Yangmei Ancient Town

twenty-fourteen

In twenty-fourteen, I: Got waylaid in Denver after snow and de-icing delays on a flight from Washington to Burbank, California.  Shared Sunset Rolls and Fire Dragon Rolls, Sapporo and warm saké, with my little sister Stephanie, and then met The Invisible Woman in LA.  On foggy Venice Beach, wandered past muscle men, tattoo parlors, surfboards and funnel cakes, and contemplated the medical marijuana advertised for sale.  Caught glimpses of adorable houses, with secret patios and lazy cats, on a stroll through the Venice Walk-Streets.  Went window shopping on Abbott Kinney Boulevard.  Drove six hours to San Francisco from LA through a parched California landscape to meet my friend Jayne. Laughed at the antics of harbor seals at Fisherman’s Wharf and met Monarch butterflies that looked like clusters of densely packed brown leaves at the Monarch Grove Sanctuary in Monterey. Drove 17-Mile-Drive at Pebble Beach.  Sampled some wine on the Silverado Trail.  Saw the iconic cloud-shrouded Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco from the deck of the Sausalito Ferry. Laughed at the antics of sea lions at Pier 39.  On the way back to LA, vicariously lived the high life at Hearst Castle in San Simeon.  Dropped by Old Mission Santa Barbara, walked through fan palms and California chaparral at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, and ate fish tacos on Stearns Wharf.  Visited the garden at Mission Buenaventura in Ventura.  Met Rosie of wandering rose and listened to the reverberations of classic rock at Bob’s Big Boy‘s classic car show.  Was inspired by a Poets & Writers LIVE! event in Los Angeles, where I embarrassed myself in front of Chinese writer Da Chen (My Last Empress) when he asked me the for the title of my book and a business card (I had neither).  Had cocktails at the Brig and ate dinner out of a food truck on Abbott Kinney.  Took a hike with Rosie around Corral Canyon in Malibu and ate more fish tacos at Malibu Seafood.  Left behind sunny California to head back to icy Virginia (nomad, interrupted).

Click on any of the pictures below for a full-sized slide show.

Saw tundra swans and parchment-like leaves dangling like wind-chimes on American beeches at Mason Neck State Park. Was inspired by National Geographic’s 2013 Travelers of the Year.  Saw seagulls walking on water at ice-encased Annapolis Harbor.  Learned 20 things about Storytelling Photography from National Geographic photographers Ami Vitale and Melissa Farlow.  Chased freight trains and photos along the CSX Main Line at Henryton, Maryland.  Suffered through snowstorm after snowstorm in Northern Virginia, and then searched for spring at Green Spring Gardens.  Heard the thundering roar of Great Falls while strolling with Alex, Bailey and Mike along the Patowmack Canal.  Took a photowalk through the hardscrabble part of Baltimore.  Found the gravesite of the patentee of the Ouija Board at Green Mount Cemetery.  Walked Richmond’s Monument Avenue 10k in the rain with my daughter Sarah.  Drifted with cherry blossoms on the Tidal Basin in D.C.  Said “ahoy, matey!” to pirates at the Privateer Festival in Baltimore.  crisscrossed flowing streams & waterfalls at White Oak Canyon.  Stayed overnight at a sleep clinic to test for sleep apnea. Wandered through flowering trees at the Virginia Arboretum.  Was charmed by wisteria at Dumbarton Oaks.  Finally found spring, after a long and grueling winter, at Meadowlark Gardens.  Celebrated Sarah’s 30th birthday in Richmond by sipping wine with the whole family amidst Chihuly’s Red Reeds at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, topped off by a feast at Bacchus.  Cloistered myself at the Franciscan Monastery. Sampled wine and cheese with the family at Doukenie Winery.  Won prizes in photography competitions through Vienna Photographic Society and had my Hot air balloons over Cappadocia photo featured by National Geographic on Instagram.  Finished the third draft of my novel, Scattering Dreams of Stars, but never got around to sending out query letters.  Applied for 40 jobs stateside and didn’t get anything.  Applied for jobs in China and got an offer from Sino-Canadian International College of Guangxi University in Nanning.  Went on safari with sculptures of metal animals in the “American Metal” exhibit at the Corcoran in its last days.  Was awed by the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.  Opened my heart to water lilies at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.  Worked on joining hearts with Mike at Eastern Market in D.C. Saw “Words & Letters” made into art at the Athenaeum.  Felt general malaise at a Civil War Encampment at Sully Plantation. (nomad, interrupted).

