Got a call from a friend in Nanning and he asked me to come down to see his new project. So 8am this morning we took the express bus to Nanning. From Yangshuo to Nanning takes about 7 hours and it costs for the express about $20. It is a very comfortable bus and the ride was very smooth. At the bus station we were met by my friend who then drove us about 2 hours to the "village".
The village is about 60 acres with 4 hotels on it, also a restaurant. It backs up to and is part of a national park. Three of the hotels were taken from the area of Longshen piece by piece and reassembled here back in 1986. They are very old building and there are no nails used in them, very unique structures. The forth hotel is new about 2 years old. Once we got there we were directed to one of the old hotels for our rooms. I had stayed in Longshen before and enjoyed the old wooden buildings there. Longshen is north of Guilin so maybe an 8 to 10 hour-ride away. So bringing these here in 1986 was an interesting idea. Unfortunately these buildings were not in the best of shape. They look beautiful but lots of needed TLC.
We Stayed on the second floor and were told not go to the third floor because it was dangerous. All in all it was very nice. The interior had all the modern upgrades, TV, AC, western toilets. After we settled in it was dinnertime. We discovered that we were the only guests on the complex. But a busy holiday weekend was coming up and the place would be busy.
As we had our dinner the staff was practicing for their performances for the weekend. It was great to listen to them. Later that evening some of the villagers from the real village just outside the complex came and sat around singing folk songs in their dialect. It was late so we headed to bed. My room had lots of windows to see the fantastic views but no screens and I discovered the first night lots of mosquitoes.
5-1-09 Wonderful day
Got up early and walked around the grounds. It is a beautiful park like setting. At one time it even had a small lake on it. We had breakfast out in the large patio area they call the Bar-B-Q terrace. They have about 6 bar-b-q stands there and if guests want to they can bring their own food and cook it there themselves.
There was going to be some celebrations in the town, which is a 20-minute drive away. So we jumped into the car and headed to town. The town was created back in the 60's to house displaced overseas Chinese. At that time several countries in Asia were hassling their Chinese minorities. One in particular was Indonesia. Many Chinese returned at that time from there and some of the other Asian countries. Most did not speak Mandarin and had lived in the foreign countries for generations.
Now back in China they had to readjust to life in China. This area still accepts Chinese people from all over the world to settle here. The celebration in part was about this. Lots of food stands with different foods from all over Asia. Dancing and acts from different places. It was packed and it was lots of fun. I was introduced to my friend's classmate who was from the area and who is the local expert on the area. He showed me a long photo display that he had made and set up showing some of the interesting things that had occurred in the area.
We had a great time.
We headed back to the hotel. An important person was coming to the "village" and they wanted me to meet him. We got back and had a late lunch, there were a few more people there now, but not the important person I was to meet. Lunch was fantastic. Each meal here was a gourmet delight. Like all my meals in China each meal is different here they have added the factor of traditional meals from other Asian countries and the fact that everything was produced locally. Once again I have learned to taste and not ask what it was I was eating. The staff was well aware of my allergy to bell peppers and often made me a completely separate dish to taste. That was good and bad. Good it did not have bell peppers but bad in that if I did not like it, it stood out like a sore thumb on the lazy Susie as it passed by. We took a rest; it was getting hot and a little humid. Still no important person but lots of other people. They moved us to the new hotel that did have screens on the windows. The rustic life is ok but if you have a brand new hotel no one was using why not use it. Most the new guests were staying and experiencing the rustic hotel. Most guests, who came, came by car so these were not your normal Chinese folks.
This evening still no important person so they postponed the performance some of the staff did some more practice and some of the guests joined in. The setting is fantastic at night even with the mosquitoes.
More people began to arrive. . We were introduced to several friends of my friend who came to spend their weekend holiday there. It was decided that we should climb the mountain.
The Chinese seem to have this thing about loving to climb mountains. I was told it was an easy climb all "concrete". I said that means steps. They said not too bad maybe only 10 or 15 minutes. I should have been a little suspicious when we were told we had to wait for our guide "the hunter" and even more suspicious when my friend said he could not go because he had business in the town. Off we went first across a small pasture of wild flowers all in bloom and then a rocky path. I kept thinking where is this "concrete" easy walkway. As we started our climb up a path of uneven stone steps all I could think about is that I really do not like steps. As we climbed and climbed the views were nice and the growth got a little denser. About 30 minutes into the climb I was about to quit but then the ones up front said they could see the summit. So I pushed on. At the top were a small one-room house and a gazebo to rest at. On top of the gazebo were statues of monkeys. In the springtime the hills would be covered with monkeys, but right now they are all gone. We sat around and enjoyed the view and I tried to catch my breath. I think the combination of height and humidity was a bit much. After a while the group decided to walk down the other side. All I could think of was that I would rather save my energy to walk down this side back to the hotel. So they said ok I could wait there and they would be back in about 15 minutes. While I was waiting a group of High School students came up the path. They were exhausted and I kind of felt good about that. We tried to communicate a little with their chinenglish and my universal sign language. About 45 minutes had gone by and I could hear one of my friend's voices. Oh they were coming back. Dawn and one of the guys were coming back the others were still going into the jungle. Dawn said that after a while she asked the "hunter" how much further and he said about 2 more hours and she said she had to go back to see Bob. By that time I was completed rest and we headed back down to the hotel. By the time we reached the bottom we were completely soaked. I went and took a shower and rested. The conference room was made of a game room and had two Ping Pong tables, so Dawn, Mr. Liang and I played Ping Pong before having dinner. Because the staff that was to give the performance was still working at the hotel jobs, we had to wait until 10:00P.M. It was a very good show, but it only lasted for about 25 minutes. There were only 14 staff, and 8 of them showed up at the stage. There was lots of audience participation. Mr. Liang invited us to the bonfire celebration. We thought it was too late and just called it a night.
