Trip Start Dec 30, 2007
Trip End Jul 14, 2008

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Flag of China  ,
Monday, April 14, 2008

The bus from Guangyuan to Zhaohua is a six seat mini-bus that leaves when full.  Our driver was chuffed to bits that two westerners had got on and even more chuffed that I knew a few words of mandarin.  This only led to about 5 mins of conversation however before I ran out of things I knew how to say.  We spent the next 25 mins grinning at eachother. 

Zhaohua itself, like much of China, is in a state of transition.  What a few years ago would have been a sleepy villiage, with a bit of history, is now being built into a tourist spot.  The old town wall has been rebuilt (by hand) the gate houses restored and lots of hotels and shops are in the process of being built.  At the moment there are only two hotels that are open, a few resturants and a handul of shops.  Next year I reckon there'll be a dozen hotels at least.  In fairness to them they're building everything in what seems to be the original style, with lots of wood and handworked stone etc.  So while the villiage feel is disapppearing, I think the finished product will still be worth a visit.

But despite all this Zhaohua is not yet a tourist spot.  English isn't spoken anywhere and the locals were all very surprised to see two white faces in town.  Word spread quickly it would seem, and pretty soon people were peering at us from behind windows and doors and some of the braver ones shouting 'Hello!'. 

By far the best bit of the trip came on our second day there.  We headed out quite early and spent the entire day walking around the surrounding countryside.  The villiage is on the end of a peninsular formed by a bow in the river, with fairly sizable hills on all sides.  We head up one of these hills and are rewarded with some fanastic views.  But the best part of all was the tranquility of it.  We barely saw a soul all day and that is a rare thing in China! 

On the way back we stopped in Guangyuan to do some internetting before heading on to Xi'an.  If people in Zhaohua seemed surprised by our presence, it was nothing compeared to the girl in the internet cafe.  I've never seen a jaw drop quite like that before.  It took her about a minute to recover.
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