Searched in vain for a happy 4th of July, as both my mother-in-law and my father were admitted to the hospital; my father’s problem was corrected without complications, but my 88-year-old mother-in-law’s health went into decline and she went into hospice care in early July.  Went with Alex on a road trip to New Hampshire, where we stayed in a cottage on Lake Winnipesaukee, seeking a reprieve from Shirley’s illness and our sadness.  Drove the Kancamagus Highway through New Hampshire’s White Mountains, topped by a hike at the Flume Gorge. Stopped to buy a bird nest ornament in a garden shop in charming Woodstock, Vermont, where I was mistaken for Alex’s girlfriend (ha!). Admired painted “meeses” and mountain lions in Bennington, and scrambled over rocks at Kaaterskill Falls in New York.  Returned home to watch helplessly as my mother-in-law continued to decline; she passed away on July 17.  Went in search of light-crazed sunflowers in memory of Shirley, who loved gardening.  Visited the George Washington Masonic National Memorial as we waited for Shirley’s memorial service, which was on Thursday, July 25.   Took our 12 1/2-year-old border collie, Bailey, to the vet when he got sick the day after Shirley’s memorial service; he died the next day, sadly, at the human age of 88.  Searched for summer, and solace, at Solomons, Maryland, where empty boats conversed in a language of their own, groaning, clanking, lamenting and whining.  Hiked at Calvert Cliffs State Park where a kid told me: “My dad says your name is Stranger.”  Dropped off my passport at the Chinese embassy to get my work visa, and while in D.C., stopped in unannounced at Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral for a brief tour in darkness. Came full circle and revisited summer at Meadowlark Gardens, as I did when I first arrived back in Virginia from Oman (nomad, interrupted).

Shirley and Bailey: both left us in July

Shirley and Bailey: both left us in July

Sampled rum & grapefruit juice with Mike at Mango’s upon our arrival in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Was coated like a sugar cookie by a maelstrom of sand at Ocean Park.  Savored every bite of mofongo — mashed plantains — at Raices in Old San Juan.  Had a close encounter with the Baño Nazi on Paseo de la Princessa.  Took a self-guided walking tour through colorful Old San Juan, admiring views of Bahia de San Juan along the periphery of El Morro.  Came face-to-face with an iguana at Castillo de San Cristobal and together we enjoyed views of the Atlantic.  Climbed into a cloud forest on the Mt. Britton Trail at El Yunque rain forest.  Ate fabulous Caribbean Benedicts at El Convento.  Sought shelter from the rain at Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico.  Visited the “ghost town” of Aguirre in the south of the island.  Was disappointed at Hacienda Buena Vista to see only the historical buildings and not any actual coffee plants.  Got roared at by painted lions at Ponce and took pictures of the historic firehouse and famous landmark, Parque de Bombas.  Looked in vain for 007 (“Bond, James Bond”) and Jodi Foster at the Arecibo Observatory, the setting for Goldeneye & Contact.  Enjoyed a day at the Ocean Park Beach and gorgeous sunset at El Morro before returning home to Washington. Continued to work with Mike on our reconciliation after our seven-year separation and felt good enough about it to go abroad again.  Spent the next two weeks getting ready to move to China.  Left the U.S. on August 30 (notes from north america).

