A Travellerspoint blog

March 2017

Some "bagua" villages around Zhaoqing


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I went back to Zhaoqing after getting rained out last weekend. It was pretty cold and I booked a cheap hotel on booking.com, but it was a little hard to find. I showed the address to someone at an apartment building where I thought the hotel was. He kindly got his son to look up the actual address, and quickly showed me the way.

Again, they didn't find my booking. I thought booking.com was the most commonly used site around, guess not. Also, they didn't take debit cards, so I had to wander around looking for a bank before they would let me take a shower. Finally I paid and everything, ate whatever peanuts were left in my bag and then tried to take a shower. Wouldn't you know it? No hot water. I went down to the lobby in a towel and she told me to take a shower in another random room. Ugh. So annoying. I know I went with the cheap hotel, but really? Anyway, I didn't sleep well because there were mosquitoes coming in from the windows that didn't have any screens on them. Sigh.

It was easy to get to the first village about 20 km from town, once I had the correct directions, that I received last week from my waitress. I took bus 315 from the bus station beside the train station. Everything was going fine. Even the ticket lady showed me the way to the village when I got off.

A bagua village is shaped like a yin yang symbol. There is a big one in the middle of town and all the buildings radiate from there. From above, it looks really cool. Walking around in it from the ground, is extremely confusing.

The first village, Lisha, was on a little river or canal.
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One of the many entrances into the village.
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The yin yang in the centre of town
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No one really lives there anymore, so it was quiet and spooky seeing all the abandoned buildings. Frequently, I would walk into an abandoned house and be greeted by the flapping wings of birds, desperate to escape from me. Other times, I would hear people singing or humming, and I wasn't quite sure if it was a human or a ghost. Everytime I stopped walking to hear the ghost better, it would stop singing. It must've been a coincidence, right?
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People just left all their things behind, when they left this village to live in more modern housing.
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Sometimes there were huge plants living in the stone buildings.
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This is the ring road around the village, so it was hard to get lost.
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I think this might have been an old dock for boats.
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Lisha village from above:
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The other bagua village was Xianggang and it was two obscure buses away. I showed the Chinese words to the ticket man and he told me to get off and change to the 308 bus. The next ticket man was not so friendly. He just yelled at me and shooed me to the back of the bus when I tried to show him my paper. It was lucky that I saw one sign that said something like Xianggang in pinyin and I got off there. That guy was not gonna help me.

There was a market in front of the old village so I couldn't find it at first. I bought some snacks from a friendly lady, and she told me to get back on the bus, there was no bagua village there. I was confused until another nice lady told me to walk straight until I see a tree. She was exactly correct.

This village was full of "ancestral halls", places where family members come to eat together and worship the ancestors. One of them was open and there were about 200 people inside, chowing down with heaps of food in giant bowls. I was so surprised to see them, that I didn't take a picture. This village was much the same as the last one, so I didn't feel bad leaving after rambling around for about a half hour. I felt like I had experienced the bagua village and probably won't need to see another one in my whole life.
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An example of a seldom used ancestral hall:
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One of the big trees outside the bagua village:
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A nice path leading to a well kept up ancestral hall:
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So similar to the last village.
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Posted by baixing 20:27 Archived in China Tagged zhaoqing Comments (0)

Rainy day in Zhaoqing

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After lunch at home, I walked all the way down to the bus station in the afternoon and hopped a bus to Zhaoqing. I wanted to go to the beach but it was going to rain all weekend, so I thought it would be better to go to the city instead.

I had just bought a Hostelling International membership, so I used it on the one HI hostel in town. The guy didn't get my booking, so it took me about an hour to get him to call the head office and confirm it. He was gonna charge me some other price, I couldn't understand him, so I wouldn't pay until he called the head office.

