Yangshuo

November 9 continued ...

 

When we disembarked in Yangshuo, after a most enjoyable cruise down the Li River, Stephen and Angela took a picture of a cormorant fisherman.   As soon as their camera clicked, two gentlemen behind them wanted money for the photo.   They said they didn't know it was going to cost them money for the photo ... there was no sign.  The men still wanted money.  The photo was not that good, so with the men watching, Angela erased the photo from their camera.

Our local contact, Alan, was standing higher up on the stairs with a sign which read "Thorne".  He led us to the hotel as Frank in Guilin had directed him ... not the one Frank confirmed we were getting.  We pulled out the receipt ... no name of the hotel had been printed on the receipt.  We were not happy and only booked in for the one night we reserved.  We would find another on our own.  Unfortunately Alan was the one who got the brunt of our displeasure.

Alan's outgoing personality quickly won us over as he introduced us to Yangshuo and suggested things we might want to do over the next two days.  We emphasised to him that we would like to see the countryside and to be close to the people. 

As we walked around Yangshuo with Alan, a lady asked Terry if he would like his shoes shined.  He indicated maybe at a later time.  She wanted to be sure she was there when he was ready, so she joined our entourage.   Terry appreciating that by her tagging along, he was perhaps causing her to lose other customers, so we stopped and he had his shoes shined.  She did a really great job.  

Dating back more than 1400 years, West Street is Yangshou's oldest street.  Since the 1980s it is also Yangshuo's most prosperous street.  It would be difficult to be in Yangshuo and miss West Street with it's cross-culture ambience.  Over 100,000 visitors come here each year to visit or engage in foreign language studies.  At a textile shop, Sherrie stopped and asked a lady doing needlework in a store entrance if it was okay to take a picture.  She nodded, "yes".  Sherrie took the picture and with the click of the camera a lady on the street approached her and asked for 10 for the picture.  Before Sherrie could engage in conversation with the lady who wanted the money, a lady within the shop said in a stern voice in perfect English, "this is my shop and she can take as many pictures as she wants."  Wow, lesson learned.

Yangshou would very much appeal to those tourist who want the flavour and ambience of China, but like to have the security of being able to communicate in English and the familiarity of eating western food.   Yangshou was a pleasant respite, but not the China we came to see.  We made arrangements to meet Alan in the morning, rent motorbikes and head out to the country. 

We continued to explore Yangshou on our own; stopped for a drink by the water side where a man did his laundry; watched the sun set and the neon lights turn on.  We hadn't seen any Caucasians since leaving the Yangtze River cruise several days ago ... they were all over Yangshuo.  We hadn't missed them. 

We had dinner at a restaurant Alan had recommended, "Si Chuan".  It was good and very reasonable.  The best recommendation came from all the Chinese filling the limited number of tables. 

Before returning to the hotel, we found another and made reservations at the Hotel Explorer (not a direct web site) for tomorrow night and made arrangements to leave our luggage with them in the morning.

 
 
 
 
 

November 10

When we left the hotel we were treated to some morning music by a gentleman who was playing a traditional stringed instrument in the little park overlooking the Li River.  Such a lovely way to start a new day.   There was much activity in the park as well.  Many parks in China have exercise equipment and to the people's benefit, most times we have seen it in use. 

After depositing our backpacks at the Hotel Explorer, we went to West Street and had breakfast at Twin Peaks Restaurant.  The food and coffee was good and the prices reasonable. 

Alan met us there and introduced us to his son (about 6 years of age).  He asked if we minded that his son join us on the day's adventures.  "That would be great," we answered enthusiastically.   Alan then led us to the lane way where he had arranged for us to rent four electric motorbikes.   We had some trial runs in the laneway.   Sherrie, who rode a bike like this on Rarotonga, was, for some reason, having difficulty.  Everyone was patient until she felt ready to tackle the streets and highways around Yangshuo.

