The intrepid Aimee Groom (aka Daughter From Hell) 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 27, 2009 1:38:39 PM
Subject: Travels in China cont'd
Thought about Gladys Knight and the Pips ("Help Me Make it Through the Night") and survived until the morning when we made a dash for the loo.
You know how odd things amuse you... the loo was the standard squat job (but clean), washed hands in what seemed to be the Chinese equivalent to Toilet Duck and then looked round to dry them. On the wall was what looked like the original prototype of an electric hand drier with wires all over the place. Put hands under it and it actually worked. Fantastic.
What was not fantastic was the breakfast of fried egg with steamed bread. Put syrup on it and it would have made a good dessert.
Then we were off again with the lunatic in the white van to visit more Hakka earth buildings and more horrendous driving. He didn't seem to learn from one near death experience to the next. He didn't speak any English. We had asked at the Hakka house what his name was. They said "Mr Wu." We said, "do we call him Wu or Mr Wu?" and were told "Mr. Wu." Anyway we did get back in one piece.
Reflections on the Hakka trip: The buildings are quite amazing and one can understand the advantages of a whole community being under one roof. The older men and women all work. Young girls do hard manual building work. The young men seem to do nothing other than pose and ride around on motorbikes. Finally, why do they put the claws in with chicken dishes?
So back to Xiamen and another happy hour or so in a bank changing travelers' checks. Not just the usual pen on a string here but a pair of reading glasses for the customers as well, and the usual smiley face button to push if you didn't mind spending an hour in the bank.
Then a ferry to the island (Gulangyu) which was really nice with old colonial buildings; smoking areas marked with yellow lines and an aviary full of birds and notices saying "no tossing"! Then back to knock off another temple before an early night.
Why an early night? Well DFH booked us on a flight to Guiyang at 7:30 a.m. which meant waking up at 5:00 a.m. and getting out and trying to get a taxi at 6:00 a.m.! Anyway we made it to the airport which was chaotic and the first experience of what Chinese New Year means as far as traveling is concerned. Even the taxi driver seemed amazed. Anyway then we find the bloody plane isn't going to Guiyang anyway. First it's going to Nanchang—a god forsaken freezing place in the middle of nowhere. So at Nanchang we are thrown of the plane but eventually allowed on again and then to Guiyang. Presumably this is all DFH's idea of a joke!
Outside the airport we had to manhandle a couple of Chinese lads who tried to push in the front of the taxi queue. They didn't fight back.
Eventually got to Guiyang which is surrounded by hills and is nice by the river, otherwise not much to commend it. It has its downsides. The driving is aggressive, they drive on the pavement and park up against the shop windows. They even hoot at pedestrians to get out of the way as they drive on the pavement! Also no matter what improvement they made in Beijing for the Olympic Games the spitting here is horrendous.
Anyway DFH and FCUK have turned up. They should have a hire care and it should be an easy ride from now. Nothing to worry about. However the car hire company has shut its office in Guilin and the roads and driving round here are so bad no other hire company will hire a care to anyone but a local. So we have to have a car with a driver but what have we got? We have got a taxi complete with taxi sign and meter. It's like Cliff Richard going on holiday on a London Bus!
It hasn't got a CD player so DFH is unemployed and has been relegated to the back of the car. The driver Mr Tao is a careful driver so really everything's fine and tomorrow we go off to visit the huge caves at Zhijin.
More MEET the Grooms!