I had some takeout for dinner because it was raining already.

in the morning, it was raining again, I went to the "plum monastery" on the west side of town.
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It was a lot smaller than I expected, so I just left and started walking around the city walls.
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The wall was under construction in a few places, so I had to climb up and down a few times.
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There was a lot of really nice art on the walls.
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And typical Chinese decorations.
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These are the walls from the outside.
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At this point, I was still pretty dry.
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It wasn't even 9 a.m. yet, and I was wondering what to do with my day. I thought I could go out to Dinghu Shan for a bit. I didn't want to walk around in the dreary drizzle, so I bought the full ticket, including the bus up the hill. It was about 100 yuan. I hate that hiking in China is so expensive, but it's a nice barrier to keep all of the crowds out, usually. This time, it wasn't the case though.
You can take the bus there all the way for 2 yuan, so that's nice. As usual, you must walk past a long line of tourist shops before you get to the ticket office. I got on the bus and we passed tons and tons of students, all dressed in uniform tracksuits. So funny. They were trudging up the hill to the biggest "ding" in the world. A ding is an ancient three legged pot that was used for cooking food in, or for ceremonial purposes in the olden days. I don't think anyone is going to contest this world record anytime soon.
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I wanted to get a boat and go out to "butterfly valley" and take a long hike, but the weather was too drizzly and they weren't going. I could take the boat, but I wouldn't be able to see anything, and we'd go on a short hike, that would be boring, so I declined.
I got back on the shuttle bus and we went over to Qingyun temple. It's the oldest in Guangdong.
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I walked on down to the waterfalls, following some more students. The water was crystal clear and there were some signs talking about how this is the cleanest air and has the most "ions". Apparently, it's a really healthy place to breathe.
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However, I climbed back up the mountain and on my way up, a trail that not many people take, I saw that the whole thing was fake and a big sham. Dinghu shan is a famous bottled water company and this is the place where they get their water. I guess that they dammed the river up in the process of taking it. Then, they made a fancy park to climb around in, and charged us all 100 yuan to see it. Reminded me of that famous song.
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Then, I generally walked around in the mist the rest of the day.
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On my walk back to the bus, I grabbed a steamed rice thing in a banana leaf. It had tuna and beans in it too. It was really filling and I got back to town, not interested in dinner.
I tried to walk back to the hostel but a giant storm picked up and soaked my legs up to my knees. I was feeling miserable, so I grabbed a bus for the last few stops, only to completely miss my hostel's stop due to the condensation on the windows of the bus. Grumbling, I ended up walking basically the same amount in the pouring rain, as if I never took the bus at all. I took off all my clothes, hung them up, and got into bed, not caring there were two other women suddenly bunking in the room with me. Ugh.
I found that it was raining in the morning again.
Totally demoralized, I tried to push on to a small village outside town, but when the bus station I wanted to go to was closed, I threw my hands up and went home. I stopped for breakfast and asked some nice college students how to get to this small village and they explained it in perfect English. I could catch bus 315 from the train station now, since the bus station had been demolished. But still, my feet were raisins and all I wanted to do was get dry. That wouldn't have happened in that village, I guarantee. I went back to the inter city bus station instead and went home.
At least now I know how to get to the ancient villages for the next time I'm in Zhaoqing.

Posted by baixing 03:47 Archived in China Tagged zhaoqing dinghushan Comments (0)

English club spring trip

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Darby invited me to go to the English club spring trip at a park in Yunan, a town about an hour and a half away (not the province). We got on two huge buses

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Someone gave me this delicious candy.
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Then we wandered around the park for the day. The cherry blossoms had already fallen and it was a little rainy. But it was still an alright time.
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There was a little forest you could stroll around as well.
English club trip to Yunan

English club trip to Yunan

Taking photos in canola fields is something that Chinese women love to do. My students are definitely no exception. Therefore, we had to pull the bus over to the side of the road and hang out here for a bit.
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The art students at our school often come here to paint with watercolours. They hold massive exhibits in the lobby of our teaching building all the time. Some students recognized the buildings in this village because they saw the paintings. They were all really excited to see the real thing..
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Some of the buildings were converted into cultural museums and art galleries.
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I bought Jessica a fish when we walked back through the canola fields. Will sat beside me, of course, and I helped him learn how to use Duolingo on his phone. It will teach him English better than I can.

