This is the diary of a trip to China organised by Lily and Frank. Frank who runs the Li River International Travel Service and Lily works in the Guilin City offices.
It was sorted out in England by Jane and Mary.
At the time of the travel the rate of exchange was £1 = 8.2 Yuan, Kuai (Pinyin for dollar) or RMB.
To see a slideshow of all the photos click here.
To see where the photos wee taken click here.
We had driven up to Bill and Mary's on Monday evening, took a Parker's taxi on Tuesday morning to Heathrow, Terminal 5 and parted from Bill and Mary.
We have breakfast in the Club World lounge.
The Dreamliner takes off shortly after noon and lands in Shanghai at 6am this morning.
As we have boarding cards for a flight today we buy a discounted ticket on the Maglev (
We wait for the 7:22am "flight".
It now only goes at a maximum of only
301 kph (from July 2011 the maximum speed on high speed railways has been
300 kph because of safety concerns over possible corruption/bribery in the construction process)).
We alight at its terminus eight minutes later.
We purchase tickets in the form of radio cards for the station near the hotel where we will be staying.
We get on the Line 7 train.
The trains are separated from the platform by a barrier with doors in it.
At each station more and more people get on.
At what we think is our destination we get off and discover the Changqing Road is not the same as Changshu Road.
We leave the station and spend an abortive few minutes trying to hail a taxi.
We go back into the station, buy more tickets, and wait on the platform for a train with room for us and our luggage.
Eventually we split up, the girls go for one door and the boys go for another.
The next has room for us all, well just enough.
We alight at Changshu Road which connects with Line 1, a fact we should have noted earlier.
We walk along narrow roads lined with plane trees and small shops.
We walk through several warm showers.
At last we arrive at the Ju Lu Garden Villa hotel.
They have two rooms for us.
Bill and Mary take a fourth floor while we gratefully accept the larger ground floor room.
It is now about 10:30am (3:30am at home).
We arrange to meet at 1pm.
We have a nap.
Graham and the others venture out.
Jane stays to sleep.
The first objective is a beer.
We ignore the World of Beer emporium but make note of the neighbouring restaurant.
We enter a bar which sells beer but won't.
The lady, after exhausting her attempts at sign language, points to the entrance door which tells us the bar is open only between 17:00 and 3:00.
We leave and eventually find a burger bar where we have Tsing Tao beer.
We are going to take a 90 minute walk around the French Concession using Mary's guide book to show us the way.
First we have to walk to the start which is a hand reading room with cafe.
We wander with the guide book but fail to find the wet fish market.
We stop at Zhou Enlai's house.
Entrance is free.
We walk around the rooms.
The top two floors were used either as a dormitory or as mixed office and bedroom.
Mary is admonished for using flash on her camera.
We stop in an antique shop with cafe for the boys to have a
45 RMB beer and for Mary to have a milk shake.
Ambience costs a lot.
We do not go around the Sun Yat Sen museum but make our way back to Fumin Road.
Since we were last in Shanghai (September, 2005) smart phones are now extremely popular as are silent electric scooters.
Cyclists ignore pedestrian crossings and traffic lights and ride anywhere - rather as in London.
We see an occasional policeman whistling and waving arms at a road junction also controlled by traffic lights.
Graham returns to the hotel to pick up Jane.
We all meet up in the restaurant spotted earlier.
Bill is quaffing a
26 RMB600ml of Tsing Tao beer.
We select various dishes which are brought to the table one at a time.
We are given plastic gloves with which to eat the spicy ribs.
At the end the brown rice and nuts in a very hot porcelain bowl arrives and is devoured.
The meal costs us
289 RMB per couple.
We return to our room and have a Ballantines provided by Bill.
Graham has walked 8 miles today.
We retire at 8pm.
We are such lightweights.
We wake too early at midnight.
We try to go back to sleep several times.
We get up at 8am and go to the hotel reception where we agreed to meet Bill and Mary at 9am.
At 9:10am Graham returns to the room and phones and wakes up Mary.
In reception we agree to take a taxi to the MagLev station.
Graham and Jane wander out into the rain armed with umbrellas.
