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Published: March 16th 2007
The bus was about two-thirds full and the ride to the border was quite comfortable. When we reached the border, the sun was out and it was starting to get quite warm outside. The bus company gave us all little neck tags to wear as we went through customs, and we grabbed our bags and headed inside the Vietnamese side of things. I had to send my bags through an x-ray machine, but there weren't any problems and aside from having to pay 2000 dong for another "health inspection", leaving Vietnam was painless.
We walked a couple hundred meters to the massive, modern Chinese immigration building, where it took some time to find the proper immigration forms in english. I filled them out and was quickly waved through the "food products" desk while some poor Vietnamese woman had to play 20 questions with a stern looking Chinese official. I waited for a few minutes in line at the actual immigration desk before being admitted and I was officially in China!
We had to wait for about 30 minutes for everyone from the bus to clear customs, and then we piled into a different bus. The new bus was some sort of luxery model with only three seats per aisle. By this time I was convinced that the $20 bus ticket was really worth it. The drive to Nanning took a couple of hours on brand-new freeways that wouldn't have looked out of place in europe or the US, aside from the fact that there was almost no traffic.
We arrived in Nanning in the late afternoon, and I headed to the train station along with an english guy and a czech girl. The english guy wasn't able to get a ticket because everything to Hong Kong was full, but I got one for Guilin. We said goodbye to the czech girl and then the two of us headed off to find him a bus ticket to Hong Kong. The english guy managed to get that settled, and then we went looking for a place for me to spend the night. We found the hotel listed in the lonely planet, but I ended up having to pay 100 yuan ($12) for a room because all the cheap stuff was full. To their credit, it was an amazing room for $12 so I guess it was a nice treat.
With accomodation settled, we went to find an atm so I could get some cash and then find food. I tried four different banks with each refusing my card until we found the bank of china which was happy to serve me (thankfully). It's a good thing that bank of china is pretty common throughout china, or I might have trouble getting cash otherwise.
We found a really local place to eat dinner, where we just pointed at what another person was eating. What had looked like beef under a cursory inspection turned out to be some sort of mystery meat. I suspected dog, but after consulting some people that have lived in China for a while it probably was beef, but something from the inside of the cow...Regardless, it was delicious and we savored the food before heading off to find internet access and a supermarket.
The english guy left around 7 to catch his bus, and I spent the evening reading before turning in early.
That's it for my first night in China, stay tuned for Guilin.
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