These are photos that Darby took. Everyone wanted to take a photo with me, it was like being a character at Disneyland. Welcome to my life.

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Posted by baixing 17:34 Archived in China Tagged guangdong yunan Comments (0)

Getting back to Phnom Penh


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I rode my bike back to Sihanoukville. I had a fresh homemade english muffin sandwich, and I found a guy with the Weezer logo shaved into the back of his head. I took the bus back to Phnom Penh and they dropped me off at the airport again, that was great. I just got a cheap room across the street and flew out in the morning.

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Posted by baixing 05:38 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Relaxing day on Otres beach 1


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We had some nice relaxing times on the beach. I really needed it, I was super tired.
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Posted by baixing 05:30 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Otres beach with Jack


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I rented another bike and went to go explore some beaches. There was a really nice one called Independence beach and when I got there I stayed for the rest of the day. I had a delicious Khmer pancake, I don't know why I've never found these before. They're really great. Big pancakes with meat and vegetables in the middle that you wrap up in a lettuce leaf.
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And here's a guy taking pictures of people at the beach. Right.
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And here's some goats I saw.
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I rode my bike down to Otres beach and found Jack and company at the restaurant beside their house. We sat and ate dinner by the sunset and then I got a room upstairs from the restaurant. It was alright for $7.

Posted by baixing 05:21 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

The worst hostel in the world


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I decided to put an end to these sand flies everywhere, so I left in the morning to go to Sihanoukville, which would be my last stop. I had found out that a fellow TravelPod blogger was in Cambodia at the same time, so I arranged to meet up with him and his girlfriend at Otres Beach 1.

Lottie and I had breakfast and then got some more antihistamines for her. I bought my bus ticket and we said goodbye. But a few moments later we ended up on the same bus anyway. I just had to change halfway through, and she stayed on the bus and went to Phnom Penh.

I stayed at the worst hostel in the world, Utopia on the main street in Sihanoukville. It was really disgusting, but it was only $2.
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I went out for a nice dinner at yet another charity restaurant.
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There were 25 cent beers at Utopia for happy hour. I hung out in the bar avoiding eye contact for a while and then went to bed.

Posted by baixing 04:53 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Sick and tired and itchy


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Lottie went on a jungle hike early in the morning, and I just stayed in bed all day. Taking anti-histamines for the itching sand fly bites. I even got takeout breakfast and a taro shake to eat in bed.

When I woke up, everyone was back, and we went to the river for dinner. Another German and I had squid, while the British women got scared and waited for us to finish. We all went back to Wood House where they could get some vegetarian food. We saw a Swiss couple from our boat trip and another British guy from our hostel there, so it was fun.
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Posted by baixing 04:27 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Beautiful Koh Kong island


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Lottie and I left on the boat to Koh Kong island. It really was great. After a two hour ride, we were deposited in paradise. We had a beautiful beach all to ourselves. The water was crystal clear and the perfect temperature for swimming. I felt like I had stepped right into someone's computer screen saver.
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The guides made us a huge barracuda for lunch, with lots of fruit for dessert. Fantastic. The only problem with this island is the terrible sand flies. They bit me at least 20 or 30 times. I couldn't just lie on the beach, I was always trying to fend them off. I'd jump back in the water whenever I felt too itchy.
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Soon, we went back to town, after a stop at the mangroves, which reminded me of Singapore. It was a nice place to relax on a board walk, in the bushes.
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When we got back, we all went to the "beer garden" which was not a garden at all. There were a few shacks and some fake plants around the karaoke stage. I sang a couple songs and we had a couple beers while the call girls sang some songs for their potential clients.

We couldn't leave fast enough. Our next stop was Fat Sam's where we had dinner and a crazy old drunk Australian man started talking to us. Another awful irritating one. So my second night in Koh Kong was not so great.

