17 Jun 2010 @ 6:54 AM 

Click here to view the pictures for this entry!

Loyal blog readers, it has been a crazy few days for your beloved adventurers. We also found out that facebook, twitter, and youtube are all BANNED here in China, so it looks like we won’t be on there to tell you about new blog entries (and therefore will stop spamming your news feed). So now I will try to start back at the beginning of our Mainland China travels, although that seems like ages and ages ago.

We boarded an overnight train to Guilin at 6pm. On this train, I was first introduced to the ‘non-western toilet’. Trying to use one of these for the first time in a moving train probably isn’t the best idea, I don’t advise it. We arrived in Guilin in the midst of a downpour, where we met the man responsible for getting us to our tour of the Li river. The downpour was turning the stairways into waterfalls, but some helpful Asians grabbed onto us and pulled us under their umbrellas for protection. The river cruise was beautiful, despite the rain. We sat across from a family where only the 5 year old son spoke English, he was very sweet and kept giving us candy, which to our surprise turned out to be beef candy. Weird, but a cute gesture nonetheless.

We got off of the river boat down the river in Yangshuo, which is well known for being a backpackers’ paradise. It was a quaint little town, and after the rain let up, we enjoyed wandering around the streets looking at all the markets and their creative English translations on signs. We ate at an Australian themed bar in honor of our friend Jac, where we drank giant, giant $1 beers. Did I mention they were giant? By this time, we were feeling pretty great about life, so we headed to the famous rooftop bar of our hostel, Monkey Jane’s, to watch the world cup game. The view of the karst scenery from the rooftop was breathtaking, to say the least. We met some self proclaimed ‘charming Danes’ and continued to drink with them all night. They were finishing up the backwards version of the trip we are on, so we had a lot to talk about. Monkey Jane sponsors and plays in beer pong tournaments every night, and somehow Sunil became our Danish friend’s beer pong partner. They ended up playing several tournaments, some for prizes and some for pride. They beat Monkey Jane once and lost to her once. We also met a guy from Jerusalem, who entertained us with tales from the places we are about to travel to. As can be expected in a city with $1 giant beers, the night gets a little hazy at this point, but I know it was a great time.

The next morning, we woke up at 6am to meet our next guide for our tour of the rice terraces. Monkey Jane was already awake and was so amused that we were also up that early, she gave Sunil a free shirt. He seems to get lots of free shirts traveling.

The rice terraces were beautiful. We saw a show and sampled some food by some of the local minorities (4 of China’s 55 ethnic minorities live in the Longji rice terraces). We hiked up two peaks to see both sets of rice terraces, which I whined a lot about while we were doing it, but it was worth it. We then boarded a bus back to Guilin, which is where things started to head downhill for yours truly. We arrived at the hostel in the pouring rain, only to realize I had left my camera on the bus when they booted us off in the middle of the street. When we called the tour guide, he said it was not on the bus. The most beautiful pictures of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life were gone, along with my ability to take any more pictures. Needless to say, I had a full scale melt down.

The next morning, we headed to the train station, only to find out right before the train was boarding that the person buying our tickets had purchased them to depart from the city’s nothern station. We were at the southern station. We hailed a cab and paid the driver a hefty sum (for China) to get us there on time, which she did. The ride also had the effect of making my life flash before my eyes, pretty exciting stuff. We hopped on the train and met some new Chinese friends and played rummy with them for hours. Teaching a card game without using any English is actually pretty funny, and we had a good time. Sadly, our friends were not taking the train as far as us and deboarded in the middle of the night. At around 3 AM, Sunil finally had to stop being a baby and poop in the nonwestern train toilet because he had liquid poops that needed to come out. From what I hear, he ruined the toilet, although I don’t know how you ruin a hole in the floor of a train. He also ate an anti-diarrheal pill to make sure it didn’t happen again on the train.

We arrived an hour late in Chengdu and our ride to the hostel was nowhere to be found. We wandered around the town searching for wireless or anyone who spoke English. Neither existed. At this point, I started insisting that I hated China. This was probably an unfair judgement, in retrospect, because eventually some kind man off of the street helped us out. He found us some friends in a business with internet after the internet cafe turned us away for not having IDs issued by China. He then called the hostel and walked us there, which was quite a hike. Sunil and I wanted to give him at least some money to take a cab back to where we found him as it was forever far away, but he refused. We arrived safe and mostly sound at Sim’s Cozy Garden Hostel, which is actually more like an entire town. They are currently washing our clothes for us (which smell god-awful from being sweaty and wet from the rain in backpacks for days) while we drink orange soda and watch soccer. Tomorrow it’s off to see the pandas and then onto a two day long train to Tibet. Hopefully Tibet will involve less being lost and less loss of personal items and personal dignity. Although Sunil still might be pooping his brains out, so I’m pretty sure we should just give up on the dignity now. If he’s not pooping, he will update you on our Tibet adventures once we have some!

Whose face is on all of China’s currency?

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Posted By: Robin
Last Edit: 11 Jul 2010 @ 07:25 AM

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