Friday, May 02, 2008

Day 13 – Ping An

More walking
I followed the narrow stone path out to some of the remoter paddies and down to the next village in the valley. Just head off on the network of stone paths and you’ll find yourself alone with just the occasional farmer and water buffalo. The countryside is stunning with not a vehicle or even bicycle in sight. Wooden family houses, built with not a single nail, woods, pavilion bridges over streams and even birdsong.

Out on the Dragon’s head I stopped to take a picture of an old woman who shrieked with joy when I showed her the digital image on the back of the camera.

Trudging back down the mountain with our bags, a few succumbed to the 20 Yuan porters. We flew from Guilin to Beijing was its usual smoggy self

Hard beds
I did, eventually, get used to hard beds in China. Rural houses, had flat board beds, heated from beneath during the winter, this idea has clung on and you’re likely to experience some snooker table surfaces on your travels. Hotels are fine but some have the rather clichéd pianist in the foyer, something I think has died out in the west.

Airlines – staff – bow
Chinese airports are full of new aircraft as air travel, especially domestic, has boomed. On board there’s a calm politeness from the cabin crew. They stand in a triangle before take-off and bow one by one, repeating the performance before landing. Even provincial airports are gleaming new structures.

Beijing was its usual smoggy self. We drove even closer by the CCTV building. The closer you get the uglier it seems. Later that evening the heavens opened and Beijing was surely glad of some cleansing rain.