We were hoping for a jump in class with the Nanning train but – nothing doing – same carriages, same loos but luckily no-one sharing the cabin. No problem with people but security may have been an issue at night. We killed eight mozzies in the compartment – Chris now a dab hand – me 2, Chris 6.
from Hanoi to Nanning was scenically quite interesting. A rocking rolling ride through lots of hills and valleys and an enormous amount of ‘market garden’ crops – not all rice.
Nanning is HUGE. Pollution – unbelievable. Arrived at the train station to a sea of five million Asians with no-one speaking English (naturally) but no signs in English either and NO MONEY. Eventually, “sounds like” “look like” got us to the Chinese Bank. I think they thought this geriatric old couple were going to rob them. Security – unbelievable. On the way back again we had to cross the road – both of us pulling suitcases. You have to fight through moving but almost stationary traffic and millions of carts, bikes and pedestrians to get to the other side. Poor old Chris vanished from sight behind a bus at one stage but you can’t stop – she was wearing all her clothes to make sure no-one could nick them and both of us were sweating profusely as you can imagine. Chris is holding up really well in a challenging environment. It took nearly an hour trying to get a taxi as either they can’t understand your map, someone else jumps in or they just don’t see you! After the third taxi driver drove off we found an old guy who got out a magnifying glass to find the Best Western Red Forest Hotel. (Luckily we had thought to bring a printout from all stations to all hotels). We got there eventually in the rush-hour – he did a great job, one tooth, a wide grin and determined to get us there – charged us almost nothing , what a guy. If you HAVE to go to Nanning this hotel had some surprisingly nice points – again non-existent English but sign language got us through. After the train ride we were exhausted and starving. Shower – easy. Then looking for grub. We were carefully led just outside the door to a Chinese restaurant, really nice, seating about 400. Part of the hotel, we think. So there we are, sitting down and the whole menu is written in Chines, no pictures, just hieroglyphics. Finally, they grabbed a lovely young girl who came and held our hand and chose for us. No idea what we ate but it was lovely. One looked like seaweed and the other fried something with chillies and lots of peanuts. A really friendly very concerned young lady. It made a nice change. Nanning does not have the same squalor in the city as the Old Quarter in Hanoi but still has the congestion traffic pollution. Yet, in the BW Hotel they had a wonderful outdoor area, beautifully treed and a magical violin rendition playing in the background. We thought it was recorded but was in fact a young girl in the foyer with a mike feeding into our outside oasis. Serenity in a sea of hecticness (?). Chris is now having orgasmic dreams of a Hard Rock Café and a 600 gram steak!