So the kid's a little loud, but the bunks are big and soft enough to sleep on properly (see also Russia), and there's a seat on the toilet. This leg won't be so bad after all, and it's already more than 1/3 over. After that Irkutsk-Vladivostok run last year, anything less than 48 hours feels too short to be bothered about.
The windows are streaky and the air's wet, so I won't be taking too many pics. Hopefully, this will clear off by the time I have to go it on foot; a morning under pack is bad enough, but a morning under pack in the rain is worse still.
The train's still stopped; it does this frequently, and for relatively long times. This is probably why this run, much shorter in distance than Harbin-Xi'an, is going to take about the same time.
0880. The watermelon of the adventure.
- The Adventure of the Watermelon -
So around 10 the fruit cart guy came around, and whether for a lack of customers, to flirt with the young mom who had her kid in this carriage, or just to bait the foreigner out of boredom, he made a real hard pitch. I of course couldn't follow perfectly, but for sport I committed to a 15元 watermelon, which I could see he didn't have, even cut. Of course, he came back with the melon about 10:30, and I had to scrounge, being short of small bills, but in the end it's cut up on the table. Since it's a little large for one person, I offered the kids to eat what they liked (on Chinese long-distance trains, you generally bring extra snacks in order to share with everyone else around you), but they ran away. I still hope it may be shared out; if not, I'll be less starved today and maybe save some 小吃 for tomorrow's breakfast.
Addendum: the kid later pissed in the trashcan, and nearly on my kit, but this is China, after all. And soon enough, he did enjoy the watermelon.
My pack had trouble getting back under, but with the train supplies tossed, I should be able to move some gear around. I'll finish off the last of the train food tomorrow as well; of a kilo of sausage laid in in Harbin a week ago, but one link is left, and that'll be gone tonight.
v59. Quick look into a rural town.
v60. Another of fields and houses.
The windows are impossible, but the country is too beautiful and striking to ignore. The main problem, though, is that we're continuously in and out of tunnels, so I can't keep the camera on generally. The vistas I can preserve are nothing, literally nothing, on those that obstructed fields, technical limitations, and/or social decorum prevent me from preserving.
0881. (not germane)
0882. River view; trying to get a boatman, but the train was too fast.
0883. Riverbank scene.
The rain has dried up, but the train's kicking along at a right fast clip; stuff is there-and-gone at Japanese speeds rather than Siberian.
0884. Temple gate and trees.
0885. Misty mountain far.
0886. A long river view.
0887. Country road through the forest.
0888. Fields and mountains.
0889. Flooded fields and a hill of graves.
0890. Sharp-horned mountains at a station stop.
0892. Hill and station house; the high rises ubiquitous to eastern and southern China are nowhere to be found in these mountains. This is rural among rural, truly, and passing through it at the tail end of a late spring rain gives a singularly peaceful stillness the the countryside. As a tourist I should have done Guangdong all at once, and be headed from here to Guilin and thence to Tibet, but I don't have all the time or money in the world. As a traveler, though, it's very good that I've come this way, and seen a side of China that you will never find where the land's flat.
0893. Raw mountain, pulling out.
0894. More of the high dome.
0895. Mountains and town.
0896. Flooded paddies, distant peaks.
0897. Mountains and river flow.
0898. Serrated peaks in the distance.
The kid had been napping, but woke up owing to having wet the bed. I feel bad for his poor mom sleeping beside him at the time; I've spent too long at German metalfests to be overly troubled by the stink of urine. Other travelers' mileage may vary; I suggest, in the first instance, not feeding them fruit with an abnormally high water content, even if it was originally procured for a joke and is too large for one person. :[
0899. Great karst domes, leaving Rongshui.
0900. Three in sequence.
0901. A bluff rises from the plain.
0902. Closer to the mass.
0903. A solitary knob of rock.
0904. Standing alone.
0905. (DNCO) Outcroppings and a windbreak. The strategy here was to shoot a lot, only keeping those that were the most in-focus and most in-frame. (This one wasn't, really)
0906. Range around a valley.
0907. Another battlement.
0908. Closer, passing.
0909. A long mountain over the road.
This is a poor substitute for Guilin, but not having the time to actually visit the karst country, the least I could do was pass through some of the outskirts.
