After many years of socialism under the communist system, everyone has suddenly become an entrepreneur. The bird has been set free, however nobody has told him the rules of flight. The feast he has not been able to have for so many years is suddenly becoming available, and it's an all out contest to get his share.? As we wonder thru the streets, last decade’s peasant farmers that are now on the front lines of a whole new economic system.? Weather you want it or not, everything is for sale. The question is never "Do you want this worthless thing?" but always "How much will you pay for this worthless thing?"
From the tourist level, it appears the whole country is clamoring to survive, when in reality the forces driving this country are at a whole different level.? There is a huge poor element in China, then another larger, not quite so poor class. It seems the poor peasant farmer is in a separate world, growing their crops and livestock, carrying it to the market on sticks across their shoulders, where they squat down in a place so dirty I wouldn't use it as a garage.? Here the two lower classes merge together daily, exchanging goods, as one cannot survive without the other.
Everywhere there are signs of new construction, however we're not sure there's a plan. The methods border on being primitive, but many of the results are impressive.
As we gazed out across the rooftops of the city from our apartment, both Roy and I wondered why these old roofs, in obvious need of repair, don't leak.? It rained heavy that night and as we walked downstairs amongst the many buckets and mops the next morning, our question was answered.? It would be best described as a controlled flood. They have lived in old buildings in need of repair for years, and they just accept it.? Fixing the leaking building won't bring in any more money, and the inconvenience is an accepted way of life.
As we came down the river, we viewed the beauty of the mountains covered with thick foliage rising straight up. A lush green covers everything, as the Li River winds through these mountains. This river looks cleaner than most, and it was nice to see it's banks without liter and garbage. Water buffalo meander in the river as ducks float by unaffected by the flotillas of tourist's ferries passing by.
Along the banks are homes, usually very old in very poor condition, and many times I noticed mama talking on a cell phone.
Last night we watched fishermen on bamboo rafts take their comate birds out fishing.? With a rope around his neck, the birds dive for fish, then they cough up their catch as the fisherman squeezes the birds neck.
Today we went through the market. Everything that walked, crawled, swam or grew is available. Chickens to dogs, snakes to rats, alive (fresh) or dead (partly butchered).? The stench was beyond description.? The place was filled with shoppers picking up tonight's meal including us as we took a local cooking class.
To say this country is different is an understatement of the highest order. The Chinese are on a new course, however the direction is not clear. New technology is springing up, but is the population ready?? It appears that millions will be left behind, while some of the entrepreneurs will forge ahead.
Tomorrow we head for the Lengshen rice terraces, then off to Guilin and Chengdu.
We are now back in Guilin after few days in Yangshuo and Longshen . When we arrived in Guilin the first time we were met outside of baggage by a young girl claiming to have a taxi. After wheeling and dealing we followed her to her car, where her husband was waiting. We got into the car having blind faith, turns out she was a tour guide but didn't drive, hence her husband. We struck a deal for a guided tour the next day, she took us all over including a traditional Chinese noodle breakfast which Mike & I shared not knowing exactly what we were getting boy, you should have seen us work our magic with chopsticks... We are now better but still need more practice,? lunch of soup with some sort of weed from the river, steamed fish with the head attached? vegetables and rice, thank god for the rice. You haven't experienced anything until you’ve had lunch with the Chinese, slurping, sucking and smacking very appetizing...
We left Guilin for Yangshuo where we met up with Roy & Ann. Yangshuo is a beautiful small area south of Guilin by 3-4 hours surrounded by the most spectacular mountains.? We walked the town, took a cooking class, saw the cormorant birds fish & got eaten alive by mosquitoes. Before the cooking class our instructor took us to the open market where everything is fresh, fish, chickens, snakes, rats and even dogs, yes it's true. I happened to make a wrong turn only to find a butchered headless dog being washed up before being cut into pieces needless to say this was very disturbing. We purchased our food and went back to prepare everything - we had a great time.
We all had planned to go for a countryside bike ride that day, but was rained out. After three days in Yangshuo we left for Longshen a Pinan village 3 1/2 hours out of Yangshou past Guilin. Upon arrival we were met by a crowed of locals wheeling & dealing to carry your luggage on their backs up a very long & steep climb. We were told it would be 10 Yuan, approx. 70 cents, of course they wanted 20 Yuan, well guess who didn't pay - that's right Michael, I started to carry my bag and soon found it worth more than the 20 they wanted but we settled on 15, boy was it worth it... carrying myself up hill was a job in itself. We all gave Mike a bad time but he stood strong and said? it was ''the principle.''
Longshen is well know for it's rice terraces.? To get to the terraces you hike more steep hills, the view is unbelievable. The next morning we hiked to another terrace where on the way we were met by a group of local women called the Longhairs of Pinan Village, they went you to take a picture with them for I don't know how many Yuan, they are very persistent as they followed and guided us up the hill once at the top they continue to try and get the picture taken and also pedal local items, then they follow you back down this wouldn't have been so bad but they insisted on helping you which I didn't like. We were on a very arrow trail up the side of the mountain with no railing.
We are now back in Guilin, took a beautiful night boat ride, tomorrow we head for Chengdu, I hope we find it as pleasant as Guilin, Yangshuo & Longshen.