June 5th 1984

posted in: The way back | 1

Annoyed to be struck down once again by the shits.  Even the Lomotil tablets that I am taking, supposedly with the efficiency of a large cork, are having no effect.  But we have some other tablets, obtained from the same source, Brunei hospital, so I’ll try those.  We were later arriving than we expected, but no time was wasted.  We were herded straight onto a waiting bus, + away!  The boat had carried us as far as Wuzhou – we now had an 8 or 9 hr journey to Yangshuo.  On a Nepal bus, that journey would be murderous, but here it was passed reasonably comfortably.  The bus itself was reasonably new (+ certainly uncrowded – private vehicles, other than bikes, aren’t allowed in China); there were frequent stops to stretch one’s legs, go to the toilet, eat; + in any case, once I’d spent a little while gazing out of the window, I spent most of the journey with my nose buried in a book.  Actually, tho’, as the journey wore on, the scenery became increasingly spectacular, with tall limestone mountains rising up sheer out of the paddy-fields, grey giants marching across the countryside.  They weren’t concentrated into one range either, but scattered almost randomly.  And so they could appear + be appreciated in different ways – close-to as massive + imposing, far-off, veiled in mist, strange + mysterious.  A Tolkien landscape.

On arriving at Yanshuo, we were able to go directly to the cheaper of the town’s 2 hotels – Mike had a map, drawn for him by another traveller.  The town seemed small, attractive – the mountains could be seen towering above the place from almost everywhere, + there were many ponds – + infinitely more welcoming than Guangzhou had been.  The hotel was an extraordinary place, ramshackle stone buildings ranged around a simply enormous courtyard.  It was difficult to believe it was all part of the hotel (The Xi Lang Hill) but I think it was.  There was no difficulty about getting a room, tho’ it took a bit of stubbornness on our part before they would accept local money.  Our room was a little dingy, but adequate, with mosquito nets for each bed.  There were 4 beds, + we were sharing with Allen + Mike, with whom we’d arrived.  That sorted out, we went out to eat at a local restaurant, one geared for foreigners, The Lotus Flower.  Things were chaotic there – they were obviously far too popular for their own good, + weren’t able to cope, but the food turned out to be excellent.  With 4 of us eating together, we were able to have a real feast.

That night we discovered one of the drawbacks of the town – with all the still water about, it was a haven for mosquitoes.  So we quickly dived under our nets.

It seems that we, or at the very least I, are becoming used to life here, and starting to enjoy it. Negotiations with authority are nearly always problematic, but I think we are benefitting from the fact that the place is newly opened to travellers like us, so they have not got used to our devious ways, in terms of getting the cheapest possible deal in all situations.

  1. Pamela J Blair

    I’m wondering if you ever came across Enterovioform, for the unstoppable gut. I had a similar problem (drank Nile water before I put in my iodine tablets) and was miserable, traveling from the Nile, across east Sudan and into Ethiopia. Found Enterovioform at a pharmacy in Gondor, and was almost immediately cured. I wondered why I hadn’t known about them in the States or Europe and got the answer–some Dutch volunteers (somewhere in Africa) had been taking them prophylactically and had gone blind. But they were still selling them in Ethiopia! I didn’t know whether to be happy about that or not. I guess happy for myself.

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