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!