16.06.2011 - 16.06.2011 34 °C
The 15th started off as any other usual day here in China. Got up at 6am, jumped on a bus at 7am you know. The usual. (that was before I headed in the complete wrong direction for 20mins..... Taxi!) So anyway got a bus that would enevitably wind up in a 4.5hr, windy and absolutely exquisite trip through the Guangxi (广西) country side. You know it's not until you head out of the city for about an hour you realise how truly impovrished some people live; essentially bark humpies in among the banana plantations and exploding melon crops. (Did you hear about that over there? The farmers used some sort of growth hormone on their melons and well... they grew alright. and exploded). So the year's crops lay destroyed by the side of the road for nothing and no one but the stray dogs and the tires of passing traffic.
(It's at this point I would usually insert a photo but as it turns out my card reader isn't functional at the moment so you will have to wait until I return to school, deepest appologies m'dears).
Anyhow, poor people aside (oooohhh that sounds so callous doesn't it? Not intended I swear) The remainder of the trip was through banana plantations with earth a colour I have never seen before. Such a deep red I wanted to get off the bus and paint my arms with it, looked really good! Then the landscape slowly changed, morphed into something absolutely breath taking. Massive karst peaks sauntered out of the perpetual mist around us. Revealing something it would be quite impossible to forget or loath in a lifetime. Soon they clustered until they were all you could see, their ever reaching arms forever skyward in an eternities effort to embrace the sky. They reminded me somewhat of the skyscrapers you see back in Melbourne, their sides so straight and mysterious. What secrets do they hold? What have they seen? What will they see？ If only the peaks could talk I'm sure it would be amazing...
I arrived at my destination slightly awe-struck as it was. Meandering down the incredably steep and slippery stairs to the river, my feet too big for the steps and the roar of the distant falls beckoning me forward through the not-so-dense jungle. The river glittered a jade green and smelt like the sea. The far side of the river I beheld my first glimpse of Vietnam, the closest I had ever been to two countries at once, it was pretty cool. I watched the people go out in bamboo rafts right up to the mist at the bottom of the falls, where the water churned and people came out significantly more damp. It was this point I got a text from mum；
Go out in one of the boats..... if you think its safe
Well to be totally honest they didn't look that sturdy, come-on bamboo with polystyrine inbetween its layers, pushed along by 2 men and 10ft bamboo poles. I let it be for now. I followed along the path, now swarming with Chinese tourists, again I was the only white person.... and loving it. You see, as a lone white person, and a lone white girl. stand at a spot for a few minutes and someone (usually a mother or aunty with kids) offeres to take a photo for you with your camera. Very nice. So photos, laughs and continuing along the path right up to the rocks that guarded the 20m across, 3 level trans-national falls. And I will have you know that the water was absolutely freezing! Such a welcome relief from the humidity of the jungle. (I later found out that I was right near the Tropic of Cancer, or was it Capricorn? No wonder it was so steamy!)
Up the narrow and slimy stairs (OH&S is not a priority here in China I'm afraid) I followed my feet to the 53rd marker. This is infact the boarder of China and Vietnam. So, being dick head me, i stood there, smack in the middle of the two stone monuments (the Vietnames being far grander of the two I will say) and hopped from one foot to the other thinking;
I've got one foot in China. I've got one foot in Vietnam. China. Vietnam. China. Vietnam. China. I think I'll stick with China for now
Pretty random I know, the people around me and the people in the market were looking at me like I was insane. :P From what I could see the boarder was pretty poorley guarded (although I wasn't exactly looking for guards) I think I only saw one Chinese guard, hugging his machine gun as he snoozed under the shade of one of the junge trees..... oh so scary! lol.
Looking down at my phone it was time to start heading back so I could catch my bus back to Nanning (南宁) Heading back the way I came, past the white ponys and their keepers, past the corn fields and back to the roar of the falls. I thought bugger it. You're only young and slightly daft once. So I got on the raft and headed out to the falls with a family from Yunnan. Loooottttts of photos and we all got really wet from the falls. The panorama shots I took of the two falls (one is on the Vietnam side, pretty but small, and the other on the Chinese side, the main falls) are absolutely amazing! The only thing that would have made them better would be if it were a blue sky so you could see the karst peaks behind it. But either way. Amazing. I know you all will be totally jealous (to some degree) when I can eventually upload them.
Well until next time m'dears. Be good and check in soon!