0910. Mountains and well-watered country.
0911. With a different stream.
0912. A triangular prominence.
0913. Away to the range.
0914. A great peak right by the track.
0915. Closer on.
0916. Up from below.
0917. High, bare, slope.
0918. Mountains and dam.
0919. A few peaks more.
0920. A great bare castle.
0921. Looming out of the jungle.
0922. Bare cap and rockslide fencing.
0923. Steep slopes cultivated still.
0924. Rural China.
0925. River view, right before the trestles hit.
0926. A block of mountains.
0927. A second mostly-clear view.
China's attitude towards track access is pretty laissez-faire generally. So when the train enters an artificial tunnel box and emerges alongside a fence topped with razor wire, you don't turn the camera on, no matter how amazing the surrounding mountains are.
0928. Berg in the deepening mist.
0929. Doubly faced.
0930. Bare rock.
0931. A last peak over a viaduct.
The compartment's full again; young dudes, some of whom are booked elsewhere. On the whole, I'd rather put up with the kid.
Six hours till packout. We'll see how well I sleep.
almost to Guangzhou
Pocket stuff apart, I'm fully packed, with my train-specific gear discarded and tied off. Today's plan starts with breaking a bill at the Hbf -- I probably have enough change to get south, but it's not certain -- getting my next ticket at Guangzhou South, and then doing a bit of Siu Bek and maybe seeing the mosque before checking in, at which point I divide and parse out my gear. I'm not sending it out till early on the 22nd, but I want to know where I'm sending it from -- and that what I keep will stay under seven kilos.
- Guangzhou -
0932. GZ Hbf in the dark. In the plaza in front of the station, there were a couple dozen people sacked out -- not homeless, just waiting for an early train.
0933. Looping overpasses from a footbridge in Xiao Bei.
0934. Greenery bubbles off the path.
0935. Growth and skyscrapers.
0936. Apartments and more plants.
Siu Bek was cool, but it was too early to see a whole ton; the only difference to elsewhere in Guangzhou is the large signs, in English and Arabic (and probably also, lower down, French and Chinese), reminding people that foreigners need to present a passport when challenged by police. Other than that, just as well-off, well-maintained, and green as anywhere else.
The greenery is probably half planted, half accident. The jungle is all around you here, and will fill in at a moment's notice.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall
0937. Hall from the west gate.
0938. Closer on a corner.
0939. Roof corner and new build.
0940. On the south side.
0941. "Tree Embracing Tree", a banyan grown around a fan palm. This is also occasionally translated on signs around the park as "Tree On Tree", which is hilarious.
0942. South face view.
0943. Long shot of the east gate.
0944. The net of a great banyan.
0945. North side and statue.
0946. Statue, side-on.
0947. Inside; a nice latticed window.
0948. The furnishings recall temple architecture.
0949. Also insured by Smith & Wesson.
0950. Anticolonialist poster; note the frog in French colors.
0951. Original diagnosis; Dr. Sun Yat-Sen was a doctor of medicine, not philosophy, and continued to practice even while gaining fame as a thinker, speaker, and leader of the revolutionary movement.
0952. Memorial tablet in the main auditorium.
0953. New build, new life, through a sunshower.
The hall didn't have much in the way of artifacts, and a substantial chunk of the exhibit was devoted to the hall itself. However, it was still quite interesting, and a good diversion running out the clock before I can credibly go to the hotel. Beer and an early start has me running on empty, but I should be able to string it out to get in like 10:30 or 11, not much earlier than Xi'an. We'll see how long I've got to stew.
0954. Statue in a separate memorial hall.
0955. A dodge.
0956. A commanding if streaky view of Guangzhou.
In addition to nice views, the hotel also has a range top rather than just an electric kettle for making tea. There's no cooking utensils, but that's easily remedied -- and if I find a wet market, I can't be entirely responsible for my actions.
Further investigation revealed the stove had been deactivated, which is probably for the best.
