07 August 2010

Back in China

We left HK on the 24th of July, taking the subway (really a train that has been integrated into the system) to the border, then crossing on foot and getting the train from Shenzhen.  At the station entrance, we ran our bags through the pointless scanning machines that the government has deemed necessary everywhere, and went in.  I believe the scanning machines exist simply to provide more employment, as how they are used seems so useless.  Some stares blankly at a terminal from time-to-time, while hundred of people try and force their stuff through.  And they are in bus stations, train stations, subway systems, Tiananmen Square and shopping malls.

Another job creation scheme run by the lads at the top is ticket checking.  On each train journey, we normally get our tickets checked at least five times.  Once to get into the train station, once to get from the waiting area to the platform, sometimes to get on the train, X amount of times on the train, and finally as you try to leave the destination station.

It was our first hard sleeper in China, and it was rock hard.  The Russian ones were much better, and I didn’t get much sleep.  We arrived in Guilin, and took the first bus we could find out of there to a small place called Yangshao.

The hostel there was possibly the best one so far.  Run by a Dutch guy and a Belgian woman, the Outside Inn was a very rural and rustic affair, out in the countryside, with animals roaming the grounds and locals working the land.  The scenery was great, and we spent a couple of days doing some biking (tandem, as Audrey isn’t too hot with handlebars), hiking and drifting on rivers on bamboo rafts.

I’ve decided to give Chinese beer more of a wide berth this time in China.  I’d only bother with the occasional one, instead plumping for an orange juice or whatever else was available.  It’s stunning how pointless their beer is.  Even in south China, all the beer tastes the same as in north China, watery and weak, most of seeming to be brewed by the ubiquitous Yanjing brewery.  I’ve found one beer by the Zhujiang brewery, but at 2.5% was nothing like described here.

It was a very uneventful time, which was a nice change, and we left after a couple of days.