Sunday, October 26: I have to catch the three-wheeled taxi to the Daxin bus station this morning for the 9:00 bus to Nanning. I don’t eat any breakfast or drink anything again because I don’t know if the bus will make any stops for bathroom breaks along the way. I flag down the taxi on the street and ask the for the bus station in Chinese and the taxi driver seems to understand. Success!
Here’s my view out the back of the three-wheeled taxi. As you can see, it’s actually a sunny day today with some blue skies and white fluffy clouds. Too bad it wasn’t like this yesterday while I was at the waterfall! Sadly, we can’t always choose our weather when we’re traveling.
And here’s my view over the taxi driver’s shoulder.
The bus station in Daxin is quite nice as far as bus stations go. I’m surprised to find it nicer and newer than the train stations in either Nanning or Guilin.
I found it strange that my ticket to Nanning was only 52 yuan, while the ticket FROM Nanning TO Daxin was 74. It made me question whether the bus ride was DIRECT to Nanning or one that makes a million stops along the way to pick up local passengers. After I bought the ticket last evening, I had texted a photo of the ticket to Angela to have her confirm it was direct. She said it was.
Soon after we get underway at 9:00, the bus makes a stop to pick up a bag of merchandise, which the driver puts in the compartment under the bus.
Within another 10 minutes, we stop to pick up some more passengers. Uh-oh. It’s quite a long stop, about 10 minutes, as we sit doing I don’t know what. Some woman has gotten on the bus with a receipt book and is questioning various people.
Soon after that, we make ANOTHER stop where some kind of official-looking fellows in blue shirts walk up and down the aisles, checking out the passengers. At this third stop, within a half hour on what is supposed to be a DIRECT bus ride, I can’t help but call Angela to question the bus driver. He confirms to her that it is a direct bus, but it had to stop for an inspection to make sure the number of the people on the bus didn’t exceed a certain number. He didn’t address the other two stops. He says the bus is due to arrive in Nanning at 12:30. So the bus ride TO Nanning will be 3 1/2 hours, while the ride TO Daxin from Nanning was only 3 hours. Hmmm.
After the bus driver talks to Angela, he doesn’t make any more stops to pick up passengers. Thank goodness. It would be a VERY long ride back to Nanning if he continued to do this.
I sit back and relax and enjoy the scenery out the window. It’s beautiful. I attempt to take a few shots of the rice and sugar cane fields and the karst landscape out the bus window with my iPhone. Not great pictures, but you can get an idea of what I see.
During the bus ride, I’m getting more text messages from Lacey about the birthday cake delivery. She tells me she’s figured out where I live. She asks if she can bring the cake on Monday at the 20 minute break between my classes. I tell her I’d prefer she bring it AFTER my classes end, at noon. We agree on that time.
I also continue to get happy birthday text messages from a few of my student stragglers.
At 11:00, I’m happily surprised when the bus stops for a bathroom break at a highway rest area. So maybe buses don’t stop for a three-hour trip but they stop if the trip is 3 1/2 hours or more!
I arrive in Nanning as planned at 12:30. I take the 76 bus back to the university front gate. I’m happy to be back home after that challenging journey. Late in the afternoon, after I’m all settled in for the evening, I put on my pajamas and start looking through my pictures.
At 7:30 p.m. I get a phone call from Lacey. “We’re here at your apartment with the cake!” I say, “I’m in my pajamas! I thought you were bringing the cake Monday after my class.”
I go out to the door and welcome them in. They have a huge cake!! They ask if they can take pictures. I tell them I’d prefer they didn’t since I’m in my pajamas!! It’s really awkward because after all those text messages and our final agreement that she’d bring the cake on Monday, I wasn’t at all expecting a delivery by three students, two girls and a boy, at my home while I’m sitting around in my pajamas!!
Monday, October 27: Today I invite my colleagues in the Experimental Building to come by my apartment for a piece of cake if they feel like it. My friend Erica takes some pictures of me with the cake before I cut into it. As you can see, it’s enough for an army!
I get her to take one picture of me sitting on the new Chinese bedding I bought myself for my birthday. 🙂
Here’s the cake. Notice the tomato off center. The Chinese consider tomato a fruit, which it is of course, and they add it to their fruit cakes.
Later in the afternoon, several other people come by to share the cake. Here’s my friend Gavin.
On top of the visitors coming by to share my cake, the university also decided to replace many of the teachers’ computers and televisions. I had one of those ancient box-like TVs that barely worked, and my computer didn’t work at all. This afternoon, Chen, our man on the ground, brought me a brand new Sony flat-screen TV and a new Lenovo flat screen computer that works! (I’ve been using my Mac since I got here.) Even though of course these things belong to the university, they’re mine to use for this year.
I’d say overall it’s been a pretty memorable birthday for my last celebration before I hit the big 6-0. One more year to go!