29 Sep 2004
|It is the Full Moon Festival tonight, though I have yet to find out whether that is an annual thing or a monthly thing. I do know it involves a lot of people walking the 1200 steps up a karst peak about 10 kms from here that has a moon shaped hole in it, and is therefore called Moon Hill, uncharacteristically straightforward nomenclature for Chinese. Another nearby hill is called the "frogs playing with their boots before eating".
I won't be going to Moon Hill, but I will be up for any partying in town. To be honest, I expect little.
Mellow day generally today. Posted some Xmas presents by sea, will take 80 days. This was expensive admittedly, and cancelled out the benefit of getting stuff cheaper in China, but does mean I don't have to carry it, and I think it is nice to think of a parcel very slowly working its way across the world to arrive for Xmas.
And then I hired a bike again. Even more fun than last time, as I rode off randomly down country tracks. Usual ace views, etc, but again too much of a heat haze for panoramas. After several hours of this, back to town to shower and turn the air-conditioning on full.
The Chinese are great ones for community entertainment. On my way riding out of town, this guy is chasing some kid down the road, catches him and starts berating him, etc, presumably for stealing. Everyone gathers round and savours the spectacle. This happens with rows, accidents, just about anything, and I see something like this where everyone stops and gathers round to watch most days here.
Tomorrow, decamp to Guilin, ready for 20 hour hard sleeper to Kunming. It is probably a good job I am leaving here, as I have been here almost a week already. This morning I was asked to stay and teach English at a school here. I was quite tempted, and this is the sort of thing I might want to be doing, though perhaps not quite yet. I think it is pretty easy to get teaching work in China, everyone wants to learn English, especially in tourist areas. I would have been replacing an 18 year old American who came here for a few days and ended up staying months. A good opportunity for gap year person perhaps.
However, it is too easy here, and this is not just about sight-seeing. I need to go back to being a stranger in a strange land, I will learn more that way. Though I think it will still be Westerners for a week or so.
As for the Moon Festival, when I was having dinner tonight (my first and maybe last chance at Western food, so a very nice burger and chips), absolutely hordes of Chinese were pouring down West Street towards the river, where there were fireworks (average) and various obscure excitements. These weren't the Chinese tourist hordes I'm used to though, but locals from the nearby swamps I think, and a more badly dressed horde it is hard to imagine, and gawking wildly at the foreigners. A semi-obese bloke (mild by American standards) went past and they all just stopped and stared and pointed, etc, hundreds of them, poor bloke. Not a good place to be a real fatty, in a nation of skinny people. And then drinking with some English cavers here to explore the (hopefully) deepest cave in Asia.
And then the next day, when I finally packed I could not believe the weight of my rucksack, and that it was almost completely at capacity, and this is a very serious rucksack too. So I bit the bullet, and went to the Post Office and sent 10 kilos of stuff back home by sea, which was frankly a blessing, even though it cost me nearly twenty-five pounds, as my rucksack feels much better now, and should be back within flight allowances. This was nearly all stuff I bought here, particulalry CDs and DVDS, so let's hope our customs leaves them alone. Unfortunately, I also sent some stuff I had been planning to give on my return, oh well.