New experiences and some shocking discoveries! HSBC and theft.
18.01.2012 - 20.01.2012 8 °C
We were heading for a long journey leaving the mountains so decided that we would stay an extra night in Chengdu so we would be ready for the flight to Guilin with an overnight stop and proceed with a bus to Yingshuo. We didn't know very much about Guilin or Yingshuo so we were wondering what it was going to be like, mainly wondering about the food and the temperature. Being in the cold for such a long time really gets to you, now don't be thinking "cold...it's bloody freezing in uk" but you can switch on your heating! In China where we have stayed in the hostels there is no heating most of the time and somedays you could go out wearing anything under your coat because it won't come off so no one would know. That was a random though maybe I should thing of other comparisons!!! You obviously would need something on under your coat!
We had a good night in the Lazybones hostel and they actually had heating and good food, I was a bit annoyed we hadn't stayed here before but instead we had to put up with the obnoxious idiot who was marking his territory in the room. Anyway enought about the old place this one was good and we met a few Tazmanian guys and a classic old English gent called Oliver who had moved to China donkeys years ago to teach. There was an Irish girl to who had never had an irishi coffee and when Oliver found this out he insisted we all have one. Very kind of him but also very clever you see Oliver really liked his whiskey, he had already polished off two small bottles when we started to talk to him and was on his third. The bar had closed and he was itching to get another drink so the Irish coffee was an easy solution. Oliver was very interesting to talk to and full of facts, he stays in hostels every now and then just to stay in touch with Westerners as he now lives in a remote location.
We took our last chance to have a look around Chengdu and Chloe researched about the old town so we decided to look there. Wow! Lots of old temple style buildings used as shops/restaurants, we went into one and it was completely empty and looking at the price list I can see why! We came across two men with massive wooden hammers banging away on a tree stump. There was a crowd around them and they were hitting a mixture of sugar, peanuts and syrup.....yes peanut brittle! It was pretty cool to see how it was made in the good old days, no gloves or hair nets just plain old brute force on a wooden stump and yes we bought enough to rot our teeth!
The flight was suprisingly ok no one kicking my seat! We had a real short stop overnight in Guilin so can not make any comments about the town as we didn't see it. We got a bus to Yingshuo and again the Chinese hospitality shone through where we were charged 3 x more than the locals. As the bus got closer to Yingshuo the scenery completely changed now there were large rocks, like mountains, jutting out of the ground and it reminded me of Halong Bay. I was really impressed and so glad that we had come to this beautiful place. Our hostel was near to the river and one day we decided to go on an our boat trip, unfortunately the weather there wasn't too good so trecking was an no no. The boat looked like five long drainpipes tied together with some supped up wooden structures on top and a motor but it worked! Off we went with the driver/captain pointing out various mountains but we didn't have a clue what he was saying. Typically we picked the tour where they stop off to get you to buy something from a shop and this time the shop happened to be a little beach on the other side of the river. I saw a really old guy and thought "I know him". But how could I? Then I caught sight of some large black water birds, can't remember their prope names but you'll know what I mean in a minute. This guy was about 120 and was drunk, there was a sign asking for something like the equiveilant of 50p for a photo of him....turns put he is the guy from the HSBC advert with the birds that get the fish for him at nighttime. So we paid our 50p and stood next to him asking a group of Chinese teenagers if they would take a photo with our camera. You would think we had asked them to do the can can...they frowned and looked at each other one muttered something and left leaving just one girl who took the photo....a blurry one at that but at least we have one. I retuned to the boat being cussed by the captain for taking too long.....whoops!
Later that day we were sat in the hostel and heard a terrible noise..."what's that?" I said quite loudly and a girl sat near casually said "oh that's probably a cat being killed". What? So after asking a few questions it appears, and I can't believe I didn't know all through China, that they still eat cats and dogs there! This really shocked me because there are people there with them as pets and they appear to be well looked after. There is also donkey and snake on the menu. I was told to avoid the market if this upset me as there ar cages of cats and dogs waiting to be sold for meat. I still couldn't quite believe it but I didn't want to see for myself. As we walked round the town avoiding the market we saw a guy laughing with a woman and at his feet were two large ducks with their feet tied together and their head lopped onto the floor, they were still alive but not quite dead, something which is done to keep "the meat" fresh. It honestly made me feels sick and also very glad that we are vegetarian. I've never forced my veggie status onto people...except you Chloe, but seriously this makes you think.
I looked up about the reasons why they still eat cats and dogs and it appears there has been a push to stop this....hooray! However, as politics are everywhere there is a divide, one half want it stopped and the other say it's tradition that needs to remain. There was an article in the mail a few years back about an 80 odd year old Chinese retired doctor who had rescued 250 cats from the streets of Beijing after the government had told people that cats carry SARS so people were throwing them out onto the streets ready for them to be collected and killed! But the plot behind it was to clean up the streets for the Olympics. That's what it says in the mail anyway.....
I had had enough of China now and was soo looking forward to going to Hong Kong where I had booked a rather nice hotel for Chinese new year for us both. Thank goodness I did because I never would have expected what happened next!
We had about a two hour bus ride back to Guilin which straight away came across to me as dodgy but we got on, got charged 4x as much as locals and off we went. Chloe had her bag on the floor between her feet throughout the journey and the long and short of it is that the bloke sat ink front leant under his seat cut into her bag and nicked our iPad. Gutted! He got off before we did so it was too late to do anything about it. We reported it to the police straight away which is difficult when they don't speak English and you don't speak Chinese! I'm hoping the insurance will pay out but I'm not holding out much for it. Tip...don't go on buses that do stops between your destination. Don't leave your bags by your feet.
We got onto our train very glad to be leaving China, loved the scenery but found the people we came across very cold and it was quite a depressing experience. I will say though we do not class all Chinese people like this so please anyone wishing to pick holes it's not the point we are making. We did of course meet some really nice people but when we needed help, assistance or information....no chance....its a battle to even get someone to give a try at helping, instantly we found they shook their head and turned us away even if we had the question in Cantonese.