Sunday, November 23: This morning, I have a leisurely morning at the Guilin Sapphire Hotel. I walk down the street to a coffee shop where I order some Chinese-style pastry, which I always think is going to taste like Western pastry but doesn’t. I don’t know what it is the Chinese put in pastries but they always have a distinctly Chinese taste. While sitting at the outdoor cafe, I can see a bit of the street framed between two cars. Within this frame, I get momentary glimpses of the different transport contraptions that people here have devised.
After I finish my pastry, I go for a walk up and down the streets around the hotel, where I stop in various shops to look at shoes and clothes. I’ve found it is very frustrating to shop for either shoes or clothes in China because everything is too small. I consider myself a medium-sized person by Western standards, but here in China, I feel like Amazon woman. Often shoe shops don’t carry what equates to my medium 7 1/2 shoe size or my medium top size. And the pants, well forget it. Even the Chinese XXL don’t even begin to fit me!
I wander around just for a bit snapping a few other sights I see along the way.
I booked my train trip home today for 2:30 because I originally planned to see some more sights in the city, but after the disappointment of Elephant Hill Park yesterday, as well as my stomach discomforts, I don’t feel like venturing far from the hotel. I wish I had stayed in Ping’An for another night; I could have had another day wandering around the rice terraces.
Last night, on the way to the massage place, this street was filled with colorful vendors and a festive atmosphere. While I was having my massage, it started raining, and when I went back out the rain had chased away many of the people and vendors. Today it is pretty gray and dreary.
I go by the massage place promptly at 11:00, but when I arrive a young man is lazily sitting in a chair playing with his mobile phone. I saw him here last night and think maybe he’s a relative of the owners; I never saw him do any work last night. I try to ask about the owner, the man who gave me the massage or the woman who gave me the pedicure, but of course he can’t speak English and just tries to get me to sit down and wait with my feet in a tub of hot water. I don’t want to wait unless the man or woman are there, so I leave and go back to wander the streets.
I see fruit for sale and colorful buses and shops.
At around 12:30, I stop back by the massage place, and finally the man and woman are there. The woman gives me an hour-long foot massage for 60 yuan (just under $10), and then I run back to the hotel, grab my bag, and catch a taxi sitting just outside for 15 yuan (the normal price for once!) to the train station.
As always, I enjoy the countryside scenery out of the train window, the green farmland with the fantastical karsts jutting up between the fields. It looks so surreal and beautiful and never fails to amaze me. I arrive in Nanning at around 5:10, 2 hours and 40 minutes later.
From the Nanning train station, I catch a taxi back to the university and settle in to relax and take care of myself. I’m hoping to recover from my stomach problems before the work week begins.