Sunday, June 15, 2008

China Day 16: In Which We Head South

After lunch, they rolled us back to the bus and headed off to the airport to fly to Guilin. About a mile out, for some inexplicable reason the bus driver pulled over, walked around the bus (to kick the tires? what?) and got back in. Whether due to this unscheduled pause or not, when we got to the airport we were a little pressed for time. We scurried into the airport (or wheezed and staggered in the case of the pack mules), dumped our water bottles at a run and crashed to a halt at the back of a loooong security line.

I had a nice little conversation with the Chinese fellow behind me in line, who was heading to Guilin on business, and who wanted to try out his English. He asked me if I was married, and I said no. He then asked, "Why not?" and I replied, "Men are stupid!" The joke made it through the translation OK.

We made it through security, barreled down to the gate, crammed onto the shuttle bus and went directly out to the plane, which was a different airline than the one issuing our tickets, so I suspect our original plane wasn't full and they saved some money by putting us on someone else's plane. Because of the last-minute quality of all this we were spread out all over the plane, which we shared with a large tour group from Israel. Dad was seated next to an Israeli guy and got invited to stay with him if he ever visits there!

We landed in Guilin, in Guangxi Province, and were amused by the aluminum palm trees out front of the airport:
We drove into town in the monsoon rains - Guangxi borders on Vietnam and its climate is tropical. A funny thing happened on the bus. Tomorrow we will be having a Western-style dinner with three choices of entree: beef, chicken or fish. Fred announced the choices - some hilarity arose over his pronunciation of the word "haddock" - I heard "headache" while some of the others thought he was saying "duck" - and asked for a show of hands to see how many of what we would need. How many fish? Seven. How many tenderloin? A forest of hands shot up, and he said there were too many to count! It was easier to count off the few who wanted chicken and give the rest of us beef.

After we got checked into our hotel, we collapsed for a little bit; for once there were no plans for the rest of the day.
We'd had so much to eat at lunchtime that we were initially delighted there was no dinner planned for us tonight, but about eight o clock we got a little hungry and went down to the hotel restaurant. The only diners in the place were four little tables of people from our group. We've been thrown together for days on end, so what do we do when we have the opportunity to choose? Cluster!

Dad and I reveled in Occidental cookery: tuna sandwiches, fries and a Coke with ice!

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