Round the World


Guangzhou doesn’t have a lot to for the tourist to see and do but a temple and a pagoda that were near to each other seemed worth a trip on the subway. The temple was nice enough and very busy with locals all burning incense sticks as the prayed. Unfortunately the main building was being restored and you couldn’t get near it. The pagoda promised to be more spectacular but when I arrived at the ticket window they were looking to charge me 11 yuan when every one else was paying 1 or 2. I don’t like blatant rip-offs so I just left.

Whilst most of Guangzhou is fairly chaotic, especially round the main train station, the subway is new and efficient, however I was amazed at the trouble the locals had using it. Many of them seemed to have real trouble with the ticket machines despite being wonderfully simple (you touch the station on the map you want to go to and it tells you how much the fare is). Even stepping onto the escalators seemed to give several significant pause. 

Between my hotel and the nearest subway station stands Peaceful Market. One of the first to spring up when China first implemented some market reform it sells fresh dried produce like nuts, fungi, fruits, etc. Apparently for a few years it was the place to buy endangered and exotic animals before the authorities stamped out the trade. Always busy and an effort to get from one end to the other it reminded me that many of the locals, even when in a bustling crowd, seem to dawdle when walking. Still slowing down you got to see more of what was on sale and looking back I can’t believe I didn’t take a photograph.

After a couple of nights in Guangzhou I caught the overnight sleeper train to Guilin. Unfortunately two of the Chinese gentlemen kept talking with their lights on until well past midnight. By that time I was angry and frustrated and struggled to get to sleep. On getting to Guilin I jumped straight on a bus to Yangshuo. The journey should have taken an hour, but took nearer two by the time it circled the town looking for passengers.

Yangshuo is a tourist town stuck in the middle of some dramatic peaks. It promised to be a bit of a backpacker haunt where I might meet a few fellow travellers in the evening. I spent much of the day I arrived catching up on lost sleep before heading out in the evening. Although this started out as a backpacker ghetto it is now very much a destination of choice for busloads of Chinese tourists. Foreign tourists would have been lucky to have made up 10% of numbers that Sunday night and many of those appeared to package tourists. That has brought several unattractive features to the town like insistent traders and numerous brothels; many of the hairdressing places during the day put out the pink fluorescent lights at night.

I was looking to get more done on Monday but it rained very heavily all day. Luckily I still had my brolly from New York so could get out and about for some food. An email from Hong Kong today told me they had a level 8 typhoon warning and had the day off work. I take it our rain was the edge of this typhoon. 

It’s midday tuesday now and I’m still trying to make up plans for the next few days and weeks but have been in a lazy frame of mind.

For those of you who knew my ex-girlfriend Catherine she is getting married this Saturday. Congratulations in advance to them both.

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