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Published: March 31st 2010
I left Lau Cai and walked across the bridge to the town of Hekou situated in China. I got to see Chinese bureacracy first hand. There was the temperature exam, then forms to fill out, then when I gave them my passport they kept going over it for ages as though they expected the pages to change or something. After this I was brought into another room where my bigger backpack was searched. Seemingly satisfied they told me I could put all my things back and I went out to the next area. I had to put my bag through the scanner, where another person proceeded to open it yet again and look through. This time however he seemed to have an issue with my lonely planet guidebook and I was told I couldn't have it back without any explanation. I'm guessing it had to do with something regarding the map and Tibet and Taiwan being different colours on them. FINALLY I was allowed through.
Although only a few hundred yards from Vietnam I noticed quite a few differences right off the bat. All signs were in Mandarin with no english below unlike much of the rest of south-east Asia.
I was the only foreigner around, whereas Vietnam seemed to be a well travelled place, the Chinese here kept gawking at me as though, and most likely true, they'd never seen another foreigner in a long time. Also the Chinese love to spit anywhere and everywhere and smoke like chimneys.
Some old guy stopped and started talking to me in Mandarin and I got a bit of practice using my English-Mandarin phrasebook. He motioned for me to follow him and I assumed he was going to lead me to the bus station but instead he brought me into his room and offered my some food and continued to converse with me in jargon to my ears. I hung around for a short while and then thanked him and moved on to the nearby bus station. I got a ticket to Kunming in Yunnan province and the bus left in the evening.
On the bus my stomach began to rumble and I got worried, not the best time for my bowels to decide to give out. As soon as we got to our first stop I ran off the bus and into the washroom where diarrhea erupted from me.
I felt a little better after this episode but for the next few hours I was consciously holding my buttcheeks closed while liquid crap still managed to slip through and soil my boxers. I fell asleep for a few hours and then woke up feeling a chill. The window by my sleeper bed was ajar, I closed it and then thought nothing more of the incident. However when I woke up in the morning I noticed my small bag was unzipped and my laptop was gone. I asked the passengers next to me if they'd seen anything but they all said they hadn't. I'm guessing someone robbed me by opening the window from the outside while the bus was stopped for one of the driver's breaks. It pissed me off because as I was sick I was focusing on other things than securing my baggage which is a big no-no in this part of the world.
The bus soon arrived at the eastern bus station in Kunming, and of course I had no map anymore and nobody was able to speak English, I just used my phrasebook to ask which bus brought me to the city center. I boarded
a bus and before I knew it I really had no idea where I was heading and got off and spent the next hour trying to communicate with someone to no avail. I headed into a police station and waited around for an English speaking member to show up and got her to wright me the hostel directions in Mandarin, which I then gave to a cab driver to get me there. The hostel catered to foreigners and the staff could at least speak some English which was nice. Of course I could feel the runs coming and made sure I knew where all the toilets were.
Here's hoping things soon get better in China, as I really doubt they could get much worse...
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