We woke up at 6 o’clock because of the sound of traditional Chinese music. We opened our eyes and saw lots of elderly people doing tai chi around us in the park. There was even a man with a sword. We were so excited that we couldn’t sleep anymore.
It was a wonderful day of a great walk in Guangzhou where we had already known everything – the subway, buses, cafes, distances. Walking on foot with backpacks lasted for six hours.
Cultural corner near Lychee Bay
Bamboo shaped ceramic fence, which is everywhere in China
Brass master in the street
Then we got to Fangcun, the most famous tea district of Guangzhou, and we tried lots of tea here and there.
We were not very surprised with the quality of tea, but in a couple of places the people were very nice.
We were particularly astonished with the taste of a highest quality JinJunMei for a price of ¥2300 per 1kg.
In the evening we had the happiest chance encounter with a Puer tea master.
We stayed at his shop for a long time and we drank lots of great shú Puer tea and had lots of nice talks with him and his friend. We had a lot of fun. Late at night Stephen hosted us at his home.
It rained of night. We woke up at 7 o’clock because of the sound of crackers and drums from over the hill. It was very foggy, so we couldn’t see what was going on there. We got out of the rural area does a highway pretty fast, and in general hitchhiking went fine. Will use the explanation of hitchhiking that Jason had helped us to make.
Our drivers bought us some food and drinks, gave us some candies, and once we were even brought to a home where we were treated with tea and we charged our phones. We were only once offered to be brought to a bus station, but we were already experienced and didn’t let it go far. We had our host request approved by Stephen who we had met and hung out with when we first arrived in Guangzhou, but he was only ready to host us if we could arrive before midnight. In the afternoon we got into a horrible traffic jam. We arrived at Guangzhou at 2:30 in the morning and went to the Lychee Garden to sleep. It was so warm that we didn’t even pitch our tent. We simply put our sleeping mats on the parapets and slept safely under the trees to be woken up in the morning by an adventure.
Despite Jason’s family’s resistance we got out of their hospitable house. We went with lots of relatives by two cars to have a look at the tea bushes and there we informed the parents about our plans to stay overnight in the tea terraces. The relatives didn’t realize what we were going to do and they started looking for a place for us to stay, and they found it.
The local family treated us with tea of their own producing from their own tea field, and it was of a very low quality of the smell and taste. Then the local family showed us the barn with instruments for producing tea.
Then the local family started asking us about our plans for the next day. We told them we were going to catch a car to go to the highway. After long negotiations they announced they “strongly disapproved of our adventure” and they could not host us to stay with them for that night. I was shocked.
This picture was taken after we were refused to stay. You can see how fake our smiles were.
After that we said goodbye to everybody and just went into the tea bushes. I think Jason was feeling very excited and a kind of disturbed.
After a couple of hours of admiration we looked around and pitched our tent on a hillside of a tea hill not far from a sanctuary. We went to sleep at 8:30 in the evening because it got completely dark.
That was a day of former classmates meetings. We were kinda surprised to see how it happens. Young men and women of 23 years old who graduated from their colleges a year ago and have mostly got jobs now got together at one classmate’s place around 3 o’clock in the afternoon. They were sitting in a circle in the living room drinking tea and eating peanuts discussing their businesses, while the host’s father and grandmother were sitting in the same room looking and them. Looking after them.
Then one of the girls went home by taxi with us because her home is the same direction to go. She had told us a lot about her very strict parents. When we parted Jason was still chatting with her and she invited us to her place to watch a movie together, and we were just about to go, when it was cancelled for an unclear reason, something like the girl’s mother suddenly desired her company to go to a relatives’. As far as I understood it was all just to prevent the girl from spending time with friends.
We watched a great movie in the evening about Monkey King and Longevity Monk.
We walked again with Jason around his place, and looked at some old houses nearby.
An old man started talking to us in the street and actually led us to the place where he now prays to his ancestors. It is a separate stone building with a table for offerings and a wooden carved box with open doors fixed on the wall where wooden bars with names of his family members are exhibited. You can see his grandfather had two wives.
There is an old school in the old district which was built by the 7-generation ancestor of that old man. A poster on the school wall says if you study well enough in that school you will get a scholarship from the villagers to enter the corresponding university
The old village is surrounded by vegetable beds, banana trees, ginkgo and papaya trees.
We went with Jason and his relatives to a tempe to pray to gods. There were numbers of people trying to take photos with us. We watched a service at the Buddha temple.