Arrived in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on September 1 and was installed in a gritty apartment with a view over a lotus pond.  Spent the first couple of weeks in Nanning getting a phone, internet, a medical exam, and the visa.  Took a walk with another new teacher, Caleb, on Qing Xiu Shan in dreadful heat & humidity, where we saw koi in Sky Pond and a 1350-year-old Cycas King in the Cycad Garden.  Climbed to the top of Longing Tower where we saw views of Nanning and the Yongjiang River.  Encountered communication problems when haggling in a Chinese market.  Experienced the fringes of Typhoon Kalmaegi as it brushed past Nanning. Spent a frustrating day trying to figure out how to buy train tickets to Guilin.  Finally acquired a bicycle after much rigmarole and rode to Nanning Zoo, where I watched Chinese visitors feeding junk food to the animals.  Began fall semester on September 22.  Encountered students with funny English names: Maleah, Kitty, Yuki, Albert, Hebe, Lancy, Shally, Amber, Azura, Nyako, Spring, and best of all: Yoyo, Echo, Coco, Smoothies and Evita.  Heard tell of other teachers’ students: Biscuit, Yogurt and Potato.  Was flummoxed when trying to find simple household products such as shampoo, conditioner and floor cleaner at Nan Bai Supermarket.  Learned how to say Xièxiè (thank you), Ní hǎo (hello), and Wǒ yào yīgè daizi (I want one bag).

Overcame numerous communication problems and made it to Yangshuo for the National Holiday.  Took a motorized bamboo raft with hundreds of other Chinese tourists down the Li River to Xingping, the scene of the picture on China’s 20 yuan bill.  Strolled around Yangshuo and Green Lotus Hill, where I was surrounded by magical karst formations.  Met Audrey, the niece of an elementary school classmate of mine, at Demo Tiki Bar and then ate Thai food together, accompanied by lots of wine, at Rock-n-Grill.  Bicycled with Audrey through the Yangshuo countryside, where we took an almost-skinny-dip in the Yulong River.  Ate a late lunch at a Passion Fruit Leisure Farm.  Went on a motorbike tour through kumquat orchards to Xianggang Hill, where we saw karst formations with names like Nine Horse Fresco Hill, Lad Worships Goddess, and Grandpa Watching Apple.  Traipsed through the Seven Star Tea Plantation.  Took my own private bamboo boat ride down the Yulong River.  Returned to Nanning, where I began teaching an English Interest Course on Storytelling Photography.  Got hooked on Mad Men and watched all the seasons.  Walked through artistic trellises at the Guangxi Medicinal Plant Garden.  Encountered crazy communication problems on a trip to see Detian Waterfall on the Sino-Vietnamese border.  Straddled the border of China and Vietnam in a bamboo boat and was sprayed by the Ban Gioc-Detian Waterfall on my 59th birthday.  Received a cake for my birthday from the Student Union; I happily shared it with some of my colleagues, cherry tomato toppings and all.

Went to a student-teacher Halloween party on a sweltering night where everyone was sweating in their costumes.  Visited the Guangxi Museum of Nationalities, where I saw excellent exhibits on Guangxi’s twelve indigenous ethnic groups.  Ventured to Nanning People’s Park where hordes of Chinese people were dancing, singing, and playing traditional instruments. Watched all 8 episodes of True Detective and began to watch Breaking Bad.  Took a trip to Ping’An, where a Zhuang guide led me on a hike to see Nine Dragons and Five Tigers and a Yao long-haired woman.  Posed in traditional costume at Seven Stars with Moon.  Took a 5-hour hike alone to the Longji Rice Terraces, where I got lost numerous times.  Spent an afternoon of disillusionment at Elephant Hill Park in Guilin.  Treated myself to a whole body massage, a foot massage and pedicure in Guilin to try to alleviate my four days of sickness while traveling.

Encountered a styrofoam lady on the way to Wal-Mart.  Watched a Chinese love story with English subtitles, Fleet of Time, that shed some light on the lives of my college students. Watched all 10 episodes of Fargo Survived another challenging Chinese bus ride to Yangmei Ancient Village. Spent Christmas day alone wandering downtown Nanning, sipping a Toffee Nut Latte at Starbucks, watching The Taking of Tiger Mountain at Wanda Cinema, and finally Skyping with my family in Virginia.  Went to a Christmas party arranged by my students, where I attempted to make proper dumplings, played and won a REAL game of Chinese checkers, and sang karaoke.  Went to a free acrobatics show in Nanning.