Posted by baixing 04:10 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Changing guest houses


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I was supposed to take a boat to Koh Kong Island at eight, but it wasn't leaving because of "the weather". Later, someone else told me there just weren't enough people for the tour, so fine, but why lie about it? I rushed through breakfast and then they told me all that. So, thanks a lot guest house guy.
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So, change of plans, I thought I'd rent a bike to cross the bridge to a temple over the river. Sorry the bikes all have flat tires. OK... so what about the wifi? Maybe I can just watch youtube all day. No... it's broken. Well, I'm just gonna leave then and you will know that it's your fault, because you can't fix a bike tire. OK bye.
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I packed up all my stuff, annoyed. I had the idea I'd stay there for three days at least, so I was getting comfortable with the place already. Annoying. I walked down to the waterfront and found the tour company, to book my trip for the next day. He had some dorms, so I just stayed right there. My morale was so low at that point, I just wanted to enjoy the empty dorm for a while. That's what I did until a lively British woman came in named Lottie, she motivated me to go rent a bike with her. We went to the temple (which didn't have any statues of hellish torture, as promised in the Lonely Planet) Disappointed, we headed down to Koh Kong beach. It really was full of litter and gross, but we had our beers and watched the sunset there.
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Lottie had a Skype date with her boyfriend, so I left her for an hour to have dinner at Wood House, of course. I went with another German lady, to find dinner. I had some sweet sticky rice and then we had some noodles with Lottie when she was finished her date. DSC01622.jpg

A strange drunk Khmer man had followed me there and he entertained us for a while. We walked home in the dark, promising to eat squid at his restaurant the next day.

Posted by baixing 03:42 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Bad guest house in Koh Kong but delicious dinner


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I almost missed the bus after completely not hearing my alarm. However, I kind of knew what color the sky was at 6 a.m., because I seem to always get up then anyway.

I rushed out to the station and got there just on time, crammed some pastries in my mouth and we took off. It didn't matter anyway because we toured around the city picking everyone up. The bus was completely full and I was snoozing in the back when a crazy woman started yelling at me to move because I was in her seat. I pointed at the front where she could sit in my seat, but she didn't want to. No one wants to listen to the bus' horn all day, I knew I sure didn't.

I fought over the toilet again at the rest station and then arrived in Koh Kong in the afternoon. It took a while to find the guest house, because it blended in with the road, but I got there.

I had a beer with a cute English couple and then dinner at Wood House, down the street. The owner made me a wondrous vegetable curry and a caipirinha, so I was happy. I couldn't sleep all night, there were some sort of animals in my room. It was kind of awful. 180_IMG_1559.jpg

Posted by baixing 03:24 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Back to Phnom Penh


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I literally spent the whole day on the bus. My ticket said the bus would pick me up at seven, but of course, it didn't come until eight. I bought a lot of pastries at the market while waiting, and snacked on them all day.

I had a couple of outbursts on people who don't understand a toilet line. They sure do understand lines when someone is standing at the door enforcing them though! At the second washroom we stopped at, the efficiency was amazing. Everyone fell right into line because the cleaning woman was keeping track of who was butting in. At the first toilet, no such authority figure was there, guess who waited about 20 minutes for a toilet at that one. I only got to pee after I literally elbowed someone who tried to cut in front of me out of the way. What utter inconsiderate nonsense.

When we finally arrived in Phnom Penh, we were near the train station. I tried to buy a ticket to Sihanoukville, but the train wasn't leaving until Friday. I put that info in my back pocket for the trip back. I might come back that way next week.

With the train idea obliterated, I went to find a different bus company to get to Koh Kong, but my favourite one didn't go there, nor did the ticket woman help me out with even the name of another company who might go there. Not my favourite bus company anymore, Phnom Penh Sorya! I went back to the bus I got there with once again, and reluctantly bought a ticket leaving in the morning.

88 Backpackers was not so far from there, so I got a bed in the quiet room and went to the market for noodle soup and a jackfruit shake for dessert. Beers were also enjoyed on the common balcony before bed.IMG_1558.jpg

Posted by baixing 20:34 Archived in China Comments (0)

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