05-02 During the discussions with my friend he kept saying the "president" was going to stay at the resort for the weekend. The "president" was the name they call the Chairperson of an important National committee. In this case it was the Ministry of Finance and Land Acquisitions. At breakfast we were ushered into the private dinning room. There were a few people sitting around the table. We took our seats. As I sat there and -looked around I recognized a few of the people as people who I had seen around the hotel. There were a few new faces and I began to wonder maybe one of these gentlemen was the president. After a while we were introduced and yes a very mild mannered man sitting across from me was the president. Next to him sat a gentleman from Japan. The president had not showed up till now because he had been golfing at the capital, Nanning. The Japanese gentleman was the owner of a golf designing company and was accompanying the president looking at possible spots for new golf courses. The president really likes to play golf. After breakfast we all walked down to the boat. My personal guide the history expert came along to explain everything. The president had his own guide, a local. On the boat his guide began to explain a few of the things but shortly my guide was recognized as the expert and was asked to take over. Everyone wanted to get their picture taken with the president. And the president wanted to get his picture taken with me.
In no time at all he was telling me to call him George. The boat arrived at our destination, a cliff hundreds of feet high coming out of the river. The cliff's flat surface was a natural canvas for hundreds of pictures of people and animals. We were told they were made over 2000 years ago and they are not sure why. Many theories were bounced around.
They were doing some testing on the cliff surface so parts of the paintings were covered up. They are trying to figure out a way to help preserve the works. It seems that the moisture from the cliff is seeping out from behind the paintings and will destroy them.
It was still early to have lunch after we came back from our trip.
We walked around a little bit in the village. Actually, we were still full from breakfast. When the General Manager Mr. Wei called us for lunch, we knew we had to eat again. The president wanted to have his last meal with us before leaving. We had a great conversation mostly about his education in England and his hope to have more golf courses in China especially Guangxi Province where he is from. I could tell the Japanese gentleman was very happy to hear that. At one point we were served lizard meat.
I could tell because they had two skinned lizards laid out on top. The Japanese gentleman (who spoke some English) and I dared each other to try it. So I did. It was very good but he was braver than me he actually ate the lizard's tail. Then he decided to try some of the local chili. It was so hot he had to run out of the room to get relief. Everyone had a good laugh and a great lunch once again made up of foods from all over Asia made with a Chinese flair. After lunch we said goodbye to the president, then as he was leaving he saw us again and we said goodbye again. Then we saw him again this time we decided to go and hide till his group left or these goodbyes would last till dinner. So we decided to explore more the ground of the resort. We played pool and Ping Pong today. The funny part was a boy of 6 there who didn't really know how to play pool himself, but he would coach us on which balls to shoot at. Then a little girl kept taking the balls out of the pockets and put them back on the table near the pockets. I guess that she was trying to help us. Mr. Liang joined us to play Ping Pong again. A moment later, the General Manger came in and played a few games. It seems once again we were the only guests in the entire resort. So, he had lots of time to spend with us.
At dinner, we met a couple from the north of China. I suppose that too much food for a few people, so the general manager invited them to dinner with us. They gave lots of good suggestions on how to make the village better. They both were teachers. The lady was also a calligrapher. This was the last day in the resort.
05-03-09 Sunny and hot
We headed back to Yangshuo. On the way back, we were asked to take the history expert's son to school in Nanning. The boy was about 15 and spoke some English. I might be the first foreigner he had talked with in his life. He had an unbelievable knowledge of geography. I could name any country in the world and he could give me the capital. We got back to Yangshuo after dark and checked Mr. Liang into a hotel nearby. After he settled in, we all went out to dinner. It was nice to be back to Yangshuo. A friend was leaving for home so we went to the local candy store and bought them some local treats.
We also got some for Mr. Liang of all his wonderful hosting on our trip.
05-04-09 Sunny and hot
We had a busy day today. We were invited to visit a town called Xinping and see some potential investment properties. On the way, we picked up a friend of Mr. Liang's who was an officer for People's Bank. First, we stopped at a little riverside café for lunch. It turned out the owner was one of the village officials. His wife offered some of her signature dishes.
He got homemade wine for us. The wine was made from wild grapes. He stored the wine in a big ceramic pot. He usually made about 400 gallons a year just for treating guests.
After our wonderful lunch, he took us for a walk to show us all the new developments the villagers had done to improve access to more tourists. The villagers are thinking of changing the name of the village.
The original name came from two crows living in a rock at the middle of the village but they are gone now and they want to have a more appealing name.
One feature is that this village is the location of where the picture from their 20 yuan bill is from. Then we headed into the hills behind the village. He wanted to show us some of the potential sites for a resort hotel. While walking around, he picked up a handful of wild mushrooms called chestnut mushrooms, because they were grown under the chestnut trees. The setting was wonderful trees, hillside, fields of rice and other vegetables and off in the distance the karst and Li river.
From time to time he would say here is a great place for you to build a fine house. I thank our host for the lunch and showing us his villages plans. We headed back to Yangshuo on the way we had one more stop to make. The famous Lotus caves. I had been there on my first trip here but they wanted to show me something more. There was about 40 acres for sales around and including the caves they thought it would make a great resort. I agreed but was really not interested in it.
It was late by the time we got back to Yangshuo. Another adventure, another day in China.