Happy New Year!  May all your dreams come true in twenty-fifteen. 🙂

Related posts:
twenty-thirteen
weekly photo challenge: my 2012 in pictures

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yangmei ancient town ~ “town of prosperity”

Saturday, December 13:  Chinese bus journeys test my patience.  In order to get through them, I simply CANNOT allow myself to think about them in advance.  When I know I’m going to make a long bus trip, I have to think of the entire trip as simply putting one foot in front of the other.  I walk here. I jump on a bus. I sit. I get off the bus. I walk. I get on another bus. I sit on the bus. I get off the bus.  Finally, when it’s time to come home, I get back on the bus and repeat the whole thing in reverse.  But.  I can only allow myself to think of one small step at a time, otherwise I’ll freak myself out. I’ll never leave the university campus.

Today, I follow a map that one of my colleagues drew for me.  The map is to an off-the-beaten-path bus station which has buses directly to Yangmei Ancient Town. I know at exactly which bus stop I should get off, IF I’m on the #33 bus.  However, I’m not on the #33 bus, because at the bus stop in front of the university main gate, the #8 bus comes first and I know the #8 bus goes to Nanning Railway Station.  The aforementioned bus station is a short walk from the railway station, so I just need to get off the #8 close to the railway station.

The #8 bus stops directly at the railway station, but I make the wrong decision to stay on until the next stop, hoping it will be closer to the destined bus station.  Wrong.  I sit impatiently chomping at the bits as the bus drives a convoluted path AWAY from my destination and doesn’t stop again for quite a distance.  When I finally am able to get off, I have to find my way back to the railway station and then to the bus station. Not exactly an efficient use of my time.

I finally find the bus station at No. 198 Huaqiang Lu at about 9:45.  I’m told the bus leaves at 10:10 and costs 15 yuan.  I take a bathroom break (where one must squat in a doorless, waist-high cubicle into a trough with running water ~ absolutely disgusting!) and hop on the bus.

The TV screen at the front of the bus is playing a Chinese version of MTV.  I actually like it as the music is quite good and I love looking at the handsome and beautiful Chinese singers.  I think the bus trip won’t be so bad if this music is playing for the whole trip. But as always seems to be the case, the driver puts on some silly movie which has Chinese subtitles, as if the Chinese need subtitles in their own language!

The bus seems empty at first; I always foolishly get my hopes up that I’ll have two seats to myself, but at the last-minute people always come out of nowhere and hop on the bus, carrying all manner of packages, which they stuff into the overhead bins. Not only that, but once the bus gets underway, it makes about a thousand stops to pick up everybody who is standing along the road. Today, the lady on the bus who helps the driver by collecting money, etc., distributes a stack of plastic stools in the aisle for all the random people who we pick up along the way. I’ve never seen this on previous bus trips.

We drive in what seems like slow motion through Nanning. When we get outside the city, we lumber along at the slowest imaginable pace, following and eventually passing three-wheeled vehicles, tortoise-like trucks, motorbikes, and other buses on a potholed and dusty road.  The larger roads dwindle onto increasingly narrow and more derelict roads.  We bump and grind through what I later realize is the highlight of the trip, the green and neatly manicured farmland.

Yangmei Ancient Town is about 30 miles outside Nanning City Center, which should be a half-hour-drive under normal circumstances.  But of course nothing in China is normal, at least not to the Western way of thinking.  I’ve been told the bus ride is 1 1/2 hours, but I don’t want to believe it.  I continue to deceive myself until, exactly 1 1/2 hours later, we arrive at our destination.

I ask the bus driver what time the bus goes back to Nanning and she puts up four fingers.  It’s 11:40 now, and I hope that the town will be enough to keep my interest for over four hours. As I’m walking into town, I’m thinking that it neither looks all that ancient nor interesting.