Attempting to go to the Hanyue burial mound museum, I got lost coming out of the subway (despite still having a compass on me, which should have eliminated that possibility) and got caught in a rainstorm, but it wasn't a complete failure: Italy and England Hapi caps, and I did see most of Zhongshan 6th Road.
0958. Storm over a pedestrian bridge.
0959. Angry clouds sweep across.
0960. Old-school building in Zhongshan Sixth Road.
My clothes are currently busy drying out, and I may try to explore local cuisine on a late dinner. Regardless, I'm going to make close plans for tomorrow, so I can see all I need to, in the time I have, and not screw things up like today.
0961. Chinese buffet, Chinese style.
After a bit of a walk, I came to this place, a cafeteria setup that covers all the bases. You get a tray with a bowlful of rice on it, then go down the line and point at the dishes you want added. Each averages like six yuan, with the meat ones and the veggie ones lower. You get charged at the end based on what's on your plate; I paid about 40元 for this intentionally indulgent dinner, but if you're poor, you can come in, refuse all dishes, and pay a single yuan for a hot bowl of rice.
My good luck continued on the way back; I got a German Hapi and a hot lead on a likely source of more caps. It cost me a 13.50 can of import (expensive, I've been drinking bigger 3-yuan bottles of domestic further inland :[ ), but I saw a Hapi rack nearly cleaned out, with Argentina and Spain remaining. That's the first case assortment; there's at least one more tranche on the streets here, and that rack's going to fill up overnight -- probably with caps from the later tranches. The demand here for Hapi -- or colorful Hapi caps -- keeps the racks churning, and as long as the churn goes, I've got a chance at the (only) seven caps now remaining at large.
0962. Down into the night.
I'm partly packed/manifested, and mostly ready to go; I figure tower, then post pack, then do the longer foot stuff and prep for an early start tomorrow.
I got to the tower in good time, but like an hour and a half before it opened. Some notes from outside.
0963. A rainy morning in Guangzhou.
0964. At the tower; completely swallowed in mist.
0965. Ostentatious apartments nearby.
0966. More of the steel weave of the base.
0967. North across the wharf.
0968. Along the mist-shrouded riverbank.
0969. Looking east.
0970. (DNCO) Bridge lost in the fog. Visibility's about 300-500 meters, less, obviously, looking straight up.
0971. Clearing a little.
0972. Lulz. This has to be posted, because people come here from all over the world, often not realizing that much of the year, the Pearl delta is functionally equivalent to a sauna bath, and the tower is frequently socked in by clouds.
It does appear to be clearing a little, so I'll probably go straight up the tower as planned. Fog or no fog, I'm not here forever.
v62. Sudden raindrops bounce on a patio. It's been dripping all morning, but the real rain started with this burst; in the old days, people used to believe that these sudden, short downpours were the result of a dragon going by.
A film crew set up a generator for their catering area by my seat, so I took another hike around the tower and a few more pictures.
0973. Skyscrapers emerge from the fog.
0975. A long wash of green.
0976. Helix and tower.
After more waiting, I got in, and while the views from the elevator were amazing, 450 meters is more visibility than there is this morning. As soon as the engineering hall opens, I'll check that out, and hope that things continue to clear.
0977. Above the clouds.
0978. Black marble in the Star observation deck.
0979. Well, they're not lying.
The wait paid off handsomely, as of course the clouds cleared and I was about the only person up in the tower.
0982. The waterfront emerges.
0983. Down to the shrouded river.
v64. Wisping off northwest.
0984. Into the city.
0985. Greenway and brownfields.
0986. A slice of waterfront.
0987. Wisps of hanging fog.
0988. Down to the Chigang Pagoda.
0990. More of the Pearl bridge.
0991. Challengers appear.
0992. Down into the weird stadium.
0993. Into the north cultural park.
0994. Still socked in upriver.
0995. Pagoda and park.
0996. Bridge and bank.
0997. The dawn comes.
I recovered from the retinal burn I'd gotten looking east to the shrouded sun, and the engineering floor was free today, a 30-yuan value. Score!
