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Published: April 9th 2010
Day 131: Wednesday, April 7th, 2010.
Cat Ba, Vietnam to Hua Shan, China.
Per Intrepid Notes, "Days 13-14 Hua Shan
On day 13 we again board a chartered boat for a direct transfer back to Bai Chay, then onto a private bus for a drive to the border of China (approx. 6 hours). Be prepared for some long waits at the Friendship Gate border crossing into China. We then travel on by bus via Pingxiang and Ningming to Hua Shan (approx. 1 hour). We spend two nights in a charming guesthouse, set near a little village of wooden Dong and Zhuang-style houses. Quiet and isolated, this is a great base for uninterrupted explorations of the magnificent mountain scenery. On the day 14 we meet with a local guide and explore the local villages and countryside by foot. There is also an option to board a riverboat up the Zuo River to explore the magnificent karst scenery and prehistoric rock paintings."
Not a fun day. Could have been worse, but not fun. Judy and myself were on the 4th floor waiting for the elevator when it arrived. Dick was still in the room so Judy told me to go ahead
so I got in, pushed "Lobby" and the doors closed. Then the power went out. The elevator did a shaking/lurch ting for about 30 seconds while I called out "JUDY! Tell them I'm in here!!" Then the doors opened. Son of a !!!! I took the stairs.
We took a public bus about an hour to the docks where we got onto a water taxi that I immediately thought of as "the Water Taxi of Death". This boat did not look trustworthy. So, after piling our bags onto the open deck in the back, we all crammed inside the cabin area which held quite a few people. This ride lasted about an hour and for that hour I watched the tiny red ants scurry across the headset of the seat in front of me. I tried to convince myself that that was the only seat with the issue, I'm sure mine was clean. That's when the twitching started. We arrive and grab our luggage and go up the worst walking ramp in the world to our next awaiting chariot, a mini van. We toss our stuff in and settle down for a 6 hour drive.
Around hour 3,
we stop for lunch at typical (for this country) rest area. Except there isn't a bunch of crap, er stuff, to buy. Just food which is a nice change. I go to use the bathroom and while I'm thankful that I haven't encountered squatter toilets (yet), I'm taken back by the stalls. The walls and swinging door of the stalls are all about 4 feet tall. So, as you walk by, you can look in and make friends if you so desire. I find a stall at the end (no friends for me, thanks anyway), alcohol swab the seat down and sit down. My knees touch the swinging door so I hold onto the door to keep it closed. I pass on eating (I'm not letting myself eat until night anymore, tired of getting sick on the road) and soon we are back on the road.
About an hour later we reach the border and say goodbye to our driver who I unintentionally gave a shitty tip too- sorry! Cars aren't allowed near the border so we get into a golf cart and we're taken up to the administration building. 30 minutes later, we're out of there and we're
all official and welcomed into China. We walk about 100 yards where we're swarmed by people wanting to take us in taxis' and Ling finds our driver and our new mini van. We get in and about 2 hours later we arrive at our homestay in Hua Shan (so it was a 10 hour travel day- ugh).
This place really puts me in a foul mood and has me consulting my Intrepid Notes. This is an "Original style" trip which means there is one trip above us, "Comfort" which goes for nice hotels and two trips below us "Basic" and "Camping" that go for crappier hotels. If this is a so-so hotel and considered good for "Original", I am guessing the "Basic" and "Camping" Intrepiders would be sleeping in the field. The sheets and comforter are clean, so I'm happy over that. But as I turn on our bedroom light, a gecko goes racing from the room. Okay, I can handle those- they're everywhere. However, the giant spider on the door and the bathroom doesn't please me. The shower is run by a gas water pump so you hear the flame kick on and off as you quickly shower
(and we've been asked to leave the door to our bungalow open when we shower so that we don't die from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.) We're in the middle of nowhere so we rely on the "homestay" for our food and they make a very nice home cooked meal. Unfortunately I'm so wigged out over the bugs flying all around me and crawling everywhere that I can't really enjoy it. Judy sips on an equivalent to Vodka to help her thru the night and I pop two Lorazepams. If i'm unconscious, maybe I won't notice my surroundings. To add to my unhappiness, something is wrong with either the electrical cord to my laptop or my laptops battery. I'm not sure if I can continue to use it and need a Apple store which I won't find until I get to Hong Kong (about 10 days from now). Grrrr.
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