The intrepid Aimee Groom (aka DFH) is back from her own travels in Europe but the story continues as we approach Chinese New Year in MEET THE GROOMS! Think of it as China Travel Reality TV holiday special (without the TV).So, without further ado, please Meet John and Lesley Groom, the backpackers with a bus pass. In December 2008, this adventurous pair of Shanghai, Zhejiang, Anhui, Taiwan, Fujian, Guizhou and Jiangsu. >>>
Sent: Tue, January 20, 2009 11:02:52 AM
Subject: Back into China
Hello, Lesley here. The airport at Kaohsiung was deserted. It seems that since building the High Speed Railway domestic flights have virtually become defunct. Perhaps something we could learn at home! There was a diplomatic incident at the airport when they refused John his OAP half-price concession that the nice girl at Taipei had promised him. They said it only applied to Taiwanese and not foreigners. Anyway, as we waited to get on the plane we had to grit our teeth and try and remember his face in case he ever comes to England. The plane was a propeller job and apart from putting the brakes on before it touched the ground all was OK and we were on Jinmen Island (also known as Quemoy or Kinmen).
It would have been nice to have had a look around it but there was not enough time and we just had a twenty minute taxi ride to see it.
At the Taiwan end of the ferry everything was easy and John was given his pensioner’s discount and went half-price. The ferry was a big Sea Cat. It was chaotic at the Chinese end (Xiamen) and we got stopped. For a moment it seemed the Pyjama Police had a warrant out for us but then it transpired they just needed another immigration form. We looked bemused as they filled the forms in for us and we both pushed the smiley face button! Anyway we got back into China safely.
You know the amazing thing about our two weeks in Taiwan was that we did not see, let alone speak to another English person.
Back here in China you realize just how bad the Chinese driving is after the relative calm of Taiwan. They seem to rely too much on traffic lights that nobody takes any notice of and there are very few roundabouts. As they just go from A to B by the shortest route, I don't think you would ever get them all going the same way round one!
In Xiamen we are staying in another Youth Hostel which has really good facilities.
Today we were driven for three hours by a lunatic in a van to Yonding to have a look at a Hakka village. The Hakkas were Chinese gypsies but settled in this area, building huge round or square mud buildings to house families or communities. The mud walls are a meter thick. We are staying in a Hakka house overnight. The room is OK but we have to go downstairs to the shower and downstairs through the restaurant along a corridor and outside the building to the toilet. There are two problems. Firstly there is nothing to do here at night except drink beer. Secondly the way out to the toilet through the meter-thick wall is shut at night with a huge thick wooden door with a bar across it. I can't help remembering we are back in China where the Pyjama Police operate—I can't afford to get caught outside the walls in my pyjamas. So, it's make your mind up time: Have a drink and wet the bed or have drink and get caught by the Pyjama Police. Not having a drink is not an option!!!
Will let you know how we get on.