We’ve seen a good improvement in our experience of China since the last post. I’m sure you’ll all be glad to hear that and as Kat points out, at least we’re not at work. Fair enough.
We had a delivery of 11th hour train tickets on Wednesday and so boarded our two night sleeper train. You might think we’re mad for getting on yet another sleeper train after the earlier write up. The only other choice is flying and we’re trying to be good and not using the planes.
It turned out that luck was on our side and we were sleeping next to three Chinese versions of John’s aunt Ros. They fed us all sorts of things and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Most of it was pretty healthy. It’s the only period in my life when i’ve eaten two entire cucumbers in 24 hours. We had lots of fun talking to and being mothered by these women, who turned out to be physics lecturers from a Xian University! We were really upset when we woke on Friday morning to find that they had already gone. It would have been nice to say goodbye.
I think this is a good time to snitch on John. HE’S EATEN AND ENJOYED CUCUMBER. OK it was cooked in a stir fry but he ate it alright. I saw it with my own eyes.
When we arrived in Nanning on Friday morning it was a bit different. The locals are not used to travellers/tourists and so were not trying to sell us anything. The average level of English was zero. It was more fun that way. The place did seem a little miserable at first as a few people in a row didn’t really want to play the improvised communication game and just shook their heads. After we handed in our Vienamese visa application we actually managed to get some train tickets booked (yes, hooray the first time!) This was largely thanks to John’s impressive copying of Chinese characters which we presented to the train station staff.
We couldn’t believe our luck. Things had gone smoothly for a change. (This is by Chinese standards, it still actually took us 7 hours to sort everthing). We were happy though so earned the right to get leathered in our hotel room. Happy days, one of the best nights we’ve had in ages!
Today we arrived in Yangshuo. On the way we met more women who gave us food. Very tastly corn on the cob this time. We’ve not really had much of a chance to explore Yangshao yet as we’re a bit tired from the 7 hour journey and the previous evening’s merryment. The Kaarst landscape is absolutely stunning though and we can’t wait to hit the hills.
We’re staying with a Chinese family here. They’re very nice, if a little shy at the moment. We all ate around the family table this evening (lovely!!) and we’ve already had a Chinese language lesson. Our memories are abysmal so we need to practice a fair bit.
Tomorrow we’re going out on bikes and having a cooking lesson.
Doesn’t that sound better? It seems that not all of China is the same. It is still pretty busy down here but doesn’t seem as bad. Someone even let us cross the road yesterday! To be honest some of our new found optimism may stem from us slowing down the travelling a little, to some extent we may be getting used to the Chinese way but I think the best of China is definately away from the main cities and tourist traps. Seems obvious doesn’t it?