We headed out onto the highway with Alan and his son on a gasoline fuelled motor bike and us on our electric ones.   We had chosen a large size because it had more power, to handle hills, and quicker acceleration for better response time.  No helmets.   No insurance.   It only took a few minutes and we all felt comfortable.  

At a "T" in the road, a lady seemed to magically appear selling flowered head pieces.  It seemed like a great deal of work for 2 (29 cents).  Angela and Sherrie rode off with flowers in their hair.

 

The day was sunny and the scenery exceptional.   Our first stop was at rice fields set among karsts.  The owners and workers of these fields have agreed to have their work interrupted by curious tourists in exchange for a little financial consideration. 

When we pulled up with our bikes we were surrounded by enthusiastic peddlers.  After three of us indicated we did not want to buy they concentrated on Terry who wanted to purchase a little wooden duck from a little girl.   He got his duck ... four of them ... and we made it across the little stone bridge which seemed to be a sales free zone. 

In the field we met a man and woman who were harvesting rice.  They were kind enough to allow us to try our hand at some of the work.

When we considered how much time and labour goes into getting a bowl of rice to the table, it is surprising how little it costs. 

To start with it takes seedlings in beds 30 to 50 days to grow big enough to transplant.

During this time the field is prepared for planting.  Hand ploughing is usually done with the aid of a steer (as in pictures) or water buffalo (as we saw in Vietnam and also in China).  It was interesting to note that the steer would not move if a simple "barrier" of a rice stook was place in front of him.

The fields are then cleared of any weeds, fertilized ... often with dung and levelled by dragging a log.

At the right stage of growth with a few healthy leaves and good root system, farmers then have the backbreaking task of transplanting the seedlings, one by one approximately 20-30 cm apart, into the field which has now been flooded with rain or river water.  It is important that they are planted at the right depth since air is just as important for growth as water.  It would be nice if the farmer could take a bit of a break but during the growing season, the field is emptied of water, weeded and then flooded again ... a number of times.

When they are not fighting the weeds, they are chasing off birds (including wild ducks and geese),  picking off snails by hand and doing what they can with pesticides to ward off rice stem borers, army worms and rodents.

Between 80 to 200 days after transplanting, when the rice is finally ready to harvest, the farmer cuts the stalks close to the ground with a hand scythe which has tiny saw blade teeth.

At this stage, pinching a ripened grain of rice will squeeze out a soft milky fluid.  

 

Some farmers will cut, stack and let the rice dry on the plant in the fields while others will take the stalks home.  The farmer we were with today, cut the stalks and threshed (parting the grain from the plant) immediately.  

 

Threshing is often done by hand as we saw in Zhaoxing. 

This farmer had a thresher ... a wooden box with two sections.  One section has a rotating barrel with metal hooks which he turns by pumping his feet on a wooden treadle.  It worked very much like an old treadle sewing machine.  We all took turns holding a small sheath of rice so that the grains touched the metal hooks which then shook the rice from the stalk sending them down to the second section of the contraption.  

After the grain was threshed, the stalks were tied together in stooks and left in the field to dry, later to be used for animal feed.  Once the stooks are removed from the field and the temperature allows, the process begins again.  

From the second section, the lady cleaned out the plant debris which had also been knocked off the stalks.  She then scooped the rice into breathable sacks.  The bags were heavy. 

There is little time for precious rest.  The rice now would be taken from the field and each day placed on bamboo mats or paved flat street sides or yards, or sometimes roof tops, to dry during the day; then gathered every night.

After drying the rice, winnowing will separate the grain from any dust, husks or stems.   Often the winnowing is done by tossing the rice into the air over a cloth and allowing the wind to do the separation.  Another way is to use a box with a hand crank fan which blows air through the rice which is dropped through a funnel, passed the wind channel and into a bag at the bottom.

The rice must now be kept dry.  

