Alriiiiiight, I’m finally finishing my account of my three weeks in China. From Guilin, we caught a bus to Fenghuang Gucheng, a destination I’d never heard of, but is apparently a very popular tourist destination(for Chinese people) in China (thaaaaat most people go to by tour bus apparently because I think we were the only two people on that six-hour bus and there was only one bus leaving Guilin to go there each day).
We had to walk a long way from the bus station to find our hostel and got lost a couple of times, but we finally found our hostel. Now, this hostel is easily the shadiest and least appealing hostel I’ve ever stayed in(it wouldn’t be exaggerating to say this place was kind of a shit-hole). We rented a small room in basically the back of a karaoke bar. While it was right in the middle of the action and right on the water (as you can tell by the picture, Fenghuang is famous for its riverwalk)….it was right in the middle of the action and right on the water. The bar made a ton of noise and our room was overlooking a busy street with a lot of other nightclubs, street vendors, etc., so it’s a good thing we aren’t light sleepers. The beds were hard(like, I’m sleeping on a plank of wood hard), we had to pay extra for any air conditioning, and the bathroom…*shudders* Let’s just say I didn’t realize that a toilet and a shower drain could be one and the same. This place didn’t ruin our experience in Fenghuang by any means, but man it was nasty.
Alright, complaining over.
Fenghuang is by far the most touristy city I have ever been to. I wonder if anyone actually lives there. I only saw two other western tourists in my 4…5? days there, but judging by all of the street vendors and hawkers, at least 70-80% of the people I saw walking the streets must have been tourists. Speaking of which, it was kind of cramped, but I thought the streets of Fenghuang were really awesome. There were a few wide avenues that cars could navigate, but the vast majority of them were like thin little stone alleyways with tunnels and stairs (I was always too busy getting smushed to take pictures unfortunately xp) and food and souvenir vendors packed into every square inch along them. Some went along the river, and it was beautiful (mosquitoes were plentiful of course, but not noticeably worse than anywhere else I went in China).
We didn’t do anything special in Fenghuang really, we mostly just walked the streets trying food and exploring (partly because it was so hot that we spent a decent amount of time in the hostel despite it being nasty xp). Night was the best with crazy music and the river is beautiful at night. The good part about our hostel being crazy loud anyway is that we could loudly sing along to the songs they were playing outside on the street and no one cared, so we had great freestyle karaoke in our room some nights xD (I’ve learned that apparently very few good Cantonese songs have come out since the 80s, so they play the same like 15 everywhere you go. I got okay at singing a few, even if Qian laughed at my accent xp).
I just had to share this Engrish I saw there. There were more signs like this that said the same thing in Chinese, but the English was always different. I wish I’d taken pictures of more than one. xp
I did however drink the tap water here (which is a no no in China, but I asked Qian and he said it was okay….we later discovered that he hadn’t understood my question) which may have led to my….issues in our next big city.
Anyway, next we took a 5-hour bus to Changsha (the nearest city with an airport) and spent 2 nights there. We didn’t do much, but we played hide and seek at a park nearby (I won xp), ate at Pizza Hut (which is apparently the Chinese equivalent of P.F. Chang’s; seriously, we had a waiter come and cut our pizza for us….and they only offered like 4 pizzas; the majority of the THICK TABBED MENU was pasta and steak O.o), and went to see a movie. Qian thought it was going to have English subtitles (not sure why…), but when it didn’t, we left the theater and went to watch the screening of Zootopia with Chinese subtitles they were having outside the mall (sitting on itty bitty plastic chairs with the rest of the small children xD). For real though, those unexpected activities are the beeeeest. 😀
Then we flew to Dali, my most anticipated city of this whole trip. Dali is fairly close (relatively) to Myanmar, so it has veeeery different culture to the rest of China. It’s much drier and colder there as well, so it felt more like Colorado to me (yay, mountains! And actual temperature variation, YESSSSSS). It was beautiful, the temples were gorgeous, the weather was great, we got to ride on a double bicycle (I’ll explain later…).
Buuuuut, now we get to why this post has the title that it does. While in Dali, we managed to catch possibly every ailment under the sun. Probably something to do with that little water mishap….To spare you the details, I’ll just say that we were very weak and taking turns in the bathroom for various reasons. I really really liked Dali with its awesome architecture, buses (yes, I liked the buses; they were cool, okay? Kinda reminded me of the streetcars in Nagasaki), and streets (streets for just walking with street vendors and streets for cars and buses with a small waterway running down both sides), but I think that city hated me.
After a day or two staying inside to recover, we decided we still needed to see stuff, so we went out (in hindsight very glad we went out and took pictures and stuff, but man we were miserable). We saw the three pagodas of Dali (what it’s most famous for, tourism-wise) and we rode this double bicycle thing to a lake a few kilometers away. Oh, and Qian made I think my favorite English mistake I’ve ever heard. He said “Look at all those terrorists!” when we went to see the pagodas. Oh my god, I was laughing so hard. He fixed it to “tourists” like he meant, but it was too late, I was gone xD.
The bicycles weren’t like you’d expect; this contraption was build like a man-powered, very slow car. Qian decided he’d drive…until he nearly drove us straight into oncoming traffic. He said it was really hard, but miraculously, once I took the wheel, we were suddenly capable of going in a straight line. Turns out, he’s better at bicycles, but since this thing was built like a four-wheeler, I was far more qualified (he’s never driven a car before). On the way back, he steered us for a while, but after nearly hitting a couple of old ladies and then nearly driving into the ditch, I figured it was safer if I drove. xD
I didn’t fully recover from being sick until we got to Thailand, but that’s a tale for another day. 😉