Also in downtown Nanning, the locals were busily playing cards, chess and other gambling amusement. I stopped at a crowd of several Chinese interested in an unusual contest. A guy sitting on his honkers throwing 6 inch orange plastic hoops with one hand at a large plastic gold-colored up-ended plastic piggy bank. He kept on missing the pig after at least a round of throwing. A man standing next to the kneeling contestant encouraged the crowd to part with its money – 100 yuan each. If the contestant succeeded in getting a hoop to land around the pig’s tail, little more than a large round nipple, he’d take all the money as winning. If he lost, the crowd would keep all of its money.
Chinese tend to be overtly noisy. A heated argument erupted between the standing man, who was goading the crowd to part with the cash, and the contestant over tactics. All the money was put into a brown wallet-like purse.
The man, after a few further attempts, threw two hoops together which, lo and behold, landed on the pig’s back-end. The guy immediately snatched his winnings and muttered something like a spoilt child and stormed down the street without so much as a by-your-leave, nod, a wink, or a thank you, except a ‘I should think so’ attitude accompanied his stride. Such are the joys of Chinese disputation, usually heated, and never more fully engaged than in a gambling contest.
On the way back to the hostel, I met a Chinese waif and stray, who’d been staying there, munching a greasy muffin from a paper bag. He was walking to the train station.
“Where are you headed?” I asked.
“Where is it?’
“Half way between here and Shanghai, I wanted to go to Vietnam but the f**king consulate was closed.”
“Sorry to hear it. You must have applied at the wrong time. It’s difficult to get a bed, isn’t it?”
“Yes, I know. I’ve slept on newspaper before because there were no seats.”
“Have a good trip!” I called after him as he went on munching the muffin, his eyes glaring into mine.