We amble towards the Ji'an temple and stop at a noodle cafe where we have beef and noodles costing
26 RMB for both.
It is delicious.
The rain is heavier.
We decide to return to the hotel.
We pack and search the television for English.
We find a dreadful film with subtitles.
At noon we check out and wait in the reception area for the others.
They have been to an HSBC bank to try to renew access to Mary's account in Hong Kong.
They were unsuccessful but may be lucky in the future.
We take a taxi at 1pm to the MagLev station.
It's still raining.
We ask a local how to get to the station as the driver did not drop us at the most convenient spot.
We find the station and buy 4 tickets at
50 RMB each.
Bill wonders if it would have been cheaper to have taken the taxi all the way.
We are early.
We make our way to boarding gate C82.
There are no places where we can have lunch.
Mary discovers beer in a shop.
Three of us are happy.
The plane is delayed by an hour.
We take off somewhere about 6:30pm.
The flight is full.
We have a small meal with tomato juice as no alcohol is served on internal Air China flights.
We arrive at Guilin at 9:15pm and, after collecting our luggage, we are met by Lily, Frank, Joseph (a guide we have met before) and two other men.
The two other men are the drivers.
We go with Lily and Mr Pung, a friend of Lily's.
Lily explains the itinerary for this part of the trip, that is till we leave on the bullet train on Sunday.
Mr Pung is chairman of the local Community Party representatives.
We are driven to the Bravo Hotel where we check in and say goodbye to the gang whom we shall meet at 9:00am tomorrow.
Frank still worries a lot.
We go to our rooms G721 and G708.
We gather in 708 and have some medicinal Ballentines.
We retire to bed at midnight.
Graham has walked much more than
2.5 miles as he walked an extra mile whilst his iPhone was being charged up at Pudong airport and he was searching for a free wifi password but failed to find one as the machine at C58 was not working.
Today is the 80th anniversary of the end of the Long March (more...).
How it was reported on the news (more...) and how it was shown in the USA (more...).
We have a better night's sleep.
The alarm goes off at 7:15am.
We meet the others in the Chinese restaurant for breakfast at 8:00am.
We check out and get into two cars.
Jane and Bill are with Lily and Mr Pung.
Graham and Mary are with Frank and Mr Qing.
We drive north for two and a half hours.
We see a bullet train.
China is building bullet trains to all major cities.
We also see the construction of the Guilin to Changsha expressway, 500 km in length.
At the outskirts of Ziyuan we stop for lunch.
Jim joined us a couple of miles ago with his colleague, Mr Wan.
At the restaurant we have puer tea which has been matured in a dried orange.
We drink this at a tea drinking table outside.
We are then ushered into a room with a round table and a gas burner in its centre.
There are ten of us.
Frank and Lily like us to try different foods so we do.
Boiled stone frog tadpoles in a spicy broth, followed by locusts and chilis followed by bamboo rat which has lots of bones and claws.
One of the vegetables we have is tasty rice plant stems.
We wash it down with beer and green tea.
After lunch we are driven into the southern part of Hunan Province where we stop at the Baijiaozhai Scenic Area.
Here we all clamber into two-seater cable cars to climb up the mountain.
It takes about 20 minutes to get to the top.
During the last stretch of the ascent shrieks of genuine terror from a girl in a cabin ahead shatter the otherwise peaceful silence of the ascent.
Unfortunately it is very misty at the top so we have to view Lily's photos.
Whilst the others went for a walk along a narrow pathway(more...), Graham waits under a tree and writes today's diary.
After an hour the others rejoin Graham and tell him he didn't miss much as it was all shrouded in mist.
Some locals take photos of the grey-haired ladies.
We take the cable car back down the mountain.
Graham is not uncomfortable as the bottom of the valley is hidden by cloud.
It is spotting with rain.
We are driven back to Ziyuan where Jim works.
We go to his favourite restaurant - Lou Shang Qing (please up stairs) and the ten of us sit on low seats at a round table.
Oil tea soup, stone frogs, fish, spoiled eggs, leopard palm, green tops, tofu are served.
It is washed down with local white wine - a rice wine.
Frank has a very good memory and recalls incidents we have experienced together with their exact date.
