Friday, 30 May 2008

Guiyang (Kwei-Ang in the old diaries)

So, got the sleeper train from Guilin to Guiyang - left at 16.00 so I got to see some of the sites, particularly as it passed through LiuChow [Liuzhou] (if my memory serves me correctly) and was also the same stint that Grandad did by train. Me + 1 in my berth - not a word of english, but we did manage to have an interesting conversation using his laptop & wireless connection and two pages from google translation services (english to chinese and vice-versa). Crashed out at 22.30 and woke with a start at 08.30 - a combination of eye mask, ear plugs and tunnels (so the carriage was dark) meant I'd completely slept through him leaving at an earlier stop which was a bit worrying, but all was well (nothing nicked) and the guards are pretty good at looking after each of their own carrriages, and she'd locked the door again after he'd left.
Scenery on leaving Guilin was pretty much as grandad described it to be honest. First we started through the karst hills that surroung Guilin. These really are impressive, rising vertically to great hights out of seemingly nowhere and surrounded by flat plains all the time. All this flat land is cultivated and the best way I can describe it is, as a massive collection of allotments. Except most of these ones are flooded/irrigated and are growing rice or other crops that need a lot of water. So, the hills begin to thin out, the land gets flatter and views longer until the haze gets in the way and dusk falls.
Arrival in to Guiyang was unremarkable to be honest, the city just seems to rear up in the distance and then you're surrounded by it. Grandad remarks later on in his diary that [Chinese City] is no different from any other Chinese City he's seen and to be honest I have to agree... Taxi to the youth hostel and I check in to my own twin room for Y128, but there's a dodgy smell (Geronimites, you'll recognise it as when the drains kick up at work)- the porter puts on the extractor fan, so I guess that will fix it right? WRONG!

Guilin stinks! I go out for a stroll and to get away from the stench I visit the river. After encountering several U.F.A's (Unidentified Foreign Smells) on the way there, the river's no better. It's a murky grey colour, there are several suspect looking floating black lumps and a worrying amount of bubbles rising to the surface from the riverbed. Stench city. Guiyang is a bit too big to stroll around easily, the roads too busy to hire a bicycle for and to be honest, I can't see the attraction.

Now, it was about this point that I begin to get a combination of travel fatigue/the blues/homesickness (call it what you will) and start asking questions of 'why am I doing this? what's the point if all the places have changed? etc. Travelling solo can be tryin at the best of times, let alone in a country where the language is SO different and so little english is spoken. So, if you're reading this, drop me an email/call on my mobile (see a previous post) as it would be nice to hear from you! PS I'm glad to report the blues have disappeared now and after a session on the beers last night (2am finish) with a couple of american guys and two dutch girls, I'm back on track!

Hit Pizza Hut for some comfort food and booked myself on to a tour to the Dragon's Cave and Huangguoshu falls (the biggest in asia)!

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