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Published: September 30th 2008
In the Airport
Us goofing around in the airport
All lights were out in the compound, yet I was already up doing last minute checks through my 70 liter bag for sufficient changes of underwear. I scrutinized at the checklist, saying 'check' to myself repetitively. At 7: 45 I was supposed to meet a friend of mine downstairs to leave for the airport together. Thank god I didn’t bring my bag downstairs, because I waited 15 minutes in fresh morning cold for her. It was 8 o’clock when I finally bade goodbye to dad and scrambled into the car. My mood certainly did not improve knowing it was not my fault that we were going to be late. I hated being late, because I was so well known for my punctuality.
When we arrived at the Guangzhou Baiyun airport (needlessly to say- late), it was easy to spot our fellow travelers: the huddle of enthusiastic kids and anxious parents drew the attention of the whole airport. An air of excitement hung around the Grade 9s as I quietly slipped into the crowd trying to look like I’ve been there all along, of course that didn’t help because I had to register myself with my camp supervisor. Tears were shed
Boys asleep on the bus
and tantrums were thrown, steadily the tide of parents ebbed away. Some kept coming back for a last kiss, last hug, and then another kiss. Thank god my dad wanted his sleep, what a total embarrassment. Gradually the only adults left standing were 6 brave teachers who would have to be our surrogate parents for the next 5 days. God bless their soul.
After going through the normal airport security checks, I was disappointed once again that the metal detector didn't go off. In most days, waiting for a flight would be a total bore, but not when you have 40 screaming kids who are living like there’s no tomorrow. Though they were probably right, based on past experience, the airport would be luxury! One would have thought we were hyperactive on the plane too, but we were supposed to act like responsible and mature citizens, therefore most merely tried to make up for the missed sleeping hours of the previous night. I, myself squirmed and struggled in the China Eastern Economy class straight back seats.
On arriving in Guiyang, after 2 hours of struggling, we were glad to find the temperature pleasantly mild; it was not the
The village we visited
minus 15 degrees we were threatened with. We met up with the second half of our surrogate parents: ChinaClimb guides.They gave us the usual pep talk outside the baggage claim. The group got split up into two smaller ones to board 2 ancient buses and were deposited with our lunch. I didn’t know which better, economic class food or this? The lunch package comprised of a soggy sandwich with eggs and cucumber, and a banana that looked like it’s been sitting inside the fuming bus for at least a week. There were however some soda biscuits, wafer bars and lollipops, which were quite edible.
We spent all of the afternoon on the bus to Anshun to learn about the local culture, and to get closer to our hiking start point. Fatigue reached pandemic; heads bobbed up and down with the bus, occasionally colliding with the person sitting next. There was not much of a view to enjoy, mainly deforested hills and mounds of dirt. It was only when we arrived, that we found out our fellow bus broke down due to gas explosion. Wild images of the ruins of the explosions swam into my vision. Whispers were exchanged anxiously
Boys participating in Archery in the ancient village
around the group. Just as I started to invent further details of the wreckage; I had to find out that everyone was alright. What a shame.
The village in Anshun was like any other Chinese village with a long history: cobbled allies, water gullies flowing through,open markets selling local crafts and dressed up local Minorities. Everyone explored the ancient village together with the survivors of that non-existing highway buildup and watched its famous opera. Many boys engaged themselves in archery (or rather showed off), 10 kuai for 10 shots, pretty good bargain. Girls immersed themselves in small Miao Minority gadgets. The village has rather lost its taste because it has become so industrialized like Lijiang. Mr. Name-withdrawn was buying trinkets for his girlfriend, and kept asking us for advice. We all felt rather sorry for his girlfriend.
That night we accommodated in a simple hotel an hour and half away from the village (Oh yes, more bus rides. We had a turntable family style Chinese dinner. People were dared to eat a suspicious plate of slimy vegetables. After stuffing ourselves with as much rice as we could, we got a pep talk again. The itinerary for the following
Trying to take photos as well as buying jingles
days were briefed, which wiped the smiles off many faces. I handed over my ridiculously expensive sleeping bag tin exchange for a titanic sized heavy-as-lead one. Apparently up in the mountains the temperature would drop below zero, and my sleeping bag was not adequate. There was quite a squabble about room partners which could have well turned into cat fights if it wasn't for the watchful eye of the teachers. As for myself, I was rather content to be with my friends Lena and Div. And the room? it was simply furnished therefore not at all sound proof It was a sad to have to repack everything to give room for my new sleeping bag. I thought today was perhaps not very productive, we didn't accomplish much except get our ass here to Guizhou. I was SO tired of curling up my legs in bus seats and airplanes.
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