A Travellerspoint blog

February 2006

Winter Break Is At An End

  • There will be no photos posted for this entry

Thursday, 16th February 2006

It was 4:25am and we were woken by the train staff. Hey that gives us five minutes to wake and do what we need. Usually they wake you about thirty minutes prior to arrival. The train had made up the two minutes over night and we arrived on time in Baise. Good job mate, can't say I would have been happy if I arrived at 4:27am. I would have had a few words to say to the driver like...mate, why can't you be as late as trains in Australia. It is 4:25am, nothings open and we are in Baise. At least in Australia they have the common sense to be several hours late! We grabbed a cab to the unopened bus station and sat in the filthy little noodle house next door. It's only occupants were chain smoking taxi drivers awaiting the city to begin its day. Several of them actually drinking beer, yes at nearing 5am! Some sleeper buses stopped and we found one that was heading to Nanning. We boarded and my winter holiday was completed as I said my good byes to Judy and stepped foot on Tianyang soil at 7:25am.

The morning was warm and I was happy that I was still in shorts and a tee shirt. I said my happy hellos to the schools gate guard who I'm sure was thinking, 'Oh no he's back. Now he'll wake me at 2 or 3 am every morning! AGAIN'.

I dumped my bag and sat for a coffee whilst smoking cigarettes and looking out my kitchen window. My little town was waking up around me whilst I sat dozing in the chair. I made my way to my bed leaving thick dirty footprints on the floor. I was so hungry and tired. Tiredness won and I woke at mid day.

I spent the next few hours moping and cleaning. I couldn't believe the dust that had settled even with the shades drawn. To touch anything dirt would be left all over your hand and walking left filthy footprints everywhere. Finally I finished and made my way outdoors to greet the day. I walked for an hour and then headed to the market place. Here I received a huge warm welcome and was greeted with free fruit and happy smiles. I sat for won ton soup and went about my rounds purchasing fruit and supplies for the next few days.

I passed the afternoon sorting through emails and photos and headed across to the have dinner with my Market Place friends at 8:30. There we sat until 2:30am this morning looking at my map of the Xishuangbanna, taking photos and me deciding I was going home after the very next beer. Then it came, 'E Ping Peejio (1 bottle of beer)?'. Yeah, sure mate, then I'll head off. The night was beautiful and people dropped in to say 'hello' and pour a beer for me before leaving. One guy poured 3 glasses full of beer, drank them all and then stumbled away saying, 'hello, my name is peejio (beer), my name is peejio. Hello my name is peejio!' Good on him I thought. I'd rather he have them than me at 2:00am.

Once again began my routine of waking the poor guard man at the school gate at some ungodly hour before climbing the stairs and shutting out the world behind me. My winter adventure had ended.

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

The Night Train To Guangxi

  • There will be no photos posted for this entry

Wednesday, 15th February 2006

Sometime in the morning we pulled into the eatery we had stopped in on the way to Jinghong. No one at all ventured near the stalls. Yep, another happy bus trip. We made it to Kunming at mid day. Everyone happily yet shakenly collected their luggage and left the bus station in search of any offered comfort. My body needed coffee. It needed a lot of coffee! We slowly left the bus station with our brains still bouncing around inside our bruised heads. We decided to get coffee at Dicos at the station and then try for tickets and then head to the Camellia Hotel for a shower. News reports from previous days had left us with bad feelings in regards to tickets. The closure of Spring Festival and 18 million students returning to their university campuses, oh oh! Yikes!

We passed families whom it looked had slept where they sat for days. Hundreds of them filled the area in front of the station. They lay on cardboard boxes and blankets making a temporary shanty town. As we passed the huge ticket office we found ourselves drawn in by the overwhelming ness of it all. It was mostly civilised with only a small amount of people trying to push in and walk straight to the counter to get served. This time and for the first time I had ever witnessed, they were told to 'go away' by the ladies behind the glass. Thirty minutes later we left the station with tickets onboard the 7:03pm train that night. I was expecting to wait half the day in line.

After a shower and a change of clothes we headed into the city for the day. At 6:00pm we gathered our belongings and took a cab to the station. The train left 2 minutes late. Now that's worth writing home about. Spring Festival is taking its toll on the rail system in China. We were of course in hard sleeper and in one of the newer carriages. If you find yourself in China try and get an old carriage. The new ones have no windows that open and the temperature is set at what I'm sure 150 degrees. This along with no airflow made for a second sleepless night.

