Melanie Spiller & Coloratura Consulting
A Tonic for Ramshackle Wordsmiths
Copyright Melanie Spiller 2011. Do not copy without permission.
Letters from China: January 24, 2010
This afternoon, we were supposed to go rafting, but the river is flooded due to unseasonal rain (ahem). Our guide made arrangements for us to see the area by golf cart instead, but the driver who had custody of my dad and me suddenly took off in a different direction with wild abandon and crazy speed, basically kidnapping us. And we don't speak any Chinese. Uh oh. Finally he stopped by some sort of tourist attraction, but it looked pretty seedy, so we insisted on waiting by the road. After about 15 minutes, one of the other golf carts came by. Fortunately, one passenger on that cart spoke some Chinese, so after a lot of waiting and wondering what became of the others and about 45 minutes later, we finally got the drivers to agree to take us back to the hotel. We had to just about drag our feet out the doors of the cart to get our driver to go at a reasonable speed, which was not as fun, but made the potholes less, un, bum-breaking and we were able to see some scenery. We got back to the hotel just as our missing third party did, and after our Chinese-speaking host laid into our runaway driver, we all had a good laugh.
Next up, we will try to go rafting again tomorrow, but if the water is still too high, we'll do some scenery watching. The area is quite rural, but not as painfully poor as where we were in Yunnan. They have completely yummy tangerines EVERYwhere, too. You get about 5 lbs for 2 yuan, which I think works out to about $0.25. I have eaten many many tangerines and can attest to their deliciousness, but if you would like me to eat some of your supply to make sure, I will be most happy to oblige.
Tomorrow evening, we catch a plane home, although we will have a 10-hour stop-over in Seoul (we will tour it briefly), which is exciting and sad at the same time. It will be nice to have dry feet (my poor shoe sprang a leak and I can't find a pair of shoes that fit even here where everyone has itty bitty feet--how is it possible that my feet are too small even in a country of itty bitty people???--and I've put that poor foot into a plastic bag that doesn't really keep me dry, but at least it reflects my own heat back so my tootsies aren't cold any more) and to wear something other than this small selection of now somewhat stinky clothes.
Home in two days…..
After the Dong villages, we caught a plane to the ultra-modern town of Guilin. This place is all bright lights and parks and other sorts of fabulousnesses. The hotel, too, was fabulous and very, um, modern. (Not to disparage the others, but at least the toilet wasn't a squat, you know?) There were wonderful green things growing everywhere, and you can just ask the farmer to sell you some. Then you take it to the local restaurant and they cook it up for you.
From Guilin, we headed out into the sticks again, to look at Miao villages. We stayed in a few, including one where my father was suddenly wedded to some unknown 20-year-old during a dancing and music demonstration. He never did see her face, as it was covered by a bright red scarf the whole time. Two other tourists were also suddenly wed, but I suspect that they might have already been married. The whole thing was very humorous and fun, and we have been teasing my dad about marrying random young women and alimony and dowries the whole rest of the trip.
In the morning, there was an exhibition of horse fighting, where two horses are annoyed by their owners until they start biting and kicking each other. I did not enjoy this particularly, but the story that belongs with it is nice. The story goes that there were two suitable suitors for the emperor's daughter and he couldn't decide between them, so he had their horses fight, deciding the match. Fortunately, the fight we watched didn't last long because one of them escaped his owner's rope and ran off down the river.
We visited a couple more Miao villages, including one that Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton visited, and then back we went to Guilin. In Guilin, we took a lovely night-time river and lake cruise and saw the lights, many bridges, and much fine artwork. Oh, and the Guilin-style noodles are the best I've ever tasted. Ask your local Chinese place if they can get Guilin-style noodles. (Pronounced gwee-lihn’.)
From there, we headed to Yangshuo, where I am now. This is a smallish city, lots of construction going on, and a thriving downtown shopping district with a pleasant mix of modern and traditional things. Just outside of town, we walked about two miles inside a cave with incredible stalactites and stalagmites. I took a whole bunch of pictures, although, like the mounds of hillock around this area, when looked at out of context of where we were at the time, this will probably seem like too many.