0998. Across an island.
0999. The IFC, clear of fog.
1000. Its companion, still underway.
1001. Library and museum.
1002. Along the north bank.
1003. Surrounded by streams.
1004. 2-D bearing assembly, engineering floor.
1005. Damper piston.
1006. Tank and explanation. Since they need to keep a lot of water up top anyway for firefighting purposes, they can use it as an inertial mass to fight vibration from wind and earthquakes.
1007. Damper and rubber shock absorbers.
1008. Motor and the top of the tank.
1009. Two-floor view.
1010. Not actually this solar-friendly.
1011. Motor transmission drive and cable belt. NEEEERRRRD.
1012. A nice display, but the buttons weren't working. A button alone is sufficient to raise hope in the heart of an engineer; when pushing it does nothing, it shatters then into shards of pure disappointment.
1013. Flower design in a park, coming down.
1014. Riffs of cloud over the city.
1015. Model of the north side.
1016. Outside; northwest on the wharf. It's a lot different when you can actually see all the way across the river.
1017. IFC towers and stadium.
1018. Pearl bridge, ground level.
1019. All the way up, finally.
1020. (not germane)
It's been nearly an hour. If I've still got nothing by 2, I've got to hit the road; I know where there's a shipping desk that's not a form and bad communications, and there's touring I have to do.
Well, that was a bust. Can't ship the pack, missed half my points due to the rain. This run of bad luck means it's time to stay in, cut losses, and drink rather than head out to the stadium and see Evergrande live.
1021. A streaky skyline.
1022. In the park; raining like hell.
1023. Peacock spreads out.
1024. Hill of stone sheep. I didn't see the 五羊 statue due to the rain, so this will have to do.
1025. Lake pavilion.
1027. Weathered rocks and greenery.
1028. Point in the lake.
1029. Bridge into angry clouds.
1030. Bridge in the rain.
v65. Rain hammers the lake.
1031. Island in the rain.
v66. Water falling in just sheets.
1032. A land crab enjoying the wet weather.
1033. Rain and greenery.
1034. In the tropical jungle.
After a quick hike around the perimeter, I got to the museum, got through the water curtain in front of the ticket office, and in.
1035. Artifacts from the Han tomb.
1037. Ceramic pillow from a HK capitalist collection.
1038. Tomb furnishings; even the dead gotta eat. Later, there were dog figures described as "hounds" and 家犬, the first time I'd seen that 'dog' character in China. It's more usual in Japan, where 狗 is largely unknown, so there's probably a hound/dogge thing going on here like we had happen in English, and which I strongly suspect happened in Russian as well.
1039. Rain on the tomb mound.
1040. Map of the tomb.
1041. Short lintels. The internal rooms have about a 5'6" clearance, but the doors are 4'6" to 5', so even the ancient Chinese would've had to stoop in.
1042. In the tomb. The artifacts have been mostly removed, with only the dust of one of the sacrificed concubines remaining in situ in a glass case, and taking pictures of that and signboards just felt weird.
The secret to haggling is the willingness to walk away. Not in a git of pique, but just trying to get out of the damn deal. I talked my last souvenir (for the boss) down to cost, mostly by trying not to buy the damn thing. I got an unparalleled deal (probably not actual cost), but I DIDN'T WANT TO FUCKING BUY THIS THING.
The reason, of course, is that the sales people get a flat percentage commission on sales, so whatever they shift, no matter how little, they get a cut. On the street, you'll be able to walk away if you can't get to a price the vendor's happy/comfortable with.
1043. A worse death trap. For a museum in an area with this much rain, the drainage here really sucks. No wonder the gift shop was cutting such impressive deals.
1045. Towers in the evening haze.
1047. Clearer from the IFCs.
1048. The gleam of a relatively-clear Guangzhou night.
The nuker may also be inactive, but there's still the kettle and the sink, and I didn't live nearly a year in the Ostmark for nothing. A couple minutes in the near-boiling-water immersion bath, and the microwave meal from the 7-11 is ready to eat as well, for solid food in addition to bar snacks.