“Do they pay you any money?” I asked
“I get a free bed and food. There has been talk about getting some pay but it hasn’t arrived yet.”
A Vietnamese co-worker produced my ticket for the bus back to Nanning. He also produced a map and indicated:
“You have to go to this hotel to get bus”
“Very far?” I asked
He said it was. It wasn’t.
I could have easily walked it but decided to be vicarious with most of the Vietnamese Dong. I waited for a taxi at the end of the street. The driver charged me 100,000. It should, given the distance, have been no more than about 30,000.
A couple of Chinese guys and a few other tourists were waiting for the bus in the hotel lobby. It did the same by stopping at the same restaurant where you could buy snacks. I threw the Dong away on chocolate pies and potato chips – disgusting and unhealthy.
I made fun with a friendly dog that rolled around on the dusty forecourt. It didn’t take to the potato chip I threw it.
It was a pleasant journey beside limestone outcrops cloaked in green afforestation. This area was a hive of activity during the Communist takeover of Vietnam and during the Vietnam War when supplies from China and the Soviet Union were transported in. Today, it just serves farmers, tourists and nominal traffic. The whole of this area, what with the limestone escarpments, is like Guilin and Yanghsuo in South China’s Guangxi Province.
The Chinese side of the border is much grander, roomier. What do you expect. The country’s got more capital. I was talking to a Chinese teacher yesterday who said he thought China’s lost so much of its past cultural heritage and moral traditions because of money and materialism. I couldn’t agree more.
A British guy working in Guangzhou I was sitting next to, gave me a nudge, as a military inspector got on board to carry out another passport check. “It’s jobs for the boys,” he said.
The bus sped to Nanning.
It had turned dark when the bus dropped me off, leaving me to ensuing Chinese New Year travel chaos.
I couldn’t get a train ticket to Wenzhou – sold out. There were no plane tickets for tomorrow and were a bit pricey for the day after.
I settled on the bus – 22 hours again. There was one ticket left for Wednesday the 9th.
I found the Lotusland Hostel surrounded by trees down on the left of an unlit street beside a canal. I got s dorm bed.
Too many notices were pasted here and there which usually means too many rules that usually get broken.