Musings - Day 22
Day 22 – 17th January 2020
Thanks everybody for the messages and to the recent donations - Brilliant!
I had the worst nights sleep, since I started this trip. It was colder than an igloos door knob (I know they probably don’t have them – but hey it was cold!) I had on trackie bottoms, thick socks, thick jumper, gloves and a woolly hat, duvet, and I still couldn’t get warm. It was sub zero temperatures last night but the room actually felt like it hadn’t been slept in for ages. The wallpaper was peeling in some places where the mould had started to run up the wall. To top it all there was no hot water, so this morning just saw a quick swill before the early morning start. I was due to be catching a bus, but the hotel manager and owner kindly rearranged his visit to his mother. (who lived in the next place I was headed for) It was free gratis. The bus fare wasn’t much but the journey by car would be a lot quicker, and far more comfortable. His name is Lu Yung, but he was happy (or seemed it) for me to call him Leon.
This just came about after a casual conversation with him when I came in last night. He took great pride in telling me that he had been to Poland, but I couldn’t get out of him what for? You wouldn’t go six thousand miles for a weekender would you? Anyway he was there in a fairly new Nissan this morning as arranged. The first part of the journey for us both was fairly quiet, with me hardly being able to keep awake. But after an hour or so he stopped, and shared his thermos flask of green tea with me. It was just the livener I needed. He talked of his fathers death, and him buying the hotel using the inheritance. His mom sounded an interesting lady as well, being arrested many years ago for protesting. Which is a big thing in China. The protest from mainly students were calling for a free press and free speech in June 1989. They were stopped in Beijing by what is commonly known as “The Tiananmen Square Massacre” when the troops went in ordered by the Chinese government. There was never an agreed accurate figure for the people who lost their lives. The government claiming it was hundreds less than the best estimates of the day. Gorbachev the Prime Minister of Russia at the time, had just landed on a state visit. It was the height of embarrassment for the Chinese. He told me that his mother was alongside for much of the demonstrations, with the infamous unidentified man, known as the “Tank man.” For those who won’t be able to remember the footage, he stood alone in front of a battalion of tanks and would not give way. The world saw the defiance of this student and applauded his bravery at the time. Leon dropped me off just around the corner of my hotel, I was so grateful to him, but I never got to meet his mom, who sounded a real character.
I am here in Guilin for two days. It was always planned that way because I wanted to do a river trip up the river Li that takes me to where the local fishermen used trained cormorants to catch their fish for them. Now whilst it was always intended that I do it, it wasn’t booked in advance, because of schedule changes etc. My hotel have taken care of it, but unfortunately for me, I have had to pay cash. Now because on Monday I intend to be in Vietnam my Chinese Yuan in cash was running out by design. Not a problem me thinks, the hotel says that there is a bank next door to use an ATM. But as I described recently China is a closed currency so it is not that simple. I only need an extra £50 or something just to tide me over. So I goes to the cash point at the next door bank. Card rejected - rejection code :95564. Try again this time a different ATM three machines down. The exact same thing happened again. Card rejected - rejection code :95564. So I marches to the lobby teller to pass on some very stern Bobby talk. It pans out that if you need Chinese Juan the only bank that is allowed to give you those is “The Bank of China.” Until now I haven’t needed one because I converted U.S. dollars cash into Yuan. So now onto the trail of BOC! I think that it must have been person number fifteen in the list of directioners that I sought advice from, said it was three buildings down. It was, but I hasten to add that it was over a mile from my start point and fourteen pointers later. Most of them repeated “Aaah – Bancoshina!” Trying, I know, but supposedly the ends justified the means. First ATM no problem – job done. Money in pocket suddenly I was delivered a new problem. Where the fireman’s helmet was I? Looking back I had come out of the bank from a different door that I had come in. So, instinct was telling me to reverse my steps from when I went into the bank, but actually, in hindsight that led me in the opposite direction. Always taking sight markings when I travel anywhere (little bit like the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale with the breadcrumbs – obviously without the bread!) I couldn’t register any of the buildings or landmarks. After ten minutes walking I stopped on the bridge. Remember rationalise? When I was walking to the bank the hazy light source (the sun) was on my left shoulder, through the clouds. Where is it now? Same, even allowing for half an hour of sun repositioning during the day, it was still in the same place. Now either the sun was wrong or it was me. I chose the latter. The sun (behind the clouds light source) needed to be on my right side facing me. Checking the time as a good boy scout would always do, I followed my returning instinct. Guilin (pronounced Gway- lyn) in a very large city with lots of tall buildings, so large parts of the block to block checking process had to be put on hold because the same buildings blocked the light source. I found it! Actually far quicker than the pointers had taken me an hour earlier.
These are two pictures that I have just taken out of my window – please excuse the quality they were taken through glass. More about the river trip tomorrow.
Good view isn't it?
Position: 27°57'19” N 109°35'41”E – Miles completed: 08513
Location: Guilin, China. 20:22 - 17th January 2020 - Journey 22 days 10 hours