Brian would've fallen over for sure -- maybe I'd make a decent snowboarder.

Never again will I complain (not that I ever really did) about standing in public transit in Canada -- it's easy to stay standing in city buses, and cdn. buses could never be this crowded. Anywho... with the occasional bit of building up that right arm muscle when we rounded a corner especially quick, we were back in Sanjiang in a record 25min.

Skitter to the other bus stn to find out when the bus to Longsheng leaves -- in 10 min, the bus girl says, buy your tickets on the bus. It was lunchtime, but since the the girl says it's unknown when (if) the next bust leaves, I con G into just buying snack food, and hopping on the bus just as the driver revs his engine to go.

The people on the bus go up and down...

I didn't think it possible, but the bus ride back to longsheng was definitely worse -- bumpier, way more $ (Y20 ea), and, though the bus was half-empty for much of the ride, all I could think was, can we PLEASE get there already?!?

In longsheng (AT LAST), we hit some lunch bfr finding out 5pm bus to Ping'an -- glad we didn't wait for another bus in Sanjiang, or we'd never have made it to this, the last bus out to Ping'An of the day. The Ping'an bus is fully tourist decked out - English maps, English service - even though we're the only tourists on the max.16-person capacity minibus. We leave the station and... can you guess what happens next?

The driver of the bus yells 'move on back'...

Yes, kids, that's right, right outside the stn, EVERYONE (and their kitchen sink, or at least enough baggage to legitimately qualify) awaits. We load up (at least no cat-in-a-bag, as was bumped about on the last bus we were on), and G and I help a woman protect her poor breakable boxes of stuff (glass, methinks) from being sat on multiple times. Wow. I think after all the pit stops, we fit 45-50 people on that bus -- granted, about 7 of those were kids, and therefore, take up less space, but let's not forget the boxes, the baskets, the veggies, the glassware, the chicken-in-a-bag, and best of all, the stop where we pull up by the river and wait for the 3 people wading and fishing in the water to climb onboard -- as G put it, "just what we need" -- wet chinese men and 2 buckets/baskets of fish to leak all over the floor of the bus.

Actually, though, I really loved it. Everyone was laughing, smiling, chatting, taking care of someone else's kid on their lap, eating, whatever. Everyone knew everyone, or at least acted as if they did. And though I couldn't understand much of it (dialects! I shake my fist at you!), every so often I pick up a phrase or word -- half cantonese, half mandarin. Never thought it'd be so helpful to know both -- though it messed with my head a lot to know both, since sometimes I get confused hearing things that I understand, but being unable to figure out what dialect it resembles, and why I understand it.

That bus ride (Y6.5, 2h) was absolutely one of the highlights of my whole trip to China. Especially the fish. Awesome. It was the first time I'd actually seen a bus driver be picky about where you put your baggage ... fish water is not so easy to clean out of carpet, hm.

... all the way to town....

The way back was less of an adventure, less new, fewer entertaining people, but I mention it briefly for different reasons. We hopped the bus from Ping'an, the only folk on it a couple of locals and 3 canto speaking tourists, our age-ish, who I laughed at for doing a full analysis of which direction the sun was going to be coming from on the way back -- the beauty, though, being that I understood cantonese, so caught that they were off to Guilin, same as us, but were planning to hitch at the intersection of the highway, instead of travelling all the way back to Longsheng. So, I decided to get off with them, and again, hail a passing bus into Guilin -- saves time and $ (30 min, Y5 + 1.5h, Y15) -- plus, I got to hitch a bus from the highwayside. Awesomecross. Truly.


Yangshuo - Day 3 - The word of the day, kids, is SWEAT.

Perspiration. Freaking perspiration.

Forget that. Freaking weather. Remind me not to travel in China in the summer again, if I have any choice about it.... I really hope I can come back next time in the fall or something. C'mon PhD to postdoc transition.... Let's see you work some magical timing skills there.

Anyway, though I may have made some unpromises to folk in the past to never complain about the weather, I rescind this temporarily as I'm not in the gorgeous 19degree Vancouver climate.

So, I don't want to hear any of this "hah, your complaining it's cold in Vancouver was so funny -thanks, the laughing helped me defrost my frostbitten face" out of you. Especially as you're in Vancouver, and I'm in 32C PLUS humidity Yangshuo county.

