“Dang, China is hella developed” is what I’ve been going thru my mind the last few days here. We’ve quickly travelled from Nanning, Kunming and Chengdu – not very known cities of South Western China. Each are huge, modern cities with many high-rise buildings, some with big screen commercials playing and others decorated with brightly colored moving lights. Think NYC times 4. Everything is in Chinese characters – signs, billboards, street names. Everyone speaks Mandarin or some dialect of it. Hardly anyone (including the taxi drivers and hotel staff) speaks any English or Cantonese. And everyone, even the ones that don’t understand any English, seems to understand my partner (who is not Chinese) better than me. WTF.
Anyway, I thought Vietnam was hard to navigate…pfff, well that was before I ever came to China. We arrived after 13 hrs of being in a stanky-smoky-sleeper train ride in Nanning at 7am on 5/30 – and found ourselves lost for the first time, like REALLY LOST lugging around all of our shit in the middle of a large busy metropolitan downtown street. We took the local bus from the train station that was supposed to only take about 30 mins and drop us off really close to our hotel that was supposed to be on the main downtown street. If you haven’t picked up from this point, key words – “supposed to.”
Well THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN. Instead for 5 hours – we wandered about hella stranded, resting at the bus stop (at which point my partner was losing her nerve), me trying to wave down taxis that would stop and I would try to communicate in Cantonese (because according to wikitravel Nanning – some of the older folks are supposed to speak it) showing them the name/address I wrote down in my lito notebook of the hotel given by the website that we booked from. Damn, our first lesson in China. LESSON #1 – if you ever travel to China and are like me and my partner, WRITE DOWN or PRINT (if you have access to a printer) the name/address of the hotel in the Chinese characters.
So for about 45 mins of being posted at the bus stop looking hella desperate and cab drivers stopping and then driving away from us cuz they couldn’t understand what I had written down, luckily (or not so lucky) finally a cab driver decided to take us to our destination. Well he ended up driving us hella far away from the main road and then driving us back to the same road he picked us up from except one block up and charged us 30 RMB which is about $5 USD. Short 5 bucks and some more time– we lugged our shit into the huge ass mall near where he dropped us that included shops like Adidas, Walmart, Nike, Apple store, etc. Exhausted, I finally was able to find someone who could speak English, he wrote down the address for me in Chinese characters. Reluctantly we got into another cab that ended up successfully getting us to our hotel – which we found was not really on the main road but awkwardly tucked away off the road with no signage of the name outside or inside of what was listed online.
Anyway, we stayed in Nanning for one night at the stinky cigarette-smelling hotel and was on the next 13 hr train to Kunming. No crazy lost stories in Kunming, just a big cockroach one… We decided to book a little bit nicer hotel unknowingly trading in the 2nd hand smoke for this inch long black cockroach chilling on our white bed. Yea, like chilling. FML. Two nights here, got to see what this city is known for the Stone Forest.
We also randomly came across this restaurant that serves Sichuan fish. Basically hot pot full of peppers and garlic and each person gets their own full fish that is cooked in it. Yum, the fish was sooo soft and good, it melted in our mouths… eating the fish in this style represents bringing good fortune for the upcoming year.
We’re in Chengdu right now and far so good. We are staying at the Holiday Inn Express, so we have more access to the internet. Which the hotels in Nanning and Kunming advertised as having but didn’t really and it didn’t matter because apparently, China has blocked google, youtube, facebook, wordpress and many other US-based sites. But because we’re at an American chain hotel, somehow we have had an easier time accessing google and wordpress. Its pretty much hit and miss.
More later on the cultural shock of being in China…and hopefully some more yummy good foods its been the best in China so far in this Asia trip.