Then we were invited for dinner to Jason’s aunt living near there, so we stayed there overnight. Jason’s cousin can play GuZheng! Amazing.
Jason’s cousin playing GuZheng. JieYang, China, 19 Feb 2015
In the morning we went to see the local ruins. There used to be an old village there but it is abandoned now, there is only one elderly woman living there on her own. We had little baked buns in the street with coconut milk.
At home we all helped getting ready for Chinese New Year celebration. We fixed traditional red paper tapes with hieroglyphs to the side of the door, put up the red lanterns and bought a huge pack of crackers and fireworks. We went nearby to see Jason’s cousin – again a big tea board, like Jason’s father has. People seem to drink tea here everywhere and treat with it anyone who comes to their homes.
On the last day of the year people commemorate their ancestors – they put out food and tea for them and burn incense sticks, and they burn lots of pieces of paper that they especially buy for it. It’s done for the ancestors to be contended and wealthy up there in the heaven. People also pray to gods for wealth and prosperity. we had the dinner, then watched TV with a New Year program of songs and dances performed by national artists, and had lots of tea to drink. And you can hear noise of crackers and fireworks from early in the morning till next morning. Around midnight we also went outside to burn crackers and fireworks – that was extremely loud! A whole lot of fun!
The first hitchhiking day in China! We found a tollgate and stayed there for three hours. Then we took the subway and went to another toll gate. Another three hours later a road worker picked us up who didn’t speak any English. We luckily had a paper with us saying “highway S2 service area”. The road worker called his friend who could speak some English, and after long 3-side negotiations our driver dropped us of at the next service area.
At this time we were in contact on WeChat with our CS host from JieYang, and he said he could pick us up from somewhere. An hour later we arrived at the service area a guy going in our direction picked us up. It was 5 pm, and four hours later we arrived at XingNing where our JieYang CS host Jason Hong with his dad met us and took us home in their car. While going there we had a nice talk with Jason. He’s a 23-year-old graduated as a bachelor in business management from a university in BeiJing. At the moment he’s doing a year long voluntary service in YunNan as a physics teacher in a local school. In July when his voluntary work is over he’s going to do his master’s degree for one year in BeiJing and one year in Australia. His relationship with the parents are not very warm. As a second child he used to hide away from the police and spent most of his childhood at his granny’s place. He grew up an open-minded person. We immediately found lots of things in common.
That day we had a long long rest at home! When the lunchtime came we had our first experience of ordering food in a street café – quite successful! We used our tablet with a sign saying, “We don’t eat meat and poultry” in Chinese. After having food we took a boat for half an hour ride to subway station HuangSha near the city centre. The boat is a sort of city transportation, this it’s very cheap, only 2 yuan per person. There is a fish market at the dock there, so we enjoyed a sick-making smell and a sorrowful view of fish, turtles, crabs, and other creatures desperately waiting to become food.
In the late afternoon we came to BeiJing Lu for the third time already, which gave us a nice feeling of being familiar with the place. Our aim was to find good road maps of nearest provinces where we’d go hitchhiking. And we did find some maps but only in Chinese, and a Chinese-English tourist atlas of the whole country.
We took our supposedly last night walk around the Giant Buddha Temple yard and had dinner in the Buddhist restaurant near there.
We met Stephen, another “walking” CSer from GuangZhou. He’s an English teacher in a local school. We had a lunch together with his family. He has a wife and a son of 6 years old. For the dessert we had unforgettable little pieces of coconut jelly with sweet corn and sweet transparent grains made of rice flour. Stephen took us home, he gave us lots of tea as presents, and also draw traditional Chinese calligraphic wishes of happiness for the upcoming Spring Festival. The Chinese New Year wishes are written on red paper using black ink and special calligraphic brushes.
Stephen writes calligraphy. Youtube video
In the afternoon we went into the street to see the traditional Chinese lion dance performed by a local team. The team consists of about 15 young performers and several adults who are trainers. The trainers did the dance when they were young so the team is really experienced. I saw really interesting and difficult tricks of the lion when he takes the food from under a bench.
Stephen called one of his former students and the young man came by car. He took us to YuYin Garden, the place highly recommended by Rex.
We had dinner at Steve’s friend called Nana and it was the first time I cooked in a Chinese frying pan called wok! Then we were sitting on the roof of the 27-floored building, drinking beer, talking about stuff like genome biological rice harvested three times a year in southern regions; CouchSurfing and the Pass It On principle. And we saw light in the air from the headlamp of a plane flying by.