Day 9

We met our guide David in the lobby around 9:30 for our return trip to Nanning.  Originally the plan was to tour Guiping some more, but it seemed we had seen about as much as we were going to see.  About 30 minutes outside of Guiping, all of the traffic on the two-lane road stopped.  People were getting out of their cars to see what was going on.  After about 10 minutes, some army tanks started going by.  I wanted to take pictures but David said we should be careful about taking pictures.  I remember when we were scolded when trying to take pictures of soldiers on Tiananmen Square several years ago.  I covertly put my camera where they couldn’t see and started snapping.  About then David had crawled across the front seat leaning into the driver’s seat with his camera taking pictures out the windshield (not quite as covert as me).  Maybe 20-25 tanks went by before traffic resumed moving.  It was pretty cool!  Another thing David said he had not seen before.

The rest of our drive took about 4 hours.  Boy were we ready to get out of that van!  We asked David to drop us off at the hotel to check in and then take us to the local shopping area where we could grab a late lunch at Pizza Hut and then shop some at the Wal-Mart.  Lunch was very good.  The pepperoni was better than the cheese.  We also ordered waffle fries as an appetizer.  There were many, many other options for dinner that were very far from pizza in the food domain.  I also had a couple of Tsingtaos and that took the edge off (at least for me!).

After lunch we did go to the Wal-Mart and I think I was the only one who enjoyed it.  It was packed and CRAZY.  There were people everywhere.  We didn’t even make it to the second level to show them the cool escalators.  Too bad.  We grabbed some sweet bread, some candy, some almonds and a few other small things.

We then went back on the square and had an ice cream cone from McDonalds.  It tasted really similar to home, which is always welcome when you’re so far from home.  I did have a little difficulty ordering, but fortunately there were some exchange students there from several non-Chinese countries who knew English really well and helped us out.

Attached to the Wal-Mart was a fairly large mall that we walked through.  There weren’t very many stores with things we were interested in, but somehow I think our family’s panda count expanded a bit before we could get out the door.

By the time we had seen enough, we realized it was a little after 5 pm and finding a cab in such a busy area was going to be tricky.  We were right!  We ended up getting two tuk-tuks (sort of a motorized pedi-cab).  Built for two passengers max, we pushed the limit by holding a small child on our laps, too (Kayla, me and Anna in the first one, and Kathleen, Megan and Mia in the second one).  I thought it sounded like a fun adventure and Kathleen said it wasn’t going to be “fun” until she realized they were actually getting us back to our hotel (which we did, and so, it was fun).

While the girls went to the swimming pool (they had missed having that opportunity while in Guiping!), I went to another grocery store across the street and picked up some water and pop.

After swimming we all enjoyed some various snacks out of the suitcase buffet (crackers, granola bars, leftover bread from the Wal-Mart and some chocolate snacks from Wal-Mart, too).  Then the girls had another movie night, watching Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame.  While they did that, in the other room Kathleen watched a movie on Kayla’s DVD player and I watched some National Geographic channel on TV.  It was mostly in Chinese, but I’ve learned that watching nature shows in other languages is okay because you seem to “get” what’s being discussed without having to understand the language.

After the movie, we all went to bed at our usual time of around 9 pm (I usually tried to stay up til 10 pm watching some show, but found it difficult to stay awake).  With all the excitement and energy spent each day, rest comes pretty easy!

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