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2008-06-02 Nanning to Guilin

Sunday 14th February 2010

Today was the start of an adventure that I never thought I would experience.
We took the train from Nanning up to Guilin where we were met by our guide for the trip.
First stop was the famous Elephant Trunk Hill, the most famous sight in Guilin.
After that he and the driver took us to our hotel, checked us in, and went through the itinerary again with us.
In the evening we went on a boat trip around the Four Lakes. This type of sightseeing is something that we, in Britain, certainly have no idea how to set up. There is not enough room in this blog to try to convey the whole experience and the way the Chinese do things.
You really have to experience it for yourself.

Karst limestone peaks, as seen from a train, Guangxi

Karst limestone hill, as seen from a train, Guangxi

Our transport and guide (Ricky), Guilin

The promenade opposite Elephant Trunk Hill, Guilin

Elephant Trunk Hill, Guilin

A pagoda and longboat alongside Elephant Trunk Hill, Guilin

Under the Elephant's Trunk, Guilin

Sculptures in a park opposite Elephant Trunk Hill, Guilin

Sun Pagoda, Fir Lake (Shan Hu), Guilin

Glass Bridge, Banyan Lake (Rong Hu), Guilin

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2008-06-01 A busy day going nowhere

Monday 8th February 2010

On the last day before our travels began Amanda did some posing for a few photos and then we took a stroll over to the CAEXPO building across the other side of the intersection.
As we climbed the steps up from the road there was a Chinese family coming down them, and the little girl just had to try out her English on me. After lots of “Hello”‘s were exchanged a similar number of “Byeee”‘s followed as they disappeared into the distance. I have experienced a lot of those exchanges with Chinese children since, but none has been as prolonged. 🙂
The flower display workers had started their preparations for the arrival of the Olympic Flame. Many sites throughout the city were being decked out with displays of flowers (all in pots) to celebrate the occasion. I cannot imagine how many people are employed to do all this work. And what do they do the rest of the time ?

Flower display workers outside Red Forest Hotel Amanda in her qipao outside Red Forest Hotel The major column outside the Nanning People's Assembly building CAEXPO building, Nanning The hillside around the CAEXPO building, Nanning Flower display workers outside CAEXPO building, Nanning

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2008-05-31 Just hanging out in Nanning

Sunday 7th February 2010

Having been on the move almost non-stop for three days today was just a rest day; a chance for me to get my bearings, and for us to just hang out and get used to being with each other. Not much photography done; the 400 shots in a day would come later.

We went back to Amanda’s apartment for some of the time, and while we were there she suggested that I might like to take a trip to go and see some of the countryside. “Okay”, I said. So she got on the phone to a travel agency she uses, and the next thing I knew was that on the Monday (two days from then) we would be going away for a couple of days. I knew no more !

The Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region People's Assembly building Hillside around the China-ASEAN Expo (Caexpo) in Nanning The Nanning People's Assembly building, next to the Red Forest Hotel Backlit tree outside the Red Forest Hotel

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2008-05-30 Guangzhou to Nanning

Sunday 7th February 2010

We were in for a busy day so we made an early start and I got my first, albeit rather rapid, experience of Dim Sum. Here was another love affair that was destined to go on… and on… and on… 😛

Then it was round to the Visa Application Centre to apply for Amanda’s visa so that she could come to visit me in July, and off to the airport to catch our flight to Nanning.

We stopped off briefly at Amanda’s apartment so that I could meet her daughter, Lily, and then we headed over to the Red Forest Hotel where we were supposed to be basing ourselves for the duration. As you will find out in later posts, things change.

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2008-05-29 The journey begins

Saturday 6th February 2010

29th May 2008 was the day I finally arrived in China to meet my beautiful Amanda, the lady who was destined to make me so happy.

It was a cloudy day as I approached Hong Kong, raining intermittently, but I was aglow with sunshine.

Amanda was waiting at the airport, wearing the outfit I had asked her to wear so that I would be sure to recognise her through the crowds. It worked ! 🙂

After a brief pant in a corner of the concourse and a few minutes of getting used to being “together” at last, we got the bus to Guangzhou where we would be applying for Amanda’s first visa the next day.

My first view of Chinese soil

My first view of Chinese soil

The clouds began to break and I caught my first ever glimpse of Chinese soil far below.

I wondered what daily life was like for the people down there, and the anticipation of all that was to come really began to hit home.

My first view of Hong Kong and the towering apartment blocks.

The sheer scale of them still gives me the creeps.

First view of Hong Kong, through the rain

First view of Hong Kong, through the rain

First live picture of Amanda, hurriedly taken at Hong Kong airport. (The picture, not Amanda !)

First live picture of Amanda, hurriedly taken at Hong Kong airport. (The picture, not Amanda !)

So we finally got to be together at last.

I suppose we were both still rather nervous, but Amanda is always such fun to be around that any nerves on my part soon melted away.

As we began to break out from Shenzhen I caught my first sight of anything agricultural.

Wherever I am I love to see the countryside, so this was very welcome after the mini-metropolis of the whole Hong Kong/Shenzhen area.

First view of agriculture, outside Shenzhen

First view of agriculture, outside Shenzhen

Taxis, downtown Guangzhou at night

Taxis, downtown Guangzhou at night

That first night in Guangzhou we went for a stroll downtown.

I got my first sample of what a Chinese city was like at night and, as Amanda reminded me today, encountered my first fruit seller at the side of the road – selling mangosteen.