 

At last the rice is ready to cook ... for the bowl of rice we take so much for granted.   The farmers don't take it for granted ... because for most without a good crop of rice their family will go hungry.

When a guest in the home of a Chinese family, it is very rude to leave even a single grain of rice in your bowl.  We now have a better understanding as to why.

 

Mounted on our bikes again, Alan and his son led us to the  ancient village of Jiuxian.  

For over six hundred years people have called this earth-walled (800 metres long) village home.  We met two of today's younger residents and Angela and Sherrie gave them their flowered headdresses.  Off the tourist track between Yangshuo and Moon Hill, this village does not see many tourists.  Alan suggested we wander around the town on our own. 

 

The buildings are made of here are mostly made of brick.   It seemed rather vacant.   We walked through "Education Gate" together and then become delightfully lost in the maze of alleyways.

A lady came up one of the wider laneways pulling a cart towering with rice straw.  Her load started to lean to one side as she rounded a corner.  Her pace quickened, wanting to get to her destination before it completely fell off. 

When it did, Stephen and Terry hurried to her aid and helped her stack it outside one of the brick buildings.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Yu Long River, sometimes referred to as the "Little Li River", is only 43 km (26 miles) long.  The stunning scenery more than makes up for any shortness in length.  

"Yu Long" means "meeting a dragon".  Legend tells of a dragon who came the area from the East Sea.   Like many of today's visitors, he was enthralled by its beauty and decided to stay.  He was seen by villagers a number of times  ...  thus the name.

As well as riding along its banks, as we were doing, visitors may also be poled along on bamboo rafts.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

At another scenic spot along the Yu Long River, Alan showed us an orchard of kumquats.  These small orbs are thought to have originated in China and were first described in literature in 1178.  They look like miniature oranges ... but they are not. 

 

Scottish botanist, Robert Fortune, in the mid 1800s identified kumquats as having a different, simpler, structure than oranges, lemons, limes, etc. and named its genus as "Fortunella". 

Not being much on botany details, we just enjoyed the bitter-sweet taste of skin and juicy flesh.  Two to a dainty four bites will do it.

Fishermen squat on narrow bamboo rafts and fish with tiny, almost transparent nets.  A basket on one raft awaits the catch.  We wonder how far these men have travelled and if they too appreciate the special beauty that is their homeland.

 

We crossed the river on a very  narrow bridge.  Alan  and son, Angela, Stephen and Terry rode their bikes over.  Alan crossed back on foot and rode Sherrie's bike over.  Sherrie walked.  We all made it across without going into the river.   Next stop, a late lunch with a view of Half Moon Hill.

 
 
 

Lunch was very good, because of the dishes Alan ordered and because of our time spent chatting with him.    Alan asked if we wanted to climb up Moon Hill.   There are 800 steps up a mountain path and an hour is recommend to do the trip.  We passed ... not because of the hike ... nor the great views reported from the top ... the fact is we were just enjoying cruising around on our bikes with Alan and his son too much to want to take time away.  

 The sun was on a downward path creating soft light and shadows.  This fun day was coming to an end all too fast.  

Though it seemed as if we were on a quiet back road, it became clear part of the ride back was over a tourist route.   As we stopped to admire the karsts, including one called "Camel Mountain", a lady came by with a young water buffalo.  Alan explained that the lady would allow pictures to be taken for 5 (72 cents).  We paid ... gladly.  The lady was very nice.

 
 
 

Many Chinese who are connected to the tourist industry have given themselves English nicknames (ie "Alan") since some Chinese names are difficult for English speakers to wrap the back of their tongues around.   Alan's son's name was difficult and we did not want to offend him by pronouncing it incorrectly.  Since he had become an "assistant-tour-guide" for the day, we decided to give him an English nickname of his own.  We called him "A.J." (Alan Junior). 