Entering Yangmei Ancient Village

Entering Yangmei Ancient Village

Located in the lower reaches of the Zuojiang River, Yangmei Ancient Town is the town in Guangxi with the best preserved ancient architecture of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Founded in the Song Dynasty (970-1279) by four families, Luo, Liu, Lu and Lee, the ancient town of Yangmei was firstly named as Baihua (literally all sorts of flowers) Village because of the blooming flowers of all sorts. Later, due to the wars, people moved to the village from various regions. Covering 6.5 square kilometers, Yangmei Ancient Town reached its prime in the Qing Dynasty as an important collecting and distributing center within the area as well as a key port along Yong River. However, in the later days of the dynasty, it became quiet because of the decline of water transport in the region (Visit our China: Yangmei Ancient Town).

Surviving for hundreds of years, it has been reputed as a town of prosperity, hence the name “Yangmei.”

a little paved path off the main street

a little paved path off the main street

The first historical building I encounter is the Wu Die Tang Hotel.  According to a placard at the hotel (exact words): It was founded in the Jiaqing period of Qing dynasty with a history more than 200 years.  The hall is a traditional five gate house built with brick and tiles.  As the owner was honest and kind-hearted, keen of doing fermented soya beans, and his fermented soya beans was black and nice.  He also paid attention to his reputation and never gave short weight, so his business became more and more prosperous.  This is why Yangmei fermented soya beans become so famous all over the country.

The hall has been developed into a hotel.  Many poets and writers met in the hall to enjoy the lavish wine, dishes and appreciate to old building style and cultural charm.

After dropping in at the hotel, I head down Jinma Street toward the Ancient Gate and the Street of Delicacies.

Villager selling goods on Jinma Street

Villager selling goods on Jinma Street

I go through the Ancient Gate and down to the river, passing all these vendor stalls along the way.

Goods for sale near the Ancient Gate

Goods for sale near the Ancient Gate

The little crabs look like an interesting snack, and I would try them if I knew that they didn’t use recycled oil.  With all the stomach problems I have in China, I’m not willing to take a gamble on these.

Snack food

Snack food

I see some tourist boats docked along the shore.  Apparently there are a lot of rock features you can see on the boat ride, but to be honest, none of them seem interesting enough to warrant me spending the money.

Boats on the Yongjiang River

Boats on the Yongjiang River

Boats on the river

Boats on the river

From the river side, I can see the Ancient Gate. In retrospect, I think this is the most “ancient”-looking thing in the city.

The Ancient Gate

The Ancient Gate

Some of the houses and gardens are a little unkempt, but I’m surprised that all the walkways through the village are neatly swept.

Villager's garden

Villager’s garden

houses in the village

houses in the village

laundry will always find its place in the sun

laundry will always find its place in the sun

a peek into someone's yard

a peek into someone’s yard

roads through the village

roads through the village

There are big bowls of some fermented smelling vegetables, similar in looks and smell to Korean kimchi, which vendors are dishing out for Chinese tourists.  Jars of fermented looking foods sit on tables and shelves, enticing visitors.  I really have no idea what they are, but maybe they’re the fermented soya beans that Yangmei is famous for.

maybe these are the fermented soya?

maybe these are the fermented soya?

I can never resist taking pictures of the transport contraptions in China.  I’m endlessly fascinated by how people create just the right vehicle for their needs.

Three-wheeled contraption

Three-wheeled contraption

I find some corn and grains drying out in the scant sunlight.

drying vegetables and grains

drying vegetables and grains

As well as a pretty little bridge.  The lotus pond probably looks lovely in the spring.

Bridge over a pond

Bridge over a pond

I see this woman walking on the path, with a little gaggle of chickens following behind her.  After they all leave the path, I see a rat scamper furtively across the path.  This is the second rat I’ve seen in China this week.  Every time I see one, I freak out!

villager followed by chickens

villager followed by chickens

The ladies of the village set up shop easily with just a stool and some baskets.

Village women

Village women

I find another pretty gate with more of the large jars that are scattered throughout the village.

a gate along Jinma Street

a gate along Jinma Street

I walk into this building, the doors of which are wide open, but I realize when I step inside that it’s someone’s home.  Yikes!

