Sunday, January 24, 2010

Leizhou and The Sound of One Horn Honking

Bus stations are fun.
The Ancient Rich Guy's House Museum

Click the pix for larger picture.

Yesterday we took a day trip to the town of Leizhou to visit our friends, Mike and Feng Wen, who live there. Mike is a mega teacher at two schools there. We live on the Leizhou Peninsula, and Leizhou is a small, ancient city that is basically a farm hub.
It was drizzly, chilly and foggy, perfect travel weather! We caught a bus that should only take a little over an hour to get there. This turned out to be a Chinese hour, which like the Spring Festival that occurs in the dead of winter, and is one of those Eastern Mysteries. The road there could use a little of that government infrastructure stimulus spending that we read so much about. It's narrow and the surface is what engineers refer to as "shitty". It has everything on it from cars and trucks to ox carts. Our driver used the great time tested Chinese driving technique of blasting his air horn every 20 seconds or so, which greatly enhanced our traveling pleasure.
The scenic farm land was obscured by the fogged up windows which were the result of 85% humidity and a bus load of people who insisted on breathing. However, by constantly wiping the window I was able to enjoy the sugar cane, coconut palms, and eucalyptus groves along the way.
Eucalyptus is used for plywood veneer and naturally rolls out apparently quite easily. There are numerous mills that have the sheets laid out all around the yards, apparently curing in the mud. Sugar production is also huge. After nearly two hours we finally arrived in the crowded little city that is Leizhou. What it lacks in cars, it more than makes up for in motorcycles and oddball conveyances, and the streets, though fewer are just as chaotic as in the Big City.
We had a nice visit and lunch with our friends, followed by a nice walk in the park. There is a very old house that had belonged to some ancient scholar that has been converted into a museum that we checked out, but we needed to hurry since I had an appointment back home. There are some things we missed that I want to see next time we go there, including a massive temple complex and a museum. We took off sooner than we wanted. The trip home was a reverse of the trip out, except we were right up front and our driver was a strict adherent to preemptive honking. Any hint of something in the driver's field of vision required a warning blast, so the horn fans among the passengers were rewarded with a real treat. The Chinese Hour that it took to get home was only and hour and 45 minutes this time. I definitely want to return, but will wait for nice weather, and enough time for an overnight trip.