Bac Ha market

My last day in the Sa Pa region was a Sunday. And the reason I stayed the extra night was a big local market in Bac Ha. Pick up was suddenly way earlier and at 7:30 After I had my usual Pho for breakfast

 I was downstairs waiting for the guide. I met Marsha from the long trek in front of the hotel and the off we went, collecting other tourists along the way.

It was a three-hour ride to get to the market and once we arrived at Bac Ha it was clear that it was very popular.

Our guide led us through a side street to the market and walking there we passed the horses and the birds.

    In this busy side street was our restaurant for lunch and from here on we explored the market by ourselves.

Marsha and I walked around together and we had our first stop after two minutes to a bean drink/dessert. It’s basically ice with red beans and then all kinds of jelly, shredded and toasted coconut, peanuts and more, topped with bean juice. Very tasty!


Other impressions from the market.

                

Look at this variety of greens/herbs.

  

When we passed the fish market we saw a customer choosing a fish. So if you’re squeamish please look away.

                    

And here is one who got away. I didn’t know if we should say something but then I could see that the sales lady had already noticed the runaway. When we left the stall it was still alive.

At this market you get everything from buffalo to your next dress.

                     I tried one of these fried balls, it was not overly sweet and filled with a yellow bean paste. Yummy!

And other food stuff I didn’t try (so far).

  

Then we went back for lunch which was boring and bland after everything that we had seen at the market. So let’s just forget about it.

After lunch we stopped at a local minority village to see how the tribal families lived in the area. The house that we visited had one room, the sleeping area was quartered off by curtains but the rest was one big space in which they worked and watched tv. There was a small table, probably for the meals and homework, but only one chair.

 

 

Here child safety was not an issue.           

A short bus ride later we got off at the Hang A Tuong Palace just north of the market in Bac Ha. It was swarming with the tourists but you still see the beauty of the building. Designed by a French and Chinese architect and built according to Feng Shui guidelines, the palace was the home of the ‘Kings of the north’. Father and son from a Tay ethnic people ruled the north with a 70% H’mong share. They exploited what the could but at least the palace is still left, now for everyone to see.

      

There was a small shop in the palace where I saw an old woman weaving.

Back on the bus we made our way to Lao Cai to catch the train. One last stop in Lao Cai for all though. What I hadn’t realized when I had arrived here three days ago was how close the Chinese border was. It was just across the river.

  

After the last stop three other girls and I got off at a small hotel near the train station, shared dinner and then took the night train back to Hanoi. Yours, Pollybert

PS: The food tasted how it looked, boring and bland again.

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What I learned in China

Also already a standard feature as seen here and here. Here are the lessons I took away from China.

1. If there is a sign to ignore, the Chinese are all for it.

2. Buffet food is a feeding frenzy. Be in time or nothing is left.

3. Main course and desert can go on the same plate. I saw rice pudding put on salad, makes apparently no difference.

4. They are very friendly people and are trying to be helpful when asked. Sometimes when they talk to you they want to scam you, but as proven not always.

5. A little dictionary goes a long way. Still, learn how to say hello, thank you and beer in Chinese.

6. If you smile at their children the parents will be very friendly. Every child is a little prince or princess.

7. The Chinese metros are out of this world. In Chonqing the metro had pull down sun screens for the windows and in Shanghai I saw a metro that opened on both sides in a station. Furthermore they have at least 10 lines or more, taking you everywhere.

8. At all times (but mostly at dusk) you can suddenly come upon a group of people dancing or doing some dance routines. Either in parks or on some broad sidewalk.

10. Everyone carries brewed tea with him.

11. Young Chinese men are quite stylishly dressed. They are definitely not afraid to try a new combination.

12. The Chinese like to talk in very loud voices with each other, one can almost describe it as yelling.

13. Young women will always wear a panty hose or leggings even when it’s super hot. Babsi told me they don’t want to get any tan.

14. The Chinese boyfriend carries the handbag of his girlfriend. Even if he already carries their suitcase and her hands are empty.

15. When the weather is hot Chinese men tend to pull up their T-Shirts and caress their stomachs.

16. I have sent around 45 postcards from China, so about 4 rounds of cards. And each time my family got cards and my friends are put on rotation. I just heard from my brother that he got the first one from Shanghai (which was from the 3rd round). So let me know if you get one from any other place. I really wonder what happened to the rest of them.

The doors of China

The last couple of trips I have posted pictures of doors as seen here and here. Now when I went through my China pictures I noticed that I only had a few pictures of doors so I used some portals too. Maybe it is because I have rarely walked through residential areas except for Beijing. So it is misleading to call the post the doors of China because all doors are from Beijing. Yours, Pollybert

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Leaving China

It was not so easy to find a way out of China, there were no direct flights from Guilin to Hanoi so I had to think about where I want to stay a day. In the end I decided on Guangzhou and this was were I was going on my last day in China.

A taxi picked me up at 6:30 and without breakfast I was on the way to the airport. One last toll stationIMG_3384 and I was at the airport. The flight itself then was only for about an hour but we were still served breakfast. Really European airlines can learn something here!

