Well, we are not really learning Chinese but we are trying to learn the Chinese way and how to operate here considering that we are severely handicapped by not being able to read the Chinese characters (or speak it!). Luckily we have found most people extremely friendly and happy to answer our Ni Hao (hello) even if we have to continue in ‘charades’ from there.
Leaving Hanoi on a night train I had a slightly surreal moment when we walked into the waiting room and saw somebody I knew. John and Michelle who own Hotel DeBrett (by far the nicest hotel in Auckland!) had also travelled through Cambodia and Vietnam and John was now taking the same train as us to China. What’s the chance of that?
We got off the train in Nanning, the first major city across the Chinese border. It’s a big city of 6.5mill people but not very touristy and we had trouble finding our hotel as street signs are only in Chinese and the hotel name, in English, wasn’t really visible from the street. Walking around town, people are obviously not very used to Westerners as they would stare and often say hello. One guy laughingly came over to tell Nick what a big nose he has! Armed with our phrase book we had to get a few things in a pharmacy and again were met with lots of smiles.
We decided to make our way to Shanghai through a few more traditional and picturesque towns and headed 3 hours NE to Guilin where we would spend a few days in the general area.
Next stop was Guilin, a much smaller and much more touristed town although by far most tourists are Chinese.
We started getting into the food which is quite a change from Vietnam and also very different to the Chinese food we get in Australia and Europe as that’s mainly Cantonese-style cuisine.
Nick bought a t-shirt from the market which reads ‘I have no money – please don’t follow me’. We thought it was aimed at the street vendors, similar to the t-shirt you can buy in Cambodia which reads ‘No tuk tuk today – or tomorrow’. We’ve later been told it says ‘Please don’t follow me, if you don’t have any money’. Either way it attracts a few laughs.
What is amusing is that Nick is the only one with Chinese writing on his t-shirt. Everybody else wears t-shirts with English slogans such as ‘Buy me Chocolate’,’Hold me tight’, ‘Life is Cool’ and the rather mysterious ‘Bowler hat is dope, just like bowler’.
Guilin is the starting point for visiting Yangshuo and that’s where we were off to next…
TOP OF PAGE