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Archive for November, 2002

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Saturday, November 30th, 2002


Friday November 29 2002
The annual Fish Festival began today. The fish festival celebrates the Cormorant fisher birds who dive for fish from fishermen’s boats they perch on but because of their small throats and a metal ring put around the throat by the fishermen they cannot swallow the fish. The fishermen then take the fish out of their mouths; it is amazing that the birds don’t fly off with the fish.

There was a dragon parade through the town; Jana and I watched some Chinese rock singers and a beer drinking contest; guy from Britain entered but didn’t win, he said, because the beer was warm and hard to swallow. We will run across him a couple more times on the tourist trail. We watched great fireworks in the country that invented them late into the evening on the roof of a restaurant.

One of the many signs for English teachers seen in China: Wanted teachers of English, ASAP, for one month to one year, free bed, food, air ticket, free Chinese lessons, 2500 to 4000 Yuan a month payment, work visa, call 1-390-773-7533 Contact Owen at Buckland College.

Saturday Nov 30
Walked to the bus station with our backpacks to catch a bus back to Guilin so we could catch the train to Kunming by 11:30am. The “Hard Sleeper,” which was about half the cost of a “Soft Sleeper” meant six beds in a compartment with no door. There is supposed to be no smoking on the trains in China but the men smoke anyway and the smoke drifts into the compartments. Our compartment contained a Chinese couple (he with cell phone and large voice) and a nice Chinese guy (all with no English) on one side and Bob, Jana and I on other side.

A friendly Swedish couple in a nearby compartment was good for some interesting conversation about their socialist government which they said works very well there. In the compartment next to us was an older mother and a child with it’s grandparents. The child wore knitted garments with a split crotch for potty-going. No diapers are worn by babies in most of Asia. Maybe we should ask Asian mothers about potty training…probably wouldn’t work in the West, however, because Asian mothers keep their babies with them constantly.

That evenng we went to the dining car for dinner. After ordering (and paying before the meal) we waited a good hour for dinner. When the train made a stop and the waiters debarked we became concerned and asked the new staff for our dinner. They were prepared to ignore us until a nice Chinese man eating at the next table spoke rather strongly to the wait staff about our situation. We think the old staff worked a scam…taking off with the money themselves. We ended up with a nice meal but don’t know if the new staff was stuck with the cost of the meal or not…one of the many mysteries we will witness in China.

The next day as I was walking back down the aisle from the filthy and foul smelling squat toilet at the end of the carriage, I heard hacking, caughing and spitting. I looked up to see the old grandfather next to us spitting on the rug in the aisle. Grossed out again!

Mobbed at Yangshuo

Tuesday, November 26th, 2002


Southern China Guangxi Province
Tuesday Nov 26, 2002
At Yangshuo we were mobbed by women selling hotel rooms. I stayed with the backpacks while Bob and Jana looked at a few rooms. We chose one with a veranda overlooking the main tourist walkway in the shop and cafe area.

Yangshuo is a small village set up against beautiful limestone pinnacles called karsts that jut straight up out of the ground…some lit up beautifully with green lights at night. There are two mainstreets…one being the main artery leading to Guilin and the other, Xi Jie, is known as �Foreigner Street� because it is a pedestrian mall lined with Western style cafes, hotels and tourist shops free from bicycles, traffic and the infamous Chinese tractors.

Later, Jana and I took a walk for several hours with Esther, our tour leader, to Moon Hill Village and Moon Mountain, so-called because the mountain has a moonshaped hole in it at the top. Esther fixed us a lunch of egg and tomato, pork and vegetables and rice at her home in the village. We visited with a group of Chinese middle school children and they eagerly let us take their pictures.

Esther had a hard life. She said her educated parents-her father taught college in something like engineering-were killed during the Cultural Revolution (as many of the elite educated were) when she was five At the time there was also much starvation. The family had seven children…one died as a baby…which left three girls and three boys. Her younger brother and she were kept in an orphanage and had to workhard as a child…no school…she kept apologizing for �no education.� She said her husband was 67-much older than she-and that he doesn�t treat her well-plays cards and drinks. She said he is very angry with her because she bore him three daughters and no sons. They have three
daughters…her two oldest are in college in Guilin and her youngest, who we met, is in middle school.

