Trip Start Sep 21, 2007
Trip End Apr 10, 2009

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hello my dear readers,

The last entry was from Guangzhou as I recall, so I will try to update you from there on.

Leaving Guangzhou is not a sad thing, especially if you're taking your girlfriend with you. We took the night train to Guilin and in the morning we arrived in bitter cold Guilin from where we hopped on a bus to Yangshuo - my fourth visit this trip (and our second together)! In Yangshuo it was really cold as well, so the first few hours we just spent under the blankets in our hotel bed, trying to warm up! Maybe I forgot how to deal with cold weather!

We stayed a few days in Yangshuo and then moved on to Peony's hometown on Hainan Island. We took another night train to Zhanjiang, from where we continued our trip by bus to Hai'an from where we took a ferry to Haikou. In Haikou it was too late to continue on to Peony's hometown Qiongzhong, so we stayed the night in Haikou.

The next day we took the bus to Qiongzhong, where I met Peony's mom.  Too bad we couldn't communicate for I don't speak Chinese (or Li for that matter) and that are the only languages she knows... The three of us then went to a local government building to apply for Peony's passport - a chance for me to experience the amazing world of Chinese bureaucracy. First Peony had to fill out quite a few forms and supply a dvd with passport photos and photocopies of her ID card. Having done that we needed to get a signed form from the police station in her home village, Shang'an. So the next day we went there, met Peony's dad (and mom again) and had lunch. After lunch we discovered that the head police officer was out on a meeting and wouldn't return anymore that day. The day after that we set out early and after waiting for a while we got the much wanted form. The head police officer wanted money for that, but when we asked for a receipt, he gave it to us for free... Back in Qiongzhong we gave the form to the local government office and we took a bus to Haikou. We got stuck in Haikou again and this not how I planned it, because that day was he 31st of December. So we spent New Year's Eve in a hotel room in Haikou and I didn't even see fireworks.

The next day we took the bus to Sanya, where the weather for the first time since leaving Guangzhou was quite good. We were welcomed by Chrysy and Kim, two friends of Peony. In Sanya we waited for the passport of Peony to come through, which we then had to pick up in Haikou. Sanya is not a bad place to hang around for a few weeks and that's what we did. We visited Dadonghai beach many times and got ourselves quite a nice tan. We also went out a few times and bought some dvd's which we watched on my laptop. We hang out many times with especially Kim and also Chrysy and May, who arrived in Sanya after us. I also got my Chinese visa extended in Sanya.

On January the 20th we started travelling again. We took a bus to Haikou and picked up Peony's long-awaited passport there. Then we booked a very expensive (probably having to do something with the looming Chinese New Year) night bus to Nanning. After crossing with the ferry to Hai'an, the bus continued through the night to Nanning.

In the very early morning we arrived in Nanning where it was very cold - especially for me, wearing shorts. Soon after having arrived in Nanning we were on our way to Daxin. Our bus broke down halfway and we wasted two hours waiting for a replacement bus. From Daxin we took a bus to Shuolong and from here we took a motorbike taxi for the last leg to the Detian Waterfall. The entry fee to this waterfall was rather expensive, but since we had travelled for over 5 hours, we visited the waterfall anyway. The Detian Waterfall is situated on the border between China and Vietnam and is quite impressive (even in winter, when the water level is at its lowest). We also walked to a market on the exact border: one side of the market is in China and the other side in Vietnam, so we walked a little bit into Vietnam - Peony's first foreign destination!
After this beautiful waterfall we headed back to Shuolong where we had to hire a van to get us back to Daxin from where we took the bus back to Nanning. In Nanning we took the night train to Kunming.

In Kunming we arrived in the late morning (after exactly one year I was back in Kunming) and went straight to a hotel close to the Lao Consulate. At the Lao Consulate we applied for a visa for Laos for Peony (I will buy mine at the border - which is not possible for Chinese). The next day we picked up the passport with Lao visa and explored Kunming. This day was very, very cold in Kunming and we were glad that we were able to book the last two night bus tickets to Jinghong in the Xishuangbanna region of Yunnan Province, very close to Myanmar and Laos, where there are a lot of different minorities. We arrived in Jinghong this morning and will explore some of the minority villages in the area before heading into Laos!

That about wraps it up. Not too long of an entry this time, maybe next time!

Everybody take care!
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