Alan and his wife would like to have a second child.  Since they are farmers, they are allowed to have a second child.  If A.J. had been born a girl, they could go ahead and have a second child without any problems.  Since their first born was a boy, for Alan and his wife to have a second child they would have to pay the equivalent of $1,000.  That amount of money is equivalent to about three years income.   

 
 
 
 

Just down the road, a baby in a basket and another 5 (72 cents).  Her grandmother was also selling pomelo fruit, the baby added some counter-weight to her basket of fruit.  Photographs probably take in as much money which helps to supplement the family's income.  Entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in China.

"Look back," said Alan coming to another stop.  The setting sun was just lighting the top of a karst as though it were a candle. 

 
 

It was rush-hour on the back roads of China ... 60+ geese and a water buffalo took up the road in front of us.   Just before we turned onto the main highway back into Yangshuo we stopped to watch the sun sink between karst silhouettes.  

There may not be many positives about the smog we have experienced in China, but it sure produces colourful sunsets. 

When we arrived back in Yangshuo and returned the bikes, we asked Alan if he was available to be our guide tomorrow and if he would take us out on the motor bikes again.   The answer to both questions was, "yes".   We paid Alan for the day ... a wonderful day.  Then one at a time we approached A.J. "Xie xie (Thank you)" and as we did we each handed him 1 (14 cents).  With 4 in his clenched fist he looked up proudly to his dad.   It had been a long day for Alan and A.J. and they still had another 50 minutes of night driving to get back home.

We quickly settled into our new rooms at the Hotel Explorer and then returned to the Si Chuan restaurant for dinner.  

Sherrie and Terry were ready to call it a night, but Stephen and Angela still had some youthful energy and stayed out to experience Yangshuo by night.  They were fortunate to meet a young fellow from New England who spoke fluent Mandarin and enjoyed their time immensely.

 

November 11

Again Alan and A.J. met us as we finished our breakfast at Twin Peaks.  Before beginning today's adventures, we used Alan's assistance in making reservations for tomorrow night's sleeper bus. 

We walked through Yangshuo, across the bridge by the lake and out to where our bikes were charged up (electric bikes) and ready to go ... just like us ... charged up and ready to go.

On the highway we stuck to the right in single file.   Alan went slow so we did not feel any pressure ... sometimes we had to ask him to increase the speed.

Off the highway, our first stop was on a bridge over the Yu Long River.   Looking down river we could see, in the morning haze, the faint silhouette of the Xiangui Bridge ... our next destination.

Dating back to 1123, Xiangui Bridge is the oldest bridge in Guangxi Province.  It's single arch, made with 281 blocks (laid crossways in nine sections), has for over 880 years withstood winds, rains and countless amounts of traffic from water buffalo to motorcycles despite the long sets of stairs leading to the top.

 
 
 

The arch also serves as a start point for those who are taking the two hour raft ride down to just near Moon Hill.   Drifting down the river is a most tranquil way to spend time on the Yu Long River, but Alan had invited us to his home for dinner and we had some shopping to do.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The market in Baisha is quite sizable.  Here you can buy most items which can be carried away by hand from caps to catfish, from socks to soybean balls. 

Our first purchase was mandarin oranges.  A selection of vegetables was next ... bean sprouts, mushrooms, tomatoes, lettuce and a number of items which Alan said were okay, when we pointed them out.  We passed on the snake and catfish and chose instead some pork and chicken.  A favourite of A.J.'s was "salmon" ... a little roll that looked like uncooked bread dough with a pink rod running through it.

Alan also took us to the part of the market where they receive, sort and export, to other parts of China and beyond, kumquats and mandarin oranges.

           
                 
 

When we were through, we had bags of goodies and had to divided them up so we could carry them in the compartments of the motorbikes. 

It was still a distance away to Alan's house.   We passed A.J.'s white one level school and enjoyed the country road as we climbed up into the hills.

At a three storey building under construction, we parked the bikes.  The upper floors are the home for the family who is running a store at ground level.  Friends and family were making use of the additional space to socialize and play cards. 