After lunch Esther walked us out to the highway and flagged down a very mini bus for us which we took for ten cents the few miles back to Yangshuo.

In the meantime Bob had rented a bicycle and rode around the area by
himself…being lost most of the time.

Wednesday November 27
Jana and Bob went on a bike ride to Moon Mountain with Mo She Feng-another guide. They rode on the opposite side of the valley from the walk the daybefore. At 42 years old She Feng (the given name is written behind the family name) was in great shape. She cooked three dishes…egg and tomato, pork and vegetables and rice. After lunch they crossed the highway and climbed the 800 plus steps to the arch of Moon Hill. Raining on the way up, the steps were very slippery but at the top there was a 360 degree view of the whole amazing valley full of karsts.

That night we ate dinner at an open-air restaurant in a street market outside the tourist area…marveled at the tubs of live fish andtables of cut up meat and vegetables that were thrown into huge woks for stir-fried dishes. The tables were covered with cloths that were then covered again with thin clear plastic. When the diners were finished a new piece of clear plastic was put over the cloth as is also done in some other countries.

Thursday November 28
We had T shirts made with our email monikers…mine said Laughingnomad China 2002-2003 in English on the back and in Chinese on the front. Jana�s moniker is �Gaia (earth) Traveler.� We laughed about some of the shirts hanging on the walls like �Minnie Mao� with a picture of Mao Tse Tung! Another had a list of things in Chinese and English that Chinese people shouldn�t do to the foreigners like �Don�t Spit� and �Don�t Use Foreigners to Practice English.�

Ate that night at a used buy/trade book shop/cafe that was owned by a nice young Chinese guy with excellent English who seemed to attract young Chinese guys who wanted to practice their English. Bob bought a couple used books-�The Sheltering Sky� by Paul Bowles who died recently in Tangier Morocco and �Riding the Iron Rooster� (train trips across China in the 1980�s) by Paul Theroux.

While we ate we visited with some young Chinese students who pulled up their chairs to our table and wanted to practice their English. Then two guys from
Montreal came in and told us the run-down on Lijiang and Tiger Leaping Gorge
that we will visit soon.

Adoptions Of Chinese Children

Saturday, November 23rd, 2002
YUqE3FCf1Hd9CjfG1qqmt0-2006171132705308.gif In Guangshou we moved to Shamian Dao Island and stayed in the Shamian Hotel...right across the street from the White Swan Hotel where Communist dignitaries used to stay. Of course we had to scope out ... [Continue reading this entry]

To Guangzhou China

Friday, November 22nd, 2002
YUqE3FCf1Hd9CjfG1qqmt0-2006171132705308.gif Friday November 22 2002 Hong Kong to Guangshou Across the street to noodle shop for breakfast. Sat with woman who worked as a buyer for a British department store & whose English was very ... [Continue reading this entry]

Westerners Go In The Back

Thursday, November 21st, 2002
YUqE3FCf1Hd9CjfG1qqmt0-2006171132705308.gif Video Thursday November 21 2002 Reading "The Coming Collapse of China," a book written by a Chinese American economist...a dissenting opinion...he gives China five years to get their banking system in order...which he doubts will ... [Continue reading this entry]

Hong Kong

Wednesday, November 20th, 2002
YUqE3FCf1Hd9CjfG1qqmt0-2006171132705308.gif Wednesday November 20 2002 We flew to Hong Kong from Bangkok on China Airways at 3pm...a one hour time change. We noticed the metal spoon and fork that came with our food service ... [Continue reading this entry]

China’s Secrets I Will Never Know

Wednesday, November 20th, 2002
S2bYNL6zJRrgaMn9LtR9tg-2006170195030775.gif Major Cities We Visited "The opening up of China is a stirring idea," Lonely Planet says. A foreigner traveling alone today is privileged to see more of China than almost any Chinese has seen ... [Continue reading this entry]

Lovely Lao

Wednesday, November 20th, 2002
ySKKSpbtXBjgyhP6z8LuC0-2006217035001655.gif My favorite country so far...the people are sweet but very natural and direct. Flew from Siem Reap Cambodia to Vientiane, the Capital of Lao. The "s" was added by the French so ... [Continue reading this entry]