Orient Express 09 travel blog

a local village market

the flotila

The famous shot... on their 20 Yuan note.

We’ve been sent off on a cruise on the Li River. Where the Yangtze was dirty from rubbish, debris and churn, this river is so clear and beautiful. The banks are large pebbles and periodically there are ethnic communities ... mostly fishing villages but also traders. We are the 7th boat in the convoy of 8 boats and god knows how many smaller boats hanging around... flotilla like.

The scenery is beautiful, but its very foggy/smoggy/misty/humidity... consequently, our photos are quite poor. Well mine are any way. And, don’t tell anyone, but I am a little bored. Its fascinating and all but, this goes for 4 hours! They’ve been telling us of the specific scenic spots but it just looks like hills, limestone, craggy bits, trees. We’ve seen some water buffalo, goats, ducks. A black enormous butterfly and thats really it. They are saying things like 9 horse mountain... frankly I cant see any!.

Finally the aircon has dropped the temperature to bearable. I thought I would die otherwise.

Finally the interminable boat trip was finished and we ended up in a market town, name unknown.(might have been Yangshuo) We had a choice of shopping or a food market. Everyone but me wanted to go to the food market, so I had to go. I didn’t want to go because i knew what would be there.. and yes... if it wriggled, crawled, squawked or quacked you could buy it there dead or alive. Snake, turtle, crabs, fish, snails, yabbies, chicken, ducks, pork, beef. Things I didn’t know what they were.

Then I saw it... what I’d been dreading.. a cage full of live puppies/dogs, and then many stalls of dead, gutted, smoked, dissected, dogs . Some with heads on. A man was cleaning one at the rear of his stall, scrubbing with a brush, next to a pelt. It was distressing. It looked like they were especially bred, big strong dogs. They looked like tan huskies but with shorter hair... They were sad.. I was sad. We were all upset. I guess we have to realise that other cultures have different ideas about what is food and what isn’t. I cant understand how they have pet dogs and eat dog..

Anyway... that was the food market.

Later we walked up the folding brocade mountain. The views from the top were quite stunning. We all hoped there would be a MICA ambulance at the top or that the flying doctor could drop in to rescue us. It was very steep.

Dinner was absolutely brilliant, and then off we went to the night market. It was a very long market, many blocks long. It was really just an assortment of $2 type shops mostly. It was very colourful, not much English spoken at all. I’m glad we saw it, but the only thing purchased by me was a second battery for my bloody magnificent camera. Now I’m lusting after a video camera, like Kevin’s.

There are so many motorbikes and scooters here. They are just everywhere, thousands of them.

Its weird... the traffic system... well it would be if I thought there was a system. It appears most road signs are optional. For example, red lights, the pedestrian crossings etc. So walking across the road was a little like Russian roulette. On a red light... taxis can go, bikes and scooters, and anyone turning right!!! Yep, almost everyone can go.

On the way back from the night market, we stopped for coffee. They used a new technique that’s all the rage in serious coffee shops in Australia - I've never seen it before though. I’ve only seen it on TV, but never thought Id ever get to try it. They heat the water in a Bunsen burner with the coffee in a separate pot on the top. As the water heats up it bubbles up a pipe into the coffee. It was magnificent, but odd nonetheless. Helen and Kevin asked for latte, their drink came in a long glass with a straw. The bottom was white , the middle was black, and then foam. Once they stirred it, it turned into a latte. I had a cappuccino. This was a black coffee with foam on the top. I got no straw. Getting sugar for Kevin was a little difficult but we managed it.

This was about as difficult as getting a drink at the meeting place after the food market. We were told to meet in a hotel. It was more like a reception area of a motel. It had a little shop. So, as usual I get the job of trying to speak and be understood by someone who has no english.

So I get us 4 beers and a coke, pay the man, then take his opener and open the beers. We made ourselves comfortable in their lobby. Things were going well until the rest of the group straggled in and also wanted beers and cold drinks. I think the man got more than he had originally agreed to. We took over the entire area, and then left bottles and rubbish for him, including the skins of 2 persimmons that the guide wanted us to try, regardless of the fact we were drinking beer. She seemed fine with the whole hotel invasion so maybe it was. I felt a bit bad about it. PS: as expected persimmon and beer are not culinary partners. For those who haven’t eaten persimmon, it has a texture of pumpkin. Its sweet, not unpleasant by any means, but extremely astringent. Your mouth is so dry you think you’ll never have saliva in your mouth ever again. This could be a good thing for the people here who constantly spit. Its so gross!!!

A funny thing

....happened to Helen. She received an erroneous sms telling her that Isaac and Charlie were arriving late but all were ok... We were laughing saying that we needed to be home, showered and in fresh clothes by the time they got there. I said she should text back to make sure they had the room number right....

A funny thing... part 2...

So late last night Helen looked at her sms’s again... this time with her glasses on!

The message was.. Isaac Charlie Tate arrived. All ok. This is actually a new birth we’ve all been waiting for!!!.


Helen then sent Ian a text.

I did point out it was 1.30 in the morning in Geelong....

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