Trip originally planned for Guiyang to Guilin ended up being Guiyang to Kunming. Oh well, seven times to Kunming is not bad!
29.05.2008 - 30.05.2008
Day One -Thursday, May 29. To the airport and Guiyang
Our trip to Guiyang began at 3 P.M. as we boarded the mini-van we had rented for the trip to the Chengdu airport. The wonderful lady who sells bus tickets on campus requested we rent her van for the 300 yuan we normally pay. We were more than happy to do it and, as it turned out, her van was new and comfortable. So much for the good news.
The bad news is that the driver of the van had no idea how to get to the Chengdu airport from Emei City. Instead of just two hours, it took well over three hours to find the airport and get our bags checked. We arrived to the waiting area at around 7 pm, one hour before take-off. Fortunately, we had started at three instead of the four P.M. the ticket lady had suggested. Even have time to waste some money eating at the buffet inside the airport. Expensive and not very satisfying. Was this an omen for our upcoming trip. I certainly hoped it was not.
Our plane left at 8 P.M. and after a very pleasant flight of about an hour we arrived to Guiyang, Capital of Guizhou Province. We deplaned, went through the arrival gates and picked up our bags. At the reception area, we met our student Grace, Grace’s mother, a good friend of her mother’s and Kathyrn, another of our students. Craig, the other Guiyang student we have, was unable to make it to the airport. He promised to see us in the morning.
Grace and I had arranged for us to stay at 7 Inns Hotel in downtown Guiyang. The price was 177 Yuan a night which Grace felt was reasonable. Unfortunately, when we arrived, the hotel was not accustomed to foreign guests so this caused a bit of a stir. We overcame the problem and checked in. Our rooms were well-appointed and clean. It was nice to finally be in Guiyang with no earthquake warnings!
Day Two - Friday, May 30. Around Guiyang
All three of our students, Grace, Kathryn and Craig plus Craig’s friends came by to pick us up at the hotel at 7 A.M. sharp. The first thing we did was go get a typical Guiyang breakfast. This took us about 40 minutes or so of walking to the restaurant that served the breakfast. Mostly sticky rice with spicy meats and vegetables. Forget John! He is not able to even taste this hot, let alone have it for breakfast. He settled for some dumplings instead.
After breakfast, our next stop was the First Scholar Tower. Set on a pond, this is typical Ming dynasty architecture, beautifully done throughout. We spent a couple of hours taking pictures and relaxing together. Sunee bought a book on Guiyang to put on our coffee table when we get one.
Since Grace’s plan was for us to travel by bus to Qianling park after our visit to First Scholar Tower, we walked to the nearest taxi stop. Because there were six of us, we decided to take a bus but then changed our minds and three of us took the bus and three took a taxi. Sunee, Grace and I took a taxi to Qianling park to wait for John, Craig and Katherine to arrive. While waiting, an older gentleman approached me and asked where I was from. We had a great conversation in English that lasted about twenty minutes. The gentleman told us that he always approached foreign visitors to welcome them to Guiyang. He first learned English in 1948 and enjoyed using it as often as he could.
Along the street leading up to Qianling park were restaurants specializing in the famous Guiyang snack food, Silk Babies. Since we figured it would be about another ten or fifteen minutes before our group arrived, we decided to give them a try. They are like little tacos one fills with an assortment of meats, vegetables and condiments. Very interesting and tasty! As we did our silk babies, Craig with our fellow travelers arrived and joined us for the silk babies. Nice snack. Very nice snack indeed!
John and I both have a love for ice cream. China offers some of the best variety of ice cream anywhere in the world. While I prefer the “sour milk” cheap bars (1.5 Yuan) that remind me of my youth, John goes for the luxury. Here we found the Magnums that we both enjoyed in Thailand. Expensive at 3.5 yuan but a treat.
A Magnum Treat
Qianling Park is a huge park and very popular with the locals. In the park, we walked up the mountain to Hongfu Temple. Not much to see there as the Temple was being refurbished and was pretty well covered up with plastic tarps. We did have some fun trying our “luck” on the wall facing the temple. Unfortunately the weather was not cooperating with us and there was a light mist for the entire time we were on the mountain. John ran off with Craig to go see the top of the peak and we sat around, visiting and waiting for them to return. Sunee also tried her look at touch the Buddha's stomach while her eyes were closed. Amost!
Upon their return we walked down the other side of the mountain to Qianling Lake. A lot of those macaque monkeys like we have a Emei Shan. Monkeys all over the place. On the trip back from Thailand, I sat next to an American doctor who worked in Chengdu. He told me several horror stories about these nasty monkeys doing serious harm to humans, especially if you had something they wanted. Grace had here orange juice bottle forced out of her hand by a sneering monkey.
About half-way down the mountain we saw a lady, apparently an employee of the park, feeding some of these monkeys. One mother monkey with baby was sitting very close to her as she fed the two or three younger monkeys. Suddenly a big male lumbered up and before the poor lady knew it, the mother monkey had bitten her on the fore arm. I took a good look at the wound when she rolled up her sleeves. Ugly but no blood. Four distinct bite marks were already turning blue. Ouch. Keep away from those nasty monkeys. They are neither cute nor playful!
At the base of the mountain, we took the obligatory pictures by the monuments, stopped and visited with some food sellers and looked for a tea house. John particularly was aching for some relaxation and tea. No luck, everything was closed. We headed out of the park via a long tunnel. Better than climbing over the mountain for sure! Along the way I took some pictures of the local Guiyang snacks.
John was still looking for a tea house and we had about an hour before our expected visit to Grace’s house for dinner. We found a coffee shop that offered us a reprise from our walk and they did have coffee so we kicked back, drank our tea and visited. As we sat, two young girls came over to practice their English. The younger girl’s English was exceptional and so we visited for several minutes with her. Absolutely delightful young girls who showed quite a bit of bravery by approaching the visiting foreigners to talk to.
At around seven we left for Grace’s house for dinner. And what a dinner it was! Grace’s mother and uncle plus several friends had put together one of the finest dinners I have ever experienced on our trips abroad. Impressive is an understatement! Pictures are better than words. What a great finish to a great first full day in Guiyang.
Grace and her cousin took us back to our hotel where we present Grace (for her mother) a gift we had brought from Thailand specially for this event.