I think this might be someone's house

I think this might be someone’s house

Again, I pass more shopkeepers with their baskets and stools.

vegetable market

vegetable market

Fruits for sale

Fruits for sale

At the south end of Jinma Street, I find the gate of Yangmei Ancient Town.  This gate doesn’t look as ancient as the one at the north end.

The Gate of Yangmei Ancient Town

The Gate of Yangmei Ancient Town

There’s some farmland at this end of the town.

Farmland in the village

Farmland in the village

And of course, commerce as usual.

commerce, as always

commerce, as always

These little carts seem lost and forlorn without tourists in them.  I do pass one woman pulling such a cart filled with children and adults.  The children all yell out “Hello!” to me when they pass by.

vehicles resting

vehicles resting

I like the roof tiles on the old buildings, and the corn stalks leaning against the weathered brick.

old buildings

old buildings

grasses

grasses

As I walk through the town, I’m becoming increasingly disappointed.  As a photographer, I’m looking for interesting things to photograph.  But the light is so bad, and the houses so drab and gray or brown, I start to feel a little depressed.  I try to think what it is about China that makes my interest in photography wane.  And I’ve decided there are three things.  One is the light.  The skies are almost always hazy and overcast; even on a sunny day, there is a gray haze in the air.  I can’t help but think about the amazing light I’ve encountered in my travels, especially in Oman, Jordan, Greece, Spain and Portugal; even in Korea the light was generally good.

The second thing I dislike is the general unkemptness.  There seems to always be some kind of construction going on, and construction debris is always scattered about in alleyways and on sidewalks and roadsides.

old buildings

old buildings

The third thing is something that comes to mind from an essay I read with my students this week.  In the essay, “The Struggle to Be an All-American Girl,” Elizabeth Wong tells of her painful experiences growing up in the bicultural atmosphere of Los Angeles’ Chinatown.  At one point, she describes her Chinese grandmother, who is an embarrassment to her: “Her humor was raunchy, her Chinese rhythmless, patternless. It was quick, it was loud, it was unbeautiful.  It was not like the quiet, lilting romance of French or the gentle refinement of the American South.  Chinese sounded pedestrian.  Public.”

there's always some kind of construction going on

there’s always some kind of construction going on

The other day, I was talking with a colleague of mine from London.  Though he’s been in China for many years, and will probably continue to stay for at least several more, he says what he misses most here in China is a certain sense of refinement.  Much like Elizabeth Wong’s description of her grandmother’s Chinese, I find too that China lacks a sense of refinement.  The architecture is sturdy and functional, but “unbeautiful.”  It’s not the decay or the peeling paint that is bothersome, because I find such decay charming in European cities.  For example, buildings in Portugal often have peeling paint or chunks of concrete gouged out of their walls, but because of their beautiful Spanish architecture, and the old tiles that are on facades, the decay becomes charming.  Here the decay is on charmless buildings, so the decay is not beautiful.

village children

village children

I hope I can come to appreciate what China is, as it has much that is fabulous, especially its natural landscapes and its generally kind people.

old homes

old homes

jars for fermenting?

jars for fermenting?

peeking through another doorway

peeking through another doorway

pond

pond

I’m walking down a street called Yong’an Street and I’ve bought a tourist map, and I am looking for the Temple of Confucius.  I see this building below and I think it must be the Temple.  The door is open and no one is inside.  I step inside and take some pictures. I walk out on the landing, and when I see a cart being pulled by an ox (or is it a water buffalo?), I step back into the “temple” and snap a picture out the doorway.

beast of burden stride-by

beast of burden stride-by

Later I see a group of ladies sitting around on stools chattering away.  I point to the Confucius Temple on the map.  They point me in the opposite direction to the house I just entered, and I realize I have just walked into someone’s house!  Oh dear.  When I return down this street later, after having found the real Temple of Confucius, I see the doors are closed, probably to keep out foolish tourist intruders!

village homes and pond

village homes and pond

jars and tropical vegetation in the village

jars and tropical vegetation in the village

I finally find the Temple of Confucius.  The lighting inside is horrible, and I find it difficult to get any decent photos.  A man says something to me in Chinese.  I wonder if maybe he’s telling me to give him some money, but he doesn’t insist and I don’t understand, so I continue on my way.