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Yippee, It's The Disco Sleeper Bus

  • There will be no photos posted for this entry.

Tuesday, 14th February 2006

Woke feeling much better and after eating a happy breakfast of Mei Mei's Special Breakfast we headed to the bus station to unwillingly purchase our tickets to Kunming. Gee, can't wait to get on that bus! We spent the day walking the back streets and finding little market places we hadn't discovered on our past walks. We had our final dinner at The Mekong Café and said our sad farewells to the happiest, friendliest and most beautiful staff I have ever come across. I thought a small dinner of eggs on toast would be best for the long road ahead. Boy was I hungry several hours later.

We boarded the 'Smelly Disco Sleeper Bus' at 9:30pm. The moon was full and made a beautiful reflection on the Mekong River as we left town via the 'old' bridge. I was very sad to leave Jinghong. The Xishuangbanna is my most favourite place on earth. It's so full of colour, charm, relaxation and beautiful food. Days easily pass by if allowed leaving you wondering how when yesterday was Monday how could today be Sunday! The first hour was fine. Plastic bags could be heard rustling in readiness for the hours to come. We spent nearly an hour at the customs checkpoint and finally two officers came on board and checked everyone's ID Cards before allowing us to continue.

The entire time we were stopped and everyone was trying to sleep, one guy sat on his mobile phone laughing, spitting out the window and hooting as loud as he could. No one said a word, I tried yelling 'get off the phone' several times but offcourse he didn't understand English and never looked my way so I could stab him with my death glare. Finally he shut up and allowed me to experience the quietest moments on board a Chinese Sleeper Bus I have ever experienced. It can happen, it can happen. There was no hocking, spitting, phones, mp3's, talking, yelling or heaving! Even the smoke sat lifeless!

Finally the bus started its engine and ALL the latter began. Bags were filled and thrown out the window, phones rang, dust and smoke filled the air and the gear box continually took a beating as the driver crunched his way towards Kunming. About 4 hours from Kunming the driver finally stopped to have the gears checked. By now the bus had to be switched off to get it into first and the noise made to get it into fourth was almost deafening. I'd rather hear nails being scrapped down a blackboard. The toilets at this stop would have to be added to my list of favourites in China. Two holes in a concrete floor. Pretty smart for a well used truck and bus stop. I winked and smiled at the 90 something year old man who squatted next to me as we went about our business.

Oh China, it fills your heart & nostrils with it's warmth at every given moment!

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Lantern Festival N Spring Festival Closes

  • There will be no photos posted for this entry. My LAST REMAINING memory card was full and I was not taking it anywhere near a photo shop! Apologies to you all.

Monday, 13th February 2006

Today in China is the Spring Festival Closure. A festival known as The Lantern Festival is held. People do all kinds of wonderful things like make little boats and sail them down a river whilst a flame flickers within. The strangest one and the most spectacular is the making of lanterns that are released into the skies and piloted by a candle. This strange act causes untold property damage each year. People must sit and wonder 'gee, how and why did my house burn down'. The very act of throwing fire crackers during the entire Spring Festival causes so many hospital visits by children and the unsuspected person whom innocently walks on by.

Facial burns, blindness and body burns are all suffered by the Chinese during this period. It's no wonder when an older child throws a cracker and a toddler runs over to pick it up....BANG and everyone jumps up and down in fits of laughter. Oh, so close! Sometimes the littlen even manages to pick it up and throw it again which also makes everyone jump up and down in fits of laughter. Five years ago when I was in Jinghong, the Polish couple I was with and I were eating and drinking in the 'old' Mei Mei's Café and the kids would run past and throw crackers in through the window at us. Now that was a fun time! NOT! But all in all, Spring Festival is a fantastic and fun time for all. To actually now have spent three of them in China and survived with all limbs and eyes intact is a major feat and worthy of many a beer!

