Saturday, April 5, 2008

A Day in Guizhou, part 1

(The font on this post might be a little funky, since I'm in an Internet bar in Guizhou province. I think my font problems just add to the flavor of blogging from China, though.)

Alex and I are on the last day of our trip to Guiyang, but I have to interrupt our fun to blog about our day yesterday.

We woke up in Guiyang at around 10, since we were tired from the night before. There's nothing to do in Guiyang itself, but a few hours away is Anshun, a town that has a famous waterfall and cave system nearby, so we decided to see those during the day.

We didn't realize that it was a Chinese national holiday and that everyone and their nai-nai were trying to travel. Alex and I got to the bus station (which was a task in itself, but I'm compacting the story) and there were swarms of people. Buses leave to Anshun every 20 minutes, but from how many people were in line you would think a bus left every 20 seconds. Alex and I split up. I did it the American way standing at the back of the line, he did it the Chinese way standing at the front. Half an hour later I had moved ten feet forward and he had tickets for us.

We rode a few hours to Anshun, and as soon as we got off the bus a guy starting persistently asking us if we wanted to go to the waterfall and caves, because he would take us. We did want to go to the waterfall and caves, and couldn't think why we shouldn't let him take us, so we agreed. He said that somehow we wouldn't have to pay the entrance fee, which sounded good to us. He drove at 140 km/h to the waterfall, which felt nice compared to the slow bus. Soon we pulled up to a house, where he led us up a few flights of stairs to his own backyard view of the waterfall. We had to admit that it was a great view, and that saving 80 kuai on the entrance fee was worth it. It was really beautiful and once I get back to Chengdu I'll upload some pictures.

Next he drove us to the caves and said that if we couldn't find a ride back, we could call him and he would come pick us up. We got talked into a guide, explored the caves, and then when we were done it was about 7:00 and we needed a way home. I hadn't eaten since breakfast, so we paid an exorbinant rate for an attendant's bowl of rice. I called the guy who said his friend would come pick us up, we tried to communicate where we were, and then we started waiting.

After I finished the rice, we wanted to move up to the parking lot nearby, but the guy who gave me the rice kept telling us that we shouldn't. We couldn't understand why not, though, so we moved to the parking lot which was right by the road.

It was dark and a little cold, and soon after we came we saw headlights that headed right toward us. They kept coming, slowly, slowly toward us, and we couldn't see what the lights belonged to, so we kept backing up and wished we had listened to the guy's advice not to come up here. But then the truck stopped, and it turned out that it was just a trash truck having engine problems.
We laughed it off, the guys got out to fix the engine, and then as the truck left I saw that one of the tires had a huge lump. We were just wondering about the lump when the tire exploded and the car started rolling down into the side of the mountain.

Before we could figure out what that was all about, five or six pre-teen locals came by. They were intrigued by the foreigners and tried to chat with us for a while, which was difficult because their local accent made it difficult for us to understand them, and our horrible Chinese made it difficult for them to understand us. They laughed in between everything that was said, so that slowed the pace of the conversation, too.

By this time we had been waiting 20 minutes longer than the guy told us we would have to, and started to think maybe we should confirm that he really was coming. I called him and had a frustrating time. I kept telling him that the guy wasn't there, he kept telling me that he had arrived, but when I said that he wasn't there he thought I hadn't understood, and repeated in r-e-a-l-l-y slow Chinese that the guy was in fact there. I finally managed to explain where we currently were and we hung up.

Then a group of adults walked by who the kids didn't know. I thought it was so weird that anyone was there because all there was in the area was the entrance to the caves and a vacant hotel. The trash guys were still fixing the truck in the background.

Then the guy found us around 8:00 and we were picked up, on our way back to Anshun.

But our night wasn't even halfway over.


mom said...

Y'know, reading about your adventures is so humorous and I congratulate you on doing so many things. But I'm glad that I'm not traveling with you! Your sense of adventure and excitement is higher than mine; so I'm happy to go make a cup of tea and sit in my cozy house and reread your blog.

Mel said...

what a cliff hanger.