Leaving the Temple of Confucius, I head toward the river and find this beautiful gate.  It’s strange because there are huge red stones scattered about and the gate isn’t even over the road.  There is obviously some huge construction project going on here, but I have no idea what it is.

Multi-layered gate

Multi-layered gate

gate surrounded by reddish stones

gate surrounded by reddish stones

Finally, I come across this little shrine beside the river.

Little shrine near the river

Little shrine near the river

And more jars scattered about inside gateways and beside ponds.

another doorway

another doorway

more jars and pond

more jars and pond

By this time it’s about 1:20 and I’ve had enough.  I’m ready to go back to Nanning, but the bus driver told me the bus wouldn’t return until 4:00.  I feel a sense of desperation that I’ll be stuck here for two and a half more hours.  I do remember reading somewhere that buses return to Nanning at 2:00 and 4:00, so I head back to the bus station in hopes that the information I read is correct.  I find a Chinese man who speaks some English and he tells me the bus will leave between 1:30 and 2:00.  I settle in to wait, determined not to let the bus leave without me.

I finally get on the bus and the same process is repeated, with people appearing out of nowhere to get on at the last-minute, with multiple stops along the way to pick up people along the road, with stools placed in the aisles.  At some point, a Chinese man with a disfiguring birthmark on his face plops down beside me.  He keeps staring at me, so I just turn to look out the window.  I enjoy looking at the beautiful farmland anyway.  At one point, the man reaches over my head and angrily yanks the curtain over the window.  I glare at him and point out the window, telling him that “Pardon me! I’m looking out the window!”  I find his attitude so selfish, especially as he doesn’t occupy the window seat, so that should be my decision.  As he can see I’m upset, he starts speaking in Chinese.  Of course I don’t understand.  However, I can tell by his tone that he’s trying to be conciliatory.  I think he tells me I can open the curtain if I like; but I don’t do it.  I just peek out the curtain.  He then pulls out his wallet and shows me his ID card and a November train ticket from another town to Nanning.  I think he’s trying to make up for his rudeness, and so I become friendly in return to him, although we can’t understand anything the other says.

Finally, I make it make to Nanning, where I forgo the buses and take a taxi back to the campus.  This is one of the shorter trips, near Nanning, that I have on my list.  I probably won’t have time to see much else before I get my holiday toward the end of January, although there may be a few more short outings I can do.

Categories: China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Travel, Yangmei Ancient Town | Tags: , , , , , , | 24 Comments

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Traveling & Blogging Near and Far

PIRAN CAFÉ

Notebooks from a trampfest. Travel tips, tales and images, online since 2006.

Word Wabbit

Wrestless Word Wrestler

Cardinal Guzman

Encyclopedia Miscellaneous - 'quality' blogging since August 2011

A Faraway Home

Stories and tips from home and far away

Pit's Fritztown News

A German Expat's Life in Fredericksburg/Texas

Under a Cornish Sky

inspired by the colours of the land, sea and sky of Cornwall

sloveniangirlabroad.wordpress.com/

A blog about expat life and travel adventures written by an Slovenian girl living in Switzerland

Let Me Bite That

Can I have a bite?

Running Stories by Jerry Lewis

Personal blog about running adventures

Finding NYC

exploring New York City one adventure at a time

The World according to Dina

Notes on Seeing, Reading & Writing, Living & Loving in The North

snippetsandsnaps

Potato Point and beyond

Storyshucker

A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.

The Eye of a Thieving Magpie

My birdseye view of this crazy life - in words and pictures

renatemarie.wordpress.com/

A (Mostly) Solo Female Exploring the World

NYLON DAZE

From London to New York, living in an expat daze

Blue Hour Photo Workshops

Photography is a constant travel to new places

Travel Much?

Never cease to explore and tell!

Insanity at its best!

Yousuf Bawany's Blog

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