Sunday, June 29, 2014

Forced Relaxation in Pingxiang-6/21--22

The Vietnam border is just 12kms away, but yet so far for me as I wake up after a good night's sleep. I headed down to the breakfast buffet and enjoyed a soup bowl of noodles, chicken, lettuce, cilantro, mint and some chili paste along with some dumplngs with unknown ingredients. I had three cups of instant 3 in 1 coffee---coffee, milk and sugar--some beet and carrot juice along with two fried eggs. It was quite a challenge eating the eggs with my chopsticks.

Here is what the train station looks like in the morning beyond the local market overflow.

The hotel had arranged a taxi for me to ride downtown to the Bank of China that would cost me 40 RMB round trip for the 6 kms ride down and back. I was just planning to jump on one of the many buses for 2 RMB, but since they went to this trouble I didn't want them to lose face. I got the ride and found an ATM that worked, but the cabbie wanted to charge me another 5 RMB for the ride. I just gave him the 40 RMB and went into the hotel. He then drove off.
Since I had nothing else planned, I decided to just start walking south for a while. As I reached the outskirts of town, I first passed lots of wood furniture stores followed by the furniture factories with the smells of fresh cut woods mingled with paint and stain odors. I noticed that bus no. 2 was traveling this road toward the Friendship Pass. After walking about 2 hours and six miles a fellow on a motor bike offered me a ride. Why not?
As we came to a split in the road, I thought we were headed in the wrong direction, but he kept going and we rode through two border checkpoints without stopping. He then let me off with no charge for the drive and I saw where the no. 2 buses had finished their run and were cued up for the return. I continued on down to where the immigration officials were, and they said this crossing was not for me. It did not look like the pictures I have seen of the Friendship Pass. I had him write out in script where I was suppose to be. When I looked at the script he gave me, it resembled the script the Lonely Planet guide shows for the Friendship Pass. I underlined it to make sure I would show it to the hotel staff right side up as confirmation.
At that point I decided to have a bite of food at a street side cafeteria where I could just point out the food I wanted. It was an OK lunch, but it seems like they like lots of bones and fat with their meat. After lunch I got on a return no. 2 bus. After we got about halfway back, the engine died so we all piled in the next bus, filling it to the gills.
The Sunday market was going full force so I began walking through to check out what they were offering. I guess I was a real oddity for them. They also enjoyed seeing themselves on my iPad. Since my Panasonic Camcorder broke during my rough road trip in Mongolia, the only video I have been able to take is with my iPad. I am hoping that this will be OK for when I get around to doing a video of my "Great Train Adventure".

My cook is preparing my dinner of stir fry meat?, green beans, garlic, tomatos, onions, along with other stuff served with watery soup and a huge portion of rice along with a large beer for just 23 RMB----a lot less than any of my Beijing meals.

The butcher's wife is pulling his ear---a form of Chinese endearment.
Lots of smokers in China and they can do it in the restaurants, but not in the train or buses.
The smoker wanted me to "date" this butcher. I think he was actually very fond of her though.
She was offering me a good deal on some beautiful eggplants while her granddaughter got the shys when she saw me and immediately hid behind her mother.



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