Thursday, February 4, 2010

Mainland weekend: Day two

We got up (too) early Saturday morning and stumbled bleary-eyed around the market in front of our hotel for a while.

The friendly guys whose karaoke party we crashed the night before wanted to take us to breakfast, so we had dim sum.

They then gave us a ride to the station so we could take an hour-long bus ride to the Bamboo Forest. Scenes from the bus window (not the best quality, but you get the idea):

The kind ladies at the Bamboo Forest were sorting mandarins (more on these later) and presented us with a box to take with us.

But first, we had to explore the forest. It was once apparently a enormous sea of bamboo, but has now been paved, Disneyfied, and is actually in the process of being carpeted. Bamboo:

Bamboo fish traps:

Obstacle course (what bamboo forest is complete without one?):

And the carpet (nature is so much more inviting when it's upholstered, don't you think?):

But the main attraction wasn't the bamboo - it was us. Almost every group that we ran across wanted to take photos with us. None of their friends back home will believe the giants they found lumbering through the carpeted forest...

So after an hour of wandering the paths we headed back toward the main road. As we were trudging that way (carrying what I estimated to be 40 kg of oranges) a couple of young guys pulled up beside us and offered a ride to the bus station. Of course we accepted, but we had to stop on the way so one of the guys could buy us each a 2.5 kg suitcase of dried sweet potatoes as a gift (these sweet potatoes haunted our lives for the next day and a half until we were able to unload them on our hotel receptionist and a beggar).

So we caught the bus back to town, then went for dinner and beer and cards. Dinner involved the most amazing cucumber/garlic/cilantro/chili salad that is my new favorite dish (not a huge honor, as this changes week to week):

After eating, we were playing cards with a couple of guys when this man wandered in from the street:

He looks calm here, but he was fairly intoxicated and insisted on rubbing Kelly's beard repeatedly and making kissing noises. What is the proper response to this? (In Kelly's case, it was to chuckle uncomfortably and continue trying to play cards. In my case, it was to laugh hysterically and snap photos.)

We shut that place down, then went down the street to a snack bar for more beer and cards and fried chestnut cakes. Then back to the hotel to rest up for day three...

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