We bought some pop, emptied our bike compartments of our market purchases and then headed further up the hill on foot until we came to the home of Alan and his wife, A.J. and Alan's mother and father.  Alan's mother and wife came out to greet us.

Though we wanted and offered to help, Alan told us to rest on the porch and nibble on dried persimmons while his wife disappeared into the house with our purchases.

His mother took the three head of cattle around the corner of the house and up the hill.

 

After some time lounging around on the front porch and getting a little more acquainted with A.J.; and after numerous requests to be of some help in some way, Alan said we could go into the garden to pick some onions and peppers.

We went into the stone fenced garden opposite the house.  It did not appear to be easy land in which to grow crops as the soil was hard and dry.  We admired what they had growing.

Terry picked some green onions while Stephen and Angela selected some peppers.   Alan explained to us that hot peppers point upwards, while cooler peppers grew downward.   Didn't know that before.   Returning from the garden we joined Alan at the outside water tap and helped wash and clean the vegetables.

There was some more waiting, but we understood.   If it were our home and our kitchen, we could work better, faster and with less stress if our guests were not under foot ... especially if we could not speak the same language.   

They were most kind to invite us to their home. 

   
 
 

 

 

We were asked to come into the house through the door by the outside taps and take a seat around a low circular table.  On the table was a hotplate covered with paper (to protect from spills) and on top a pot bubbling with fresh chicken broth made from the bones of the chicken we bought at the market.  Cooking in the broth was chicken and pork, onions and soybean balls. More came from the kitchen.

 

Lettuce and bean sprouts were added to the pot.  Side dishes of eggs and tomatoes (Alan remembered from yesterday that it was a favourite of Terry's), hot chilli sauce (Alan remembered that Stephen and Ange like hot-foods) and A.J.'s favourite, the salmon.  Being from the west coast of Canada and used to eating the "real thing", after trying we left the simulated "salmon rolls" to A.J..   There were two bowls and a pair of chopsticks at each setting. We used one bowl for our selected items from the hot pot and ate from that bowl using chopsticks. The food was exceptional and our hosts most gracious.  The second bowl was for beverages.  Alan offered rice wine and was a little surprised when Sherrie and Angela accepted.    We sat on small stools.   Sherrie being the elder woman was offered a little chair.  Alan told us that sometimes it is more comfortable to put the stools on their side and sit across the legs.  

 

We ate and talked, and ate and talked, until we could only talk.  Chickens came in to peck off the floor any scraps which dropped as we shared our "home album".   It is a little album we take along on our travels.  It has a map of Canada showing our home province, pictures of Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, photos of each member of our family and some photos of other places we have travelled.   When language is a problem, we find the album speaks volumes.  With people who have kindly shared their time and hospitality with us, it is, in a small way, a way of inviting them to glimpse into our home and "meet" the people who are important to us.

Alan seemed to enjoy the opportunity to practise his English and expand his vocabulary to other than his Yangshuo sightseeing descriptions.  

We asked to help with the dishes and cleanup.  Alan said that his wife would do that, "it's her job."   We felt guilty, because at home everyone chips in to make the workload lighter.   Instead, he wanted us to follow him.

 

Alan led us up a stone path.  This was not all his family's land.  Some belonged to neighbours, another part was owned by his cousin.   Up a steep trail we reached his family's orchard of kumquat and pomelo.  

 
 
 
 
 

Pomelo are a little larger than a grapefruit with a pear shaped exterior.  Under the thick skin, the fruit is about the size of a grapefruit and similar in taste ... a little more tart and a little drier.   Alan said, "The colour not so good (showing one with green tinge on skin), is not expensive; the colour good, golden colour ... expensive."

"How long will they stay on the tree?"

"They are well done now.  Have been too busy to pick." 

"Would you take them to the market that we were at today?" asked Terry.

