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April 25, 2005

First Day in Mainland China

The trip has finally started. We've been in Hong Kong for the past week, but HK was for work, familiar, on an expense account, and mentally separate from the bulk of the trip.

Last night we caught an hour flight at 8pm on China Southern Airlines into Guilin, China. Passed through immigration and customs successfully. Withdrew Yuan currency successfully. Survived my scariest cab ride to date to get to the hotel from the airpost. Realized along the way that lane markers are a suggestion at best. Checked into the hotel, even though they'd lost or never had our Expedia recommendation. We fended off the advances of many tour operators. Figured out how to work all the chinese appliances.

Woke up and wandered the streets to find breakfast. Aimee had someone write on a card "i am a vegetarian. i only eat things like bok choy and tofu. NO meat." armed with this, we ordered vegetarian steamed buns from a stand on the street, and later discovered that they were filled pork. (The pork had bits of celery in it, so I guess that counts for vegatarian.)

"in american, the computer corrects our spelling" - overheard in an Aussie bar just now, quote attributed to an American.

also just now, "here's how you do the 'middle finger'", taught by an australian guy along with "fuck" and other swear works, to a three-some of leaning-in very eager local teen-age girls.

My first traumatic chinese experiences - #1 seeing a bike with a cage in the front packed with dogs :(  #2 hearing a squealing pig (like a "bloddy murder" type that i have never heard before) that was about to be loaded onto truck - i'm guessing to be slaughtered b/c animals know this shit, but i don't even know that there was a truck involved. i didn't look but this is what nate said. for all i know they could have been slaughtering it right there next to me. he's been blocking me from these things on the trip.

right now we're in yangshuo. it's a pretty region that has these crazy limestone mountains. one guide book described it as a "dr suess" landscape, which i would have to agree with. it was rainging today, but still enough beauty to see. tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and we are renting bikes to ride into the countryside and take a bamboo raft down one of the side rivers. should be cool. i love getting lost in asia on a bike. the town itself is very touristy and western, but once we get out of town it should be nice. we came for the mountains and they haven't let us down yet. and while i can, i'll take advantage of places that understand "vegetarian" and have pizzas on the menu (although i can't wait to get to the sichuan area to have some spicy goodness).

Anyways, we're finishing up our meal and second beers, taking advantage of free wireless in this aussie bar/restaurant. (this just in: according to the american guy who said that computers correct our spelling a while ago, "girls like bon jovi", said because 'livin' on a prayer' is playing for at least the second time since we've sat down!!)

we'll write more (and better) later, but just wanted to get something out while we're here, and get a first real post on the blog so that we can send out the official invitations to start reading!

We're in country now, and and have our next week or so of adventures planned. Can't wait to wake up tomorrow and have a full day of exploring to begin, instead of more moving around. I'm looking forward to my body and mind switching gears and getting into the groove.

See you down the road....

April 25, 2005 at 07:46 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Hi Nate and Aimee!

Sounds great. I especially like the sound of floating down a lazy river after a good go on the bicycle.

Amazing how ubiquitous bad American music is anywhere a western traveler might stumble. In South and Central America, you couldnt call it a day without hearing Bon Jovi (and watching the women swoon at the sound, laf). My favorite was a truck stop in middle of Colombia rockin' Guns and Roses. I caught the register man twidling his air guitar under the counter.

bon voyage. thanks for sharing!

Posted by: matt kebbe | Apr 25, 2005 8:27:37 AM

Thanks Matt, we're excited to be under way, and inspired by all those that have gone before us (nudge nudge: You!)

Posted by: nate koechley | May 1, 2005 7:56:05 PM

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