Saturday, June 21, 2008

The way to Guilin



Our way from Hainan island to Guilin was relatively uneventful. When I'm saying uneventful, i mean that not a lot can happen while inside a train for 24 hours. It was... an interesting experience, no doubt about it.

When we got to the train station in Sanya on the island, we both decided we would prefer to save our money and try the cheapest seats available on the train. On a Chinese night train there are usually 4 different kind of seats - hard seat, soft seat, hard sleeper, soft sleeper. I already tried the hard sleeper on my way into the island, and I actually liked it, but this time we chose, unfortunately, the hard seats. It was horrible. The seats have no resemblance or compatibility to a human back, and it was relatively packed with people, all trying to compete who looks more like a tetris brick as they were all flexing their muscles in awkward sleeping positions. We both were trying our best to sleep, and Raquel ended up down on the floor.
At 5 am, after a long 9 hours ride, we stepped off the nightmare train at Maoming station. It was still early in the morning, so nothing was alive, except of course the vulture like cab drivers who really wanted to know where we were going. The thing was that we weren't going anywhere, since we had to wait till 9:30 in the morning for the next train towards Guilin. So we settled ourselves at the entrance of the train station, and talked our way into the dawning of a new morning.

Obviously hungry, we tried our rumbling stomachs luck by sitting next to a lone vendor who was selling tiny suspicious dumplings, who turned out to be a delight. Then we entered the Train station. We were a bit down hearted since they didn't have hard sleepers on that train, only seats, but soon it was all forgotten since apparently I've become the new local attraction.
The Security officer smoking something suspicious at the entrance

Me and Raquel are already used to being stared at... China has many places without almost any sort of foreign tourism, so every new bright haired blue eyed critter crossing the town is a thing to be gawked, no doubt. My kind of attractiveness however, were not my eyes, or my hair... or at least the hair on my head. It was probably my chest hair. Every now and than I would get the approving smirk of a passing Chinese while pointing at my chest. There was also a little cute girl who really got her kicks by pulling out my arm pit hairs, and touching my chest hair. But beyond that, every English-abled person saw Raquel and I as an opportunity to practice their English, and, as we found out, to get our picture with them on their cell-phones. I think I took photos with 4 people, with two people taking my e-mail.


It wasn't so different on the train (the seats were better by the way). People were obviously staring at us, with even some of them trying to talk to us. For me I felt a bit of shame not having any means of communications with those nice people who were clearly thrilled about us (and my freaky chest hair!). The fun part started when I saw people being served with catered food, such as rice and some unidentifiable meat stuffs. I wanted to check how can Raquel and I can get some of the action, and that's when all those Chinese eyes turned on me, trying to hand signal something like "who do I have to give a blow-job to get some rice here!?" to one of the train officers. Obviously they didn't understand... Even pointing directly to someone eating the rice was futile, apparently. But then the young fellas in front of us in the seats made it their mission to help us out. They went to another train car, and came back with this plump geeky Chinese girl, who looked like something you would beat up at school, but I could have kissed her at the moment, all because she actually knew English. She explained us that the food comes only at certain stations, and that we can have noodles (I'm summarizing a half an hour explanation). She even offered us some of her food, which consisted some sort of feet with nails, so we graciously declined. Soon another girl joined the English fencing duel, and the four of them with the two of us were enjoying a lovely conversation about whatever they could actually understand. In the end there was some E-mail exchanging and photo-taking, and we gratefully paid one of the guys for the pretzels he just bought and munched them down.

The helping family. Don't ask me their names, and not how old they are

The ride was much easier on our backs, and on our eyes. The scenery was nothing short of gorgeous. Really. I was impressed... Mountains upon rolling hills upon Jagged limestone rocks all covered in lush green were littering the horizon, while soggy old looking villages and town, surrounded by bountiful rice crops were all there was to see for hundreds of miles. No doubt I was looking at only a fraction of what china has to offer, but I was finally starting to like it. as we were getting closer to Guilin, we could see in the distance a hint of what was awaiting us, a sort of a lime stone rock forest, something Thailand could only dream to have.



We arrived at Guilin at 19:30 pm. At the station, there was one of the hostel workers,waiting for us with my name on a piece of paper. He lead us to the hostel, which was a pleasant surprise since it was new and clean. After a quick shower and settling down, we went out to see what this town has to offer.

4 comments:

Ayelet said...

Now I'm REALLY glad that we forced you to take some action. You look a zillion times happier then you did when you were here.
We're glad you're having fun, even though we have to do the dishes ourselves, and poor Ez had to do sponja today. Really, have you no mercy?

Enjoy yourself, both of you. And just remember who was supportive and discrete, eh? (you can show your appreciation by sending gifts).

Toam sends you smiles and cuteness and dirty diapers.

Ayelet said...

And did you see this picture?
http://www.flickr.com/photos/scully153/2564309934/

ezaton said...

Piercing. Nice. :-)

Ez

pedro said...

Hey, boddy!!! What's up!
I see you having incredible fun and being very in love!
Wow!!!
I'm happy sharing your trip while I'm working.
Ahghghghg!!!!!

pEdrO