"Yes," nodded Alan, "and some come from the village to my house [to buy]. They take it away." 

Stephen asked, "How much would a single pomelo sell for?" 

"Oh, about 5 (71 cents)."

"Oh, very good.  So this tree is very valuable," Terry said surveying one of a number of low trees heavy with fruit.   Terry touch one of the pomelo to gauge its weight, as he touched it the weight became heavier and he realized it had come away from the stem and now rested in his hand.   He was startled and apologized to Alan.

"It doesn't matter," Alan consoled Terry.  "They are well done.  You take.   I give you more kumquat and pomelo to take.   You choose," he said opening his arms to the tree.  

"Oh, no Alan, you have given to us already.  We have some we have not eaten yet.  I didn't mean to take it from the tree."

Stephen laughed, "You didn't choose it, it chose you."

It was getting late and we had to go.  Upon Alan's insistence, we did take the pomelo which had chosen Terry along with more kumquats and some delicious dried persimmons. 

Walking back down the hill to the motorbikes, we passed children at play on an old discarded pool table.  It was barely light when we pulled out on our bikes and became dark very quickly.  A.J. who had insisted on making the trip back to Yangshuo fell asleep sitting on the gas tank and balanced in his father's arms.  Before we met the main highway, Alan pulled over to a home of friends and took A.J. inside.  He would pick him up on the way back.  A.J. woke up and insisted once again that he go with his father. 

It was a little tense driving in the dark along the edge of the highway as cars, trucks and buses whizzed passed and bright lights shone in our eyes.   At one point an erratic motorcycle driver (perhaps intoxicated) weaved his way along side us, almost hitting Sherrie who was two bikes behind Alan and A.J..  He swerved, went around Stephen in front and then zigged back again and sideswiped Alan and A.J.. 

Smoke appeared to be coming from Alan's bike as he was knocked to the side and stopped. 

They were okay.  The "smoke" hadn't been smoke at all but the water from a plastic bottle crushed and knocked out of Alan's side pocket (near his foot).  It was frightening to say the least and we were glad when we finally reached Yangshuo ... in total about an hour of riding.   We felt sorry for Alan who now had to make the trip back with a sleeping child in his arms.    A.J. was wide awake though when we again lined up in front of him and gave him another 1 each.

 
 

The night was still young.  After our tense ride a soothing massage would be welcomed.  Just a few doors down from Si Chuan restaurant we booked in.  There were no masseuses on site but soon four young ladies arrived.  Angela and Stephen started off with a foot massage and both reported that it was a good experience.   Terry and Sherrie were wanting body messages.   They were led into the same room with two mattresses and asked to remove their shoes.  While one girl worked on Sherrie the other worked on Terry.  Terry's girl was obviously new at doing this as she kept looking over and trying to copy what was happening to Sherrie while Sherrie's girl gave instructions.   It was not good.   They attempted to give a Thai massage.  There is nothing relaxing about a Thai massage ... not even with the ones we got in Thailand.  We felt beat up by the time we returned to the bar and greeted Ange.  We all waited for Stephen to be finished his massage.

The idea of massages was good ... but we will have to learn to ask more questions before booking in for another.

November 12                           

Morning was a mini-vacation from our travels.  Travelling for long periods of time demands some time off ... a chance to rejuvenate the mind and body with some quiet time.  Results of our massages had left ugly bruises all over Sherrie's back and legs and Terry was worse.

We had a whole day to spend in Yangshuo before catching the night sleeper bus to Guangzhou. We checked out of the Hotel Explorer just before noon and once again left our backpacks with the front desk.   Minnie Mao's Cafe has a terrace right on the lake and it seemed the ideal place to have a slow lunch.  

 

We were delighted when Alan came and joined us.   He was in town looking for his next tour customer and took the opportunity to ask if we would write in his comment book.   It was an honour to do so.  We are most pleased to highly recommend Allan as a guide for any one or any group going to the Yangshuo area. 