So, 32C, not actually so bad, but as all my fun friends and family in Ottawa know full well, it's the humidity that makes it OHSOFREAKINGBRUTAL. And the humidity is worse here, my friends.

Allow me to demonstrate, with a short series of bullet points:

1. When washing clothing here, the water comes out brown. This is not only from the dust. This is also a wonderful mixture of dust and sweat.

2. This is 'apply deodorant at least two to three times per day' weather.

3. Immediately after showering, approximately 5-10 minutes of sitting in a non-A/C room, with a fan, results in enough sweating that you feel obviously sticky and gross, to the extent that I would choose to avoid vinyl furniture at all costs.

4. It only rains in short, thunderstorm-esque POURING bursts. This breaks the humidity. For about an hour.

5. When going out walking, very slowly, in the shade, along the riverbank, at 8:30AM... one can sweat through the back of one's shirt in under an hour. We're talking about "I can wring the sweat out of this garment because it is dripping" kind of sweat. Enough to soak my bag as well, if carried on my back. Enough to give shorts stains. Enough that you can tell on my front where exactly my bag was sitting, because there's a shoulder bag strap SWEAT stain. Enough to be DRIPPING with sweat. From walking. In the EARLY MORNING.

6. When eating dinner, outside, at 7pm, 10 minutes of sitting may produce a significant amount of sweating. Dripping, sweating.

It feels sometimes like all I do here is sweat. I lose count of how many litres of water I drink in a day. It is absolutely disgusting, and as ABSOLUTELY gorgeous as this place is (the scenery, AB-SO-LUTE-LY GORGEOUS), I wouldn't live here if you paid me.

And, oh look, we leave on Tuesday to go to Hainan Island (mostly for some Monkey business), where it is supposedly EVEN HOTTER.


Anyway, I have to go drop an obscene amount of money on a plane ticket now, as I did not plan ahead quite enough to know when we were leaving... So, I bid you adieu, until we meet again.

As you might be inclined to say, "smell you later". =P


* A Scalene Triangle...

...the smallest dimension being its height.

This is the part of the trip where I learned that (a) being cheap is definitely not always worth it, and (b) if I ever ever ever pick anything ever again based on the fact that it has character I must immediately rethink this decision. (granted, this is part of how I picked my apartment for May. Oooh. We'll see how this goes, no?)

When we first arrived at Lisa's, we were shown a standard four-person room, with shared bathroom and A/C, but when I asked if there was anything cheaper, the girl showing us around said, essentially, there was, but... uhm... I should warn you, the ceilings are quite low... (translated, of course)

she wasn't kidding - this was the scalene triangle, where except at the immediate entrance, there wasn't enough ceiling room to stand up straight, or really, to stand up at all. Actually, come to think of it, at the narrow end, you couldn't possibly have done anything but lie down... Plus, the classy hanging ceiling lamp, which, of course, was hung almost at knee height. Instead of A/C, we had a fan that didn't rotate. Oh, but it gets better...

The ceiling, being nothing more than the underside of the roof itself, shed random crap on the mattresses everytime it rained. The walls were a fantastic display of electrical wiring (even in the bathroom!), which, of course, led G and I to a hilarious, and completely not serious, discussion: "what? how's hanging wet clothes to dry on electrical taped wires a BAD idea? but look, they've thoughtfully given us hangers!"

In the bathroom, where the ceiling was, in fact, high enough to allow us to stand while showering, though not wide enough that you could stand anywhere but directly next to the toilet as you showered. The hot water took forever to heat up (not so much a problem in Yangshuo's sweltering heat, mind you), nevermind having an actual handle on the tap. A toilet that once again made me appreciate squat toilets where you never actually have to deal with the sketchy seats. And plus, who doesn't appreciate cobwebs and bare concrete?

Oh, but, look, what a nice view it has, of the touristy West Street. Oh, this view? Through the window? With its two panes of unfinished glass? Which, we found out the hard way, weren't ACTUALLY large enough to cover the full area of the window, that is, if you don't break it or accidentally slit your wrists attempting to close it. The drape (read: towel) did an even more fantastic job, covering about 50-60% of the window area, with a wide gap at both the top and side.

