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February 1, 2007 - Guangzhou, China

Beady Bedside Eyes

Guangzhou. Home of 7 million people, great oysters and traffic jams. I guess it probably isn’t unique for having any or all of those but it has added to the appeal, sans the latter. Ah, the traffic jams.

36 hours on a bus sounded like an eternity talking about it before hand.

Even now it sounds like alot, but in reality it passed pretty quickly. The bus was a sleeper bus, much like the bus I took on my other long-range bus ride to Taiyuan, and is decently comfortable. I’d imagine nerve damage would set in if it wasn’t a sleeper bus, sitting upright, knees to chest, neck bent awkwardly trying to sleep on the forehead-cracking window for that long.

Ms. Wang said her goodbyes and sent me off with a veritable cornucopia of goodies for the trip. I might have well been going to Mars. Bags of dried fruit, mandarins, water, tea, candies and a local specialty, air-dried beef. No small piece of cow though, a hunk the size of my head, rubbed with cloves, anise and pepper. Delicious to say the least.

First day cruised by, reading a book, chatting with the bus drivers and other passengers. The second day went by just as smoothly in fact. The bus drivers afforded me incredible latitude, letting me sit in the front with them, watching the hills change from brown and dusty to lush and green. They even had me eat meals with them - none of the standard sub-par-roadhouse-gouge-the-traveler-overpriced fare.

Scheduled to get in at 4AM, the busdrivers made sure to let me know that they would wake me up. I curled up - no, I bent my knees slightly - and feel fast asleep waiting to wake in Guangzhou. I woke slightly disoriented in the dark bus but the large red LCD clock in front of the bus brought me out of the haze.


30 minutes, more likely an hour, but close.

Thinking of getting off the bus and stretching my legs, the bus slowed. Prophetic. One final rest stop. I then realized we were in the 2nd lane and not pulling over.

We had hit traffic.

Pulling up next to a trailer full of wide-eyed sheep, we stopped. For the next 5 hours.

I startled at 5 to a plaintive bleating, and groggily peering out the darkened window, saw gazing back at me set upon set of beady little eyes.

Slowly moving past the accident site, the grass in the median was still aflame.

41 hours out of Guyuan.


Meeting my friend Ben at his school, we ventured out for lunch and capped off the walk with a durian milkshake.

If you know durian you’ll either smack your lips or cringe mightily.

Crossbreed garlic, onions, bananas and a hedgehog and you’ll end up with something akin to a durian.


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