So you may be thinking….

these fickle flaky bloggers. They rope us in with videos of mud parties and drag queen belly dancing and then firmly leave us high and dry. Although it may appear that we are doing just that, we are so excited because on Saturday, we should be in Vietnam! which *should* (and I highlight should because this is Asia after all,) mean that we have access to photo posting and high speed internet! Hoorah. Regardless, since Nanning is the armpit of China and our hostel is conveniently located across the street from a pots/pans factory where they hammer metal beginning at, oh, 6 am, I thought I would beguile you with our most recent travel day so that perhaps you would forgive us and maybe even pity us for one minute, completely forgetting in your head that we have been boring you with empty promises for the last month 🙂

So, we’re in Guanxi province in Southern China. We were staying one night in Xingping with our travel pals, Annika and Lars, that we’ve met along the bumpy roads of China. We had spent a night eating dumplings, drinking beer and sitting on a roof terrace, playing cards overlooking the sun setting on the gorgeous karst countryside. (This is not the part where you are meant to pity us.) Sad to say good-bye to our friends, we walk through the one tiny road of Xingping to the bus station. Nobody bothers us about riding their uncles/brothers/great uncles dogs grandfather’s bamboo raft or for any cormorant fishing. We look at each other and smile, off to a wonderful start after a great night.

We even manage to catch a bus that’s. going to Guilin instead of having to switch in Yangshuo. Excellent. Ace. An uneventful 2 hour ride to Guilin with only one little glitch, we are starving. We didn’t have any breakfast because we thought we’d be switching in Yangshuo and could grab a little fruit and some street food to take on the next bus to Guilin with us.

We have toughed out much worse than two hours of hunger so we thought, no big deal at all. We also have some fairly tasteless and cardboard-like rice cakes, granola bar things. When we arrive in Guilin, we allow ourselves to be taken by a tout who claims that his bus is leaving in 30 minutes to Nanning and it only takes 3.5 hours. This is the vital error of the day. We dumbly thought, Great! We don’t have to wait around in the bus station and we can grab something to eat to bring on the bus. If you can imagine chaos of the worst kind, this is what the parking lot looked like. There was only some meaty looking chicken skewers and a convenience shop. We buy a coke and some marshmallow pies because we don’t want to be late for the bus which we’ve just paid 80 RMB each for. I have to go to the toilet and the tout takes me across the street to a hotel to use the toilet. He speaks decent English and is waxing philosophical about the heat(it’s about 400 degrees outside), Obama, basketball, California and of course, my utter beauty. He keeps touching my sticky arm. I tell him I have a husband and 2 children, a boy and girl. He tells me that his wife is tall and beautiful. I thought we had everything squared away.

It’s 1:30 now and I am rushing across the road with the tout, who informs me his English name is “Angelo.” We find Ellie and Angelo begins to tell Ellie of her utter beauty. She quickly informs him that she has a husband and 2 children, a boy and a girl. He tells her that he has a wife who is tall and beautiful. Again, squared away.

We begin to wonder why the bus isn’t here yet. We begin to worry that when they told us the bus was full originally but they would make a call, that there was actually no bus and that our tiny receipt meant very little in the world of China. What would we do if no bus ever showed up? Certainly, the other guy at the desk laughed when Ellie was getting mad about standing in the heat and tired of being hit by deformed beggars cups. She pointed at the Mandarin word for refund and he just smiled at her, laughing.

A woman with the emptiest eyes in the world and a bad case of scoliosis is hitting me with a dog bowl, wanting a tip for breathing. Angelo returns from wherever guys like Angelo go to get unsuspecting victims like us. He says the bus will be there in ten minutes. Ellie starts to howl at him. I call him a liar and tell him to give us our money back. We realize we could have gotten on any bus that leaves every 30 minutes at the bus station. We also realize that we could have ventured further than this hideous parking lot to find something to eat.

Ten minutes passes and Angelo smiles, shows us the clock on his phone and says “20 more minutes.” I am getting pissed and about to have heat stroke as we breathe in the fumes of buses, pulling out of the station, leaving us in the dust.

Angelo keeps petting my sweaty arm, saying “You’re so beautiful, so beautiful.”

The conversation goes like this:

Angelo: “You’re so beautiful, so beautiful.”

Ellie: “You’re a liar. We want our money back.”

Angelo: “But you’re so beautiful.”

Ellie: “Stop touching her right now. Kelly, move away from him”

Angelo: “It’s hot outside. I love Obama.”

Ellie: “Stop talking to me before I get more pissed off.”

The situation goes around in circles with me also ascertaining that Angelo is a crook and a pain in the ass. He keeps dropping my bag off the bench on accident into a pile of chicken bones and spit. He wipes the bag off haphazardly.

Then the unthinkable happens. Angelo becomes a nose-picker. He picks hard and deep, stopping to view his findings with the same intensity of the archaeologists, we saw excavating the Terracotta warriors in Xi’an. The nose picking is non-stop. It’s pretty gross but doesn’t involve me so I look away.

I look away, until it does involve me. My involvement comes when Angelo begins to rub his booger hands over my fiery arm, stating his usual claims of beauty and Obama-loving. I look at Ellie for help and she looks like she might either A. punch Angelo B. laugh at the fact that I have booger arms or C. lay down and cry in the pile of chicken bones and spit that my bag has fallen into again.

45 minutes have passed and still no bus. We could have been halfway to Nanning by now. We are starving, but are bound to Angelo’s boogery side, in case the bus “shows up.” I threaten with calling the police and he laughs, shaking his head and showing us the clock on his phone. He simply says, “You’re beautiful.”

Suddenly 2 hours later, a spritely Chinese woman runs up and tells us to hurry, the bus is leaving NOW!  Next thing we know, she’s running through the parking lot like an escaped convict and we’re trying to follow her in her 4’10, 90 pounds glory. We are basically carrying the equivalent of her on our backs. She ducks under guardrails and jumps over obstacles. She leads us to the highway. She stands in the middle of the freeway, waving frantically at something. Then she gets pissed and comes to the sidewalk. She repeats this process about ten times. She looks as though she’s trying to flag down a bus for us.

Finally, after pissed off phone calls in Mandarin, a bus shows up. So does Angelo to tell us he hopes we have a “wonderful day” and that, of course, ” we are so beautiful.”

The bus ride actually takes more about 5 hours and we arrive late in Nanning, starving. The bus station is 40 minutes outside of the city, which is really unusual. It costs us an arm, a lung and Ellie’s nose to pay for the cab ride.

We check in and immediately get on the hunt for food. We really want Chinese cabbage or some eggplant or something delicious. Nothing is open. We stop in front of KFC. I want to cry. We eat a shrimp burger each and some cold french fries. Not exactly, the meal to end the fast that I had been dreaming about on the bus ride. We end the night with a visit to Walmart to get some breakfast foods. Although, it was hardly worth our oranges and muffins to deal with the 3.3 million people in Walmart 5 minutes before they close. Someone’s eating stinky durian behind us, a woman’s trying to cut us in line, another woman’s ramming her cart up Ellie’s bum.

We get lost walking back. I want to cry, again. I am sweaty. I smell. I want to go back to the countryside. I want a Vietnamese visa more than my ovaries. I fall asleep finally, dreaming of spring rolls and dumplings. I wake up, feeling ill from a KFC shrimp burger.

Traveling isn’t always full of delicious foods, interesting people and life-altering scenery, but at least, it almost always is full of good stories.

Coming back in action to you with photos and stories of Korea, Japan and China in less than 5 days. Vietnam, here we come.


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