The best part was meeting other tourists who were being shown the (and I'm not kidding) "special room" or the "Mao room" as they also called it. I appreciated at least that the girl who showed us the room didn't try to dress it up as anything - she warned us fair and square. There wasn't any spin, like for the others' being shown the place, and being told, oh, that's no problem, we can fit THREE more people in a room that isn't even big enough to stand in. Surprisingly enough, no one else decided to take the room and join us for the evening. In fact, one girl turned it down rather brutally, and then, realizing we were there unpacking ourselves, turned to us and politely joked, "sorry to dis your room" - I laughed about that.

Because, when it came down to it, as horrifying as all that was, I could've lived with all that. It was, to me, anyway, more hilarious than anything else, and, hey, you really couldn't argue that the place didn't have character. ahahahahah. Yeah, I'm a risk to myself and others sometimes, I know.

BUT, what made the place ACTUALLY unliveable after the first night... So, that beautiful view of West Street? Yeah, did I neglect to mention that West Street is not only a tourist street, filled with shops and bustle during the day, but a BAR and CLUB street at night? OH MY. As G said, "I feel like a carnie" - even with earplugs, it was like living INSIDE the speakers of some horrifying street disco dance party, nevermind the really bad karaoke. Feel the music? Oh, yes, we FELT the music.

That, more than any of the other stuff, made us move house after one night. Yangshuo really wasn't our cup of tea as far as housing went. When we told Lisa we were going to move because of the noise, and told her we'd found a cheap place that was quiet, she counteroffered, and moved us into a two-person room, which was actually decent. The fan was fine, the bathroom reasonably sized, and the ceilings at sane heights. I'm pretty convinced that smell, though, was mold, and the lizard in the bathroom wasn't really the keenest thing, so after three nights there, we moved again, this time to the backstreet HI, which was FABULOUS, as far as cleanliness went. Trouble was, though, we hadn't reserved a second night there, and so they asked us to swap rooms for the second night, to accomodate a group of four coming the next day. That's cool, said we, only to find that we were expected to move into the now flooded upstairs room, which, oh, did we not mention, is connected to the open hallway balcony that floods everytime it rains. Oh, did I not mention that it was raining now non-stop, such that even the Li river itself was flooding it's banks (cancelling our opportunity to go see this on-the-water-light-show and dance extravaganza directed/made in some way by Zhang Yimou), so this meant guaranteed room flooding? Not cool.

So, once again we were nomads, woo, wandering (feverishly, as a bonus, as I got sick the same day we got booted out of the HI) in the rain to find new digs. We tried the West Street HI, which not only was likely to be noisy, as it was on West Street, again, and above a restaurant/bar, but offered us a nine-person, one-bathroom dorm room, in drastic contrast to the quiet 4-person dorms we'd loved at the backstreet HI (which, by the by, I do actually recommend if you stay in Yangshuo. Just make reservations, and the place is actually wonderful). I think somewhere around this time, G compared us to Mary and Joseph seeking any sort of shelter for the night. We finally ended up back at Lisa's, at higher prices than we left (understandably so), where I got right and proper ill. But that's another story entirely. :P


Back in city, stars in my eyes, gorgeousness and things (from Guilin)

Life in Incomplete Thoughts and Phrases:

Spent the past two nights in one of the most gorgeous places on earth. Said 'wow' a whole lot. A WHOLE lot. Saw a LOT of rice. Will write about it later.

Think I'd make a good peasant. Yeah.

Had a LOT of bus-related adventures, some involving livestock and VERY bad roads. VERY freaking bad roads. Also, some hailing a bus from the side of the highway (quasi-hitching, yes?).

Am beginning to lose the distinction between canto and mandarin. Messing with my brain. Dialects cause great trouble for me. Can't understand a bloody thing. Glad just about everyone speaks mandarin, or close to it. Though it's a mixed bag. Love it and hate it.

Only one complaint to speak of... Managed to freaking break out in hives while I was there. Who knows what I'm allergic to, but I'm itching like crazy, and look like I've got a terrible pox. It's fun, really. More fun stories soon, promise, even if soon means when I get home.

Halfway there, and not really wanting it to be so. Happy to be here. My adventure.