Anyhow I woke feeling much better than yesterday but decided to spend most of the day in bed. The day before was so much fun that I decided to stay awhile for a repeat performance. Later I met Judy at Mei Mei's and I tried a gentle breakfast of French toast and ginger tea. The poor girl who takes our order each morning was in a fluster and made me repeat it several times before she wrote it down...No Mei Mei's Special Breakfast? Are you sure? The special breakfast at Mei Mei's Café is the greatest breakfast ever. It's an omelette filled with beacon, potato, tomato and onion. It's worth the fourteen hour freaky bus ride from Kunming just to try it and then take the next bus back to Kunming.

The afternoon was spent within running distance from the hotel room. The girls at the front desk I'm sure were amused at my frequent return visits and I'm sure gathered like a group of school girls saying,

'Ha Ha, I told you filling the water bottle from the tap would add something special to our normal day of sitting and staring blankly at the television screen. Now we get to stand up and smile each time he returns and then giggle our butts off as he runs up the stairs!'

Judy's internal workings had also began playing hopscotch so over dinner we decided it was time to head back to Guangxi. We discussed what we had both consumed over the past few days. We came up with two things. It wasn't the BBQ meat but may have been the water for the tea. They had run out of hot water and the Chinese were all screaming 'We are Chinese; we MUST have green tea within arms reach. Hurry Up!' They may not have allowed the water to boil for long enough OR Two. The hotel really had filled the water bottle from the tap. This is my guess after speaking to the owners of the Dai Guesthouse across the road. To save money it's very common for hotels to fill the large water bottles for the water machines with tap water. Lesson learnt so buy your own no matter what is offered in your hotel room.

I decided on another early and beer less night to help my internal workings sort themselves out. For hours I lay as crackers exploded outside and adults ran up and down the concrete stairs yelling and laughing. ARGH! Around 12:30am I headed across to the Dai Guesthouse for a chat with friends. The girls at the counter all smiled their beautiful yet I'm sure guilty smiles as I left the building. We sat talking about water and hotels whilst my friends continued to try and throw as much rice wine down my throat as possible. It's like medicine to them; it'll fix almost everything, just like Tiger Balm to the Vietnamese. Oh no, you lost your head out the bus window and you want it back, here have some rice wine or tiger balm, you'll be fixed up in no time. But sadly it couldn't fix my Memory Stick!

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Sick As A Freakin Dog Mate

Photos: for those whom are either of a sicker mind than I or are actually just very strange, there will be no photos posted for this entry

Saturday, 11th February 2006

I woke this morning and was lucky enough to hear the soft sound of rain on the window. Yes, now I don't have to ride to Ganlanba with Donna the Scot. Not that I didn't want to spend the day with her antics but the fact was I felt like complete sh*t. I dragged my sorry butt out of bed around mid day and met up with one of the Germans from last night and Judy for breakfast. He was feeling pretty much like I. So far today I haven't done much. A short walk around the back lanes and alleyways and now some internet time. What a waste of a day and pleasant feelings. My head is hazy and my stomach is feeling bloated and horrible. Hangovers really suck big time. I may stay out late most nights but I stretch my beer to fit the time. Last night was a heap of fun but like all hangovers...that was then, this is now!

Written many days latter: The afternoon came and went I continued to feel worse. I met up with Judy and Donna for a wonderful dinner on the side of the Mekong River at the BBQ area. We chatted and Donna continued her stories with the help of her crazy accent, facial expressions and body language. She really is an incredible person to watch whilst in mid story. Whilst I was dying in bed this morning Judy and Donna were having breakfast with a couple of young Aussies at Mei Mei's. One of them was so taken by her 'ways' that he began to speak to her through Judy as she seemed to scare him a little. After BBQ we continued our stories at Mei Mei's. The girls left and I stayed for a beer or two whilst burying my head in a good book

Sunday, 12th February 2006

This is a day I shall not forget for a long time. The act of opening my eyes to welcome the new day found me jumping out of bed and running to the bathroom. Gee, I didn't need that delicious BBQ dinner from last night. I mean it was nice and all but hey, it looks so much better all over the bathroom floor.

Without going into detail, the day was spent running to and from bed performing all kinds of dangerous stunts in and around the Chinese squat toilet. In comparison, driving the western porcelain bus is a much easier feat! Somehow after the sun had said good bye to our part of the world and the children began their nightly activity of throwing fire crackers at each other I managed to shower and head to The Mekong Café for a ginger and honey tea to try and settle the stomach. Soon after I was playing an encore to the day's performance.

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)