Here is his licence information and his business card.   You may also be able to reserve his services through the CITS (Chinese International Tourist Service) in Yangshuo.  

 
 

We believe the contact information for the CITS in Yangshuo is:  location: Xi Jie 110, Yangshuo; telephone: 0773/882-7102; fax: 0773/882-7102; email: citysys@sina.com.cn  Let Alan know how you heard about him and say hello from the Thorne family.

All during our time at Minnie Mao's Cafe we enjoyed soft and gentle music coming from an elderly gentleman playing an er hu ... a traditional two-stringed instrument which even outdates him. 

As we left, we let him know how much his playing had been appreciated.

We strolled the streets, looking into shop windows, like the one on West Street which sells chopsticks of all kinds including folding ones for travel.   

 

Terry had his shoes shined, Stephen had his shined and had his hair cut.   Although there was a price board written in Chinese outside, Stephen was asked to pay much more.  "Ask first" ... we knew that, but let our guard down.  It was still less money than at home ... and it was a good cut.

 

We tried to get lost down side streets, but in Yangshuo that is nigh impossible.   We ended back on Guihua.  It is less expensive than the overly commercialized West Street and holds our favourite Si Chuan restaurant, the bar with the massages (ouch!) and amongst many others, Lucy's Place. 

We perched ourselves on the second floor balcony of Lucy's place, drank pijiu and ate popcorn with chopsticks which fascinated the young male server.  Firstly, he was surprised Canadians knew how to use chopsticks, then he was amazed we wanted to eat popcorn with chopsticks and he was bewildered when we told him that at home we also eat caesar salad and snacks with chopsticks.  Not all Canadian ... just our family.

Lucy is a charming lady (pictured).  The items she has displayed in her place are old tools from her family's farm.  She says it reminds her of her upbringing.  On the main floor wall her customer's have done the decorating with accolades and cartoons.  One prominent plea says, "Marry my brother, Lucy.  Love the food." while another claims, "Lucy's snake is the best. Try it for yourselves."   Her mother (pictured in pink in front of Lucy's Place) is also involved with the cafe/bar.  You can tell they are related, for both have the same winning smile.

 
 
 
 
 

We chatted for awhile with a gentleman sporting white hair and beard and getting around with a cane.  He's from Buffalo, New York.  This is his eighteenth time back to China.  He was once a travel guide but now comes for his own pleasure.  He has seen a lot of changes over the last 20+ years.   

It was getting hard to pass the time before having to catch our bus.   We parked ourselves on one of the bridges which cross Guihua Brook.  Other than Stephen and Angela going into a nearby store to buy some snake wine (wine with snakes pickled in the bottle), we did some people watching.  

We were being watched as well, by four young ladies who finally approached us.  "We are business English students.  May we ask you some questions," was their opening remark.  We had a wonderful conversation with them.  Very nice ladies.  [Photo left to right: Stephen, Donar, Rose, Janne, Mirror and Terry].  We were so pleased to meet them and wish we had met earlier.  We had to end our visit, go to the hotel for our packs and head for the bus stop.  

 

As we got on the sleeper bus we were passed orange plastic bags.  Sherrie was the first on and was not sure what to do with them, but could not go any further until she did something.  Ahhh ... they are to put our shoes in, she thought and began taking off her shoes.  Some frustrating noises came from the driver and his assistant and then some pantomime.   The plastic bags were indeed for our shoes but they were meant to put over our shoes ... with our feet still in them ... like hospital booties.  A look into the bus showed others had done just that.  

We settled in ... the best we could.   We all managed to catch snippets of sleep which helped greatly to pass the time.  We could not help but feel blessed by the  experiences these passed weeks had given us and the wonderful people we had met.   Tomorrow morning we would arrive in Guangzhou ... this was the last week of our China travels and we were not anxious for it to end. 

                           

click here to continue to November 13 and Guangzhou ...

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