Yeah, and then at shortly after 9am I arrived in Guangzhou. Not really an interesting city. But I had looked up on the internet on what was there to see. I took the metro to the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall which was on all sites the no. 1 thing to do. Upon arrival there I know why. It included also a folk arts museum with lots of little shops. The ancestry hall was beautiful though.IMG_3385IMG_3387IMG_3388IMG_3389IMG_3394IMG_3396

Of course the hall had been renovated by the Chinese so there was no telling what was original and what not.IMG_3398IMG_3399IMG_3400IMG_3402

The craft working of ivory was very beautiful and looked amazing but of course one cannot support it by buying anything. I have noticed in most of the big cities large ad campaigns against which included Prince William for e.g.
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When I left I saw a really cute police car in front of the metro station.IMG_3407

I took the metro again and the next station was already the Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street an area that had lots of craft shops, there was a street for jade work, and one for furniture, silver, fabric and so on. Really quite interesting but I was not sure what to buy since I cannot take fake jade from real one. So what is the point of getting a bracelet for a lot of money?

I needed first of all in the shopping mall right next to the pedestrian zone to get some lunch and for my last day in China I settled on Japanese.IMG_3409IMG_3410

After lunch I walked through the pedestrian zone, circled it from one end to the next. But there was really not so much to see, the heat and the humidity were awful and I didn’t really know what else to do since the shopping center was small and had no coffee shops. So I decided I would try to see the next point on the to do list, the Tian He Sports Center which is probably a sports center but when you get out of the metro you basically were surrounded by shopping malls. In this weather heavenly bliss!IMG_3411IMG_3412

I ended up walking around the underground malls for hours until it was time for another snack. Here I enjoyed a really great fruit yoghurt.
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Finally it was time to go to the airport and although my flight was delayed I was happy that I had arrived early. The leaving procedure took as long as the entering one. And that was it with China. Yours, Pollybert

Rafting on the Li River

Rafting sounds probably a lot more exciting than it actually was. Since it was already May 28th and my visa for China would expire on May 31st I had decided to just do Yangshuo in the end, then go back to Guilin and from the there on to Vietnam. Time was just too short to visit anything else, so today was my last day in Yangshuo. I checked out early in the morning because I had booked a guided rafting tour on the Li River.

While waiting at the corner of the hostel street and the main road I took a picture of the little side street. So this is where I spent three nights.IMG_3317

The finally a mini-van stopped next to me, I got on and look into 30 pairs of chances eyes. I was the only white person on the bus. And I was only one without a seat, so I had the pleasure to sit on a little platform behind the driver facing everybody else on the bus. So how best to work in a situation like this? I started with a loud Ni Hao which is always charming. And it worked, they smiled at me and I smiled back. And that was basically the most conversation I had on this trip.

At least the bus ride was not very long, about 40 minutes later we arrived in Xingping which is famous for its place on the 20 Yuan note. We got off the bus and after a short bathroom break we were divided into little groups and with two other single female travelers I was put on a boat. Far from a bamboo raft, this turned out to be a little bamboo motor boat. Which didn’t change the fact that the scenery again was stunning.IMG_3318IMG_3321IMG_3322IMG_3323IMG_3325IMG_3326IMG_3327

Interestingly enough even on this river there was police presence and they had quite the big boat. Also it was a lot faster than all the others.IMG_3332IMG_3333 Here it was speeding past us, I am sure there was an emergency further up on the river!
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More stunning scenery to come and with a couple of stops in between where you could get your picture taken by a professional (or something like it) and buy the picture immediately.IMG_3335IMG_3339IMG_3344IMG_3347IMG_3349IMG_3353IMG_3355

The last stop was exactly at the spot of the 20 Yuan note. So of course I asked one of my fellow travelers to take a picture of me with the note.IMG_3367

That was the end of the rafting tour and we wait for a bit at the landing to let the other travelers catch up.IMG_3375

On the way back I got a real seat on the bus since a couple of people stayed in Xinping. I later hear from Lisa and Paul that Xinping was a really nice “village” with a lot less tourism and much more relaxed than Yangshuo. Anyway, it was too late for me to change plans.

Once we arrived in Yangshuo I went back to the Westland Hostel, got my backpack and waited for the green bus No. 5. Which was actually on the way to the overland bus station not a problem at all. For one Yuan I was on my way to North Bus Station of Yangshuo and a little while later on my way to Guilin again.

Once I got off in Guilin I walked to my hotel which turned to out to be wrong one. I had booked a room at the Vienna Hotel (pun intended) and it was not this one I actually booked but another one nearer to the airport. Since I would leave early next morning I thought it better to get closer to it. Which was a big mistake since I had to take a taxi from the Vienna Hotel downtown to get to the other one and had t o get a taxi the next day as well. There was probably no price difference between a taxi ride from downtown and from where I stayed. since it was in the middle of nowhere I am sure I paid about the same amount.

So checked into the hotel then and since there was nothing to do or see in the immediate area and the only way to get away from there was by bus again, I decided to stay in my room, enjoy the air condition and just call it a day.
Yours, Pollybert