An extremely scenic 2 hr+ drive from the tea village to the city of Xiamen. We shared the car with 2 other men from the village who laughed at the idea of people interested in paying money to stay at their village. We tried to tell them about our home in the prairies and how this is so different and so beautiful to us! They laughed some more.
From here, we needed to get to Nanning but there were no bus leaving until the next morning. Bus was cheaper than train and supposedly less time. I made the mistake of responding and showing interest to a man who was selling bus tickets to Nanning leaving that afternoon so we don't have to wait around til the next day. We even followed him out of the parking lot to see his bus. Except, the moment came when doubt became suspicion and interest became alert. He then refused to leave us alone. He even sent us 'his lady' who at least was less aggressive but just as hard to shake off. We escaped into KFC where there was WiFi and ice cream and A/C. It was an unexpected place of refuge as we had time to regroup, plan and received help in taking the bus to a nearby hotel. It turned out to be a 'not-so-nearby' hotel, but hey, that's alright because it was a great place to sleep and good eats around.
The next day, we boarded a sleeper bus. We were quite excited to find a group of beds at the back but the man in charge stepped in and insisted we take the beds more forward. We agreed and were grateful because after only a few hours, the smell from the toilet began to fill the bus! Yeah, stinky. The bus stopped at a few other spots for pick up until we realized even with all the sleepers full, they still picked up more people! There was a lot of yelling and a woman in particular was targeted - made to move around a few times. Later in the night, Alvin witnessed them shuffle people around and even hid someone in the bathroom when an inspector came into the bus. A group of people were also shooed off the bus at an odd dropoff before we arrived at the actual destination. Somebody's making some extra money on the side. We were on the bus for 23 hrs.
Nanning - the perfect end to China.
Initially, we were just stopping over in this city for a night before catching a train to Hanoi. But because we left the tea farm early, we had an extra 3 nights at a very pleasant airbnb. It was only a step away from the train station. We had a dorm room of 6 to ourselves. The host and other guests were friendly and kind. We learnt the second night that the host was a chef! He was teaching a friend to cook as his friend is planning to open his own restaurant. His friend also spoke Cantonese which aided greatly to our conversations! That night, we had a great feast of his version of 'Hot Pot'. He often shares food with us and is always interested in what the kids are doing. His door is always opened. We had a warm send off when we left for the train!
[There's a load of photos i wanted to add to Nanning from my phone but unfortunately, i went 'swimming' with it at Halong Bay and it's now sitting in a bag of rice.]