Monday, August 23, 2010

Anhui, part 10: To Tunxi and Beyond

Huangshan may have seemed crowded and noisy, when comparing to other mountain hikes, but it was downright peaceful when compared to the nearby town of Tangkou. Honking horns and revving motors. Back to the real China.

And now... a snake oil salesman.
l133 - Snake-Oil Salesman
Seriously. Why did we let ourselves get roped into this? Hungry, tired, in need of a shower -- and the tour locks us in a room with a snake oil salesman.

When it seemed the agony would never end, Chunlin got a phone call. It was a tour guide from our group. Get on the minibus now to go to Tunxi! Okay! We barely had time to be glad that he remembered her phone number as we raced out the door.

A brief stop at the hotel to get our stuff, then away we went.

Three English speakers were on the bus, from Hong Kong. I didn't hear them speak any Chinese. The woman said she was originally from London, so maybe they all were. They were very tired. Huangshan wasn't nearly as relaxing as they needed.

Many nice houses along the highway between Huangshan and Tunxi. Are they Potemkin villages for the tourists?

Construction construction construction. Hotels, highways, powerlines, office buildings, apartment buildings. Oxen wading through the muddy fields...

Farmers and families filling huge bags of tea leaves, carrying them up the road -- on a motorcycle, bicycle, or shoulders.

Back to Huangshan City (new name for Tunxi). 150,000 population, but as dense as New York City. More efficient that way? It's the Chinese way -- up, not out. Even in the countryside, the farmhouses are narrow, three-story affairs.

From the bus drop-off near the hotels, we caught a pedicab to the train station.
l135 - Túnxī Traffic

l134 - Chunlin on a Túnxī Pedicab

We arrived with plenty of time before our departure.

The locals were very friendly -- trying to sell us something, always. Friendly still after we told them "bu yao" (I don't want it) or bought something. They would sit and chat with us and wait for their next sale.

We took a pedicab ride to the bank to get cash for the train and Expo tickets. Then we spent 20 yuan to use a nearby hotel room briefly to shower. We felt much better after that!

Then to the market for foodstuffs. No baozi (steamed dumplings) in the evening. Sorry. But some pancakes, water (three yuan for 1.5 L!), and tissues. Tiny kitten at the shop in the market. Cute.

Eventually, on the train. Middle-level bunks, but we had the compartment to ourselves for a while. I finally started to cool off.
l136 - On the Train Again

As the train departed, a couple from the next compartment moved into the bunks below us, since we were quieter than the neighbors above them. At the next stop (while we tried to sleep) the ticketholders for the bunks below us showed up; a heated exchange ensued. Eventually the conductor convinced the new arrivals to take the bunks the bunk-hoppers had vacated. The new arrivals weren't happy because the folks above them were still yammering away.

We drifted off to sleep again as the train rolled down the tracks, leaving Huangshan and Anhui far behind.

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