01 September 2010


It's been an age since my last post, nearly four weeks and my longest sojourn so far.  Since then, we've completed south China, gone into Laos, and then to Thailand.  Reasons for not posting?  Slothfulness, travelling with Scott (a guy who we lived with in London for 3 years), which gave me an extra drinking buddy, and a bout of Dengue fever, which has seen me laid low for the past few days, but which I'm on the road to recovery from now.  Anyway, let me run through some of our last three weeks of China in this edition.

Leaving Guilin, we got a sleeper bus (left) on the way to our next destination, Kaili.  It was an awful experience.  Beds so small that I imagine the Chinese struggled to fit in them, and a bumpy bus ride.  I barely got a wink’s sleep all night.  Somehow the Chinese seem able to sleep in any position, anywhere.  The amount of toll roads was also crazy; throughout the 11 hour journey, we must have gone through about 20 of them.

We had a three hour train trip to after it to reach Kaili, and, a rarity in China, it was less than half full.  I grabbed myself a bench and slept for most of it, being woken only intermittently by a guy in the next set of seats trying to hawk out the window every couple of minutes.  Chinese men (and some women) spit a lot.  You see it much less so in the cities, but it’s still there.  I remember huge ad campaigns in 2004 when I was in Shanghai against it.  Audrey says it definitely happens less than it did back then.

We hadn’t bothered to book accommodation in advance for Kaili, as it’s quite a touristy area so there would be a few options.  The problem was that most of those options did not accept foreigners.  We hadn’t experienced this before, but knew that in the past it had been a common problem.  After the 4th hotel, we finally got one, but it was manky as hell, and had no air-con.  Luckily the receptionist pointed us in the direction of another that had air-con, and took my sort.

The hotel advertised prices of about 290 yuan (less than £30, an extortionate amount in China) a night, but for some reason they quote a price of only 150 when you enquire.  No idea why.  Again, we spent a few days pottering around, visiting some ethnic villages outside the main town.

In the villages, we got to see more of rural life.  These ethnic minorities had lots of their own culture, music, dress and food (although there are 6 million of the Miao group, which is a lot by some measures, but not against Chinas population).  Again the rice paddies amazed me, and the general layout of the land; how so many people survived in such mountainous regions.


Preparation of food was pretty raw,.  By this stage, I was getting tired of Chinese food, and some of the stuff served to us was pretty ropey, and looked even worse.  I’d have killed for a spud or two.  In restaurants, you would see the owner bring out the chicken to the larger groups of people so that they could inspect it before it was killed.  We were offered the chance to watch a pig being slaughtered (we declined).

I’m quite looking forward to getting out of China for a while now.  Including our time in HK, it’s been nearly 8 weeks.  It’s interesting, but quite sedate.  We’ll be in Laos in less than two weeks, where we will meet up with our former housemate Scott for a couple of weeks.

After four days in Kaili, we got a night train to Kunming.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like ur recovering just fine. ;-)

Sokratees9 said...

That was all a few weeks before I got struck down. Still convalescing in Bangkok.

Anonymous said...

I like the last picture. Proper traditional houses. --Tony

Unknown said...


sounds like Trigger must run that hotel. You should have haggled. Real life Trig actually died this week I heard I think.

As for that bloke hawking out the windown, disgusing habit. Hope you didn't have the window open. Nothing worse than when.....