This Dragon Drives a Ferrari

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December 9th 2006
Published: December 9th 2006
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Guangzhou Garden HotelGuangzhou Garden HotelGuangzhou Garden Hotel

Lobby of Garden Hotel
After clearing the passport control area between Hong Kong and the mainland (this is one very busy place) I made my way to find an ATM. None to be found. I ran into a friendly bus station attendant who spoke English, and he said that I needed to go to the Bank of China building. Hard be believe, but there was not a single ATM to be had right across from the Hong Kong border crossing. China and I were off to a bad start. Once I reached the building, having passed many offers for a 'massage', I found the bank. I lined up for the ATM, and noticed that lots of people where printing statements from it. When I got upto it, there was not place for the money to come out. Which would make putting my pin in counterproductive. I lined up for the teller to see what could be done. But the kind police officer took me by the arm and lead me around the corner to a side area where they had two machines. I tell you, nothing sounds better than crisp bills being readied for you. I have US cash and checks just in case, but it is always great having local currency. I was then able to get on the bus over to Guangzhou.

I did not have any photocopies for Guangzhou from the guidebook, so my arrival was going be interesting. All I wanted was to switch buses to get over to Guilin, but I was deposited over at the Garden Hotel, which did not have any buses connecting from it. It is the nicest hotel in the city, a 5 Star establishment with a United Airlines counter to boot. I figured help couldn't be far away. I was right. The Concierge at the hotel hooked me up with map and directions to a book store. I figured that maybe I should acquire an English guidebook afterall. I only had about 20 pages, so I thought I might need to get the real thing. The concierge was from Kunming, and was so excited that I was going there, she also recommended that I spend some time over in Liejing. She said that it was the best place in China. I have gotten over feeling intimidated in 5 star establishments just because I am dressed like a backpacker. When getting oriented in the hotel,

The guy who helped me buy my ticketThe guy who helped me buy my ticketThe guy who helped me buy my ticket

Ken works in Cargo sales, but took time to help me get on my way
I one of the Barhops that that some classy luggage belonged to me, and started following me with it. I guess I didn't look that bad. Along the way to the bookstore, I walked passed a Ferrari dealership, a Porche dealership, and a Bentley dealership. Aside from being the hub for China Southern Airlines, this city has some cash to throw around as well. I picked up some street food for 2 yuan, and I have to say, looking at Ferrari's while eating .25 cent meals is a fantastic thing.

I arrived at the bookstore to find out that it was a huge complex of many different bookstores, but the only English guidebook they had was Frommers. I checked it out anyway, and it proved to be as expected: useless. Oh well, in the process, I chatted with a local shopping at the English book store, and she thought that what I had with me would be fine. So, I walked back accross the city to the train station that had buses going to Guilin. As I spent some time there, I noticed that they have lots of African people there. I hadn't expected that. As I was nearing

the station, I stopped and asked a police officer for clarifications on the directions. Does it show that I am hopeless in this country? Anyway, I had the help, and in the process a young sales associate in the cargo business struck up a conversation with me. He guided me to the bus depot, and helped me with the ticket purchase. I am usually weary of the 'helpers' one can run into, but this guy was straight up and was really a super help. I got situated, and offered to buy him a cup of coffee while I waited. The good Samaritan declined and he departed. Since the bus did not leave for the 10 hour journey until 8:30pm, I had two hours to kill in the station. There was a good mix of about 100 soldiers and about 400 civilians waiting for various buses. Only Chinese on the announcement board , so I was glad I had been told what time to get ready. It was an interesting wait. Putting it nicely, the Chinese don't share the Japanese affinity for cleanliness. I was about 6 feet away from a garbage can, and several times parents of toddlers came by, and held their kid over the can to take a pee. There were free restrooms, but I guess the can worked for them. I also noticed that the Chinese will spit just about everywhere, and since they use their rubbish bins to piss in, they throw their garbage all over. I was in the 'non-smoking' section, and people were smoking all around me. oh well. When it came time to leave, I went up to someone who looked like station staff with my ticket, and she wrote down the gate number on the back. I settled in for the overnight ride and the fun things to come in the morning.

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9th December 2006

missed you Wednesday
My bro Jason from HK emailed from Beijing that they had a global filter on the internet, so I'm not surprised that even the most innocuous contents may not be found on the web. May He bless your time there.

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