It is incredible.
We leave and check in at the Sheng Yuan Hotel.
We give Lily and Jim our gifts.
There's a Windows XP computer in the room connected to the internet.
At 8:10pm we visit Bill and Mary in room 716.
We eagerly await Frank who would like to try Bill's whisky.
Eventually he arrives and apologises for his lateness.
Frank explains that his daughter, a dermatologist in Guangzhou Province has been invited to work in South Dakota.
Frank was trying to persuade her to do so even though there would
be many hurdles to overcome.
Frank explains the way China is governed.
He is delighted to receive our gifts.
We retire at 11:45pm.
We think it has been raining all night but when we draw the curtains we see there is a weir across the Zi river.
We all meet in the lobby.
We walk under the covered walk way which reminds us of the Summer Palace in Beijing.
We walk for five minutes by the river and enter a building.
On the first floor we are shown into a room with a table set out for breakfast.
We drink oil tea soup and munch taro and sweet potatoes and noodles and pumpkin buns.
We wash it down with green tea.
The cars have been driven to the building so we get in them.
We are given small bottles of arromatic peppers in vinegar.
We leave the town and after many miles we turn off the main road.
We pass through many villages where ducks, chickens, cats, dogs and children roam wild.
After many miles we come to a car park at a place call Jioujaigho.
Whilst Jane stays with Mr Wan the driver and goes on a short walk, the others climb many concrete steps and see several waterfalls
It is a very pretty scenic area.
We all return to the cars and retrace our route back to the main road.
We enter the village of Chetian (vehicle field) and pull up by a restaurant.
We are shown the kitchens and how they make oil tea soup - with tea, oil and some other ingredients.
A bowl of creepy crawlies is waiting to be cooked.
These are shui pa chong (water climbing insect).
We sit around a table and have four cups of oil tea soup.
We have to place our bowls in the same place we got them from in the tin.
We go upstairs for a large lunch washed down with weak cloudy rice wine.
We leave the restaurant and drive back to Ziyuan.
We pass a car which has hit a roadside cliff.
At Ziyuan we head for Guilin.
Bill and Graham are entertained by Frank.
He tells us the tale Alfred Bosshardt who was captured by a Red Army general and made to translate a French map of a Chinese province into Mandarin.
Frank also takes us through the early years of the Chinese Communist Party.
He senses we are falling asleep by asking us if we need Red Bull.
This is the drink the driver, Dragon, purchased earlier after lunch.
We get back to the Bravo Hotel and are allocated rooms 714 and 715 on the ninth floor.
They've got balconies.
We walk to a nearby restaurant with Frank.
Lily has gone ahead and reserved a table with Dragon.
Jim has gone to work.
Mr Tung has gone to a wedding celebration.
After the meal, which Frank kindly pays for, we walk back to the hotel and say goodbye to Dragon and Mr Tung who has had a disappointing wedding celebration.
Lily gives us a heavy bag of grapes and a box of red Kiwi fruit.
The Swansons and Graham buy some beer at a nearby shop which they consume in room 715.
We get up and go for a short stroll along the bank of the lake whilst Bill and Mary circumnavigate the lake
After breakfast we first meet Frank who has come to say goodbye.
Lily and Jim come to take us to the station.
Frank gives us our tickets and explains the process for boarding the train.
Graham talks to Frank about yesterday's in-car education session as a result of which Graham orders Alfred Bosshardt's 'The Restraining Hand' which will arrive at home before we return.
Graham will read it and then post it to Frank.
Jim drives Bill and Mary to the station and Lily drives the others.
At the station Lily receives a call from Frank saying that we must be upgraded to first class.
The 190 km journey would have cost
The upgrade costs
12.5 RMB Our luggage is scanned and Bill has to show his collection of penknives.
We say goodbye to Lily and take the escalator up to platform 2.
The carriage numbers are on the edge of the platform.
We are in carriage 1.
We pull our bags towards the carriage 1 marker but a man on the other side of the track whistles to us.
The locals understand that it is a shorter train so we walk back along the platform.
The train arrives and we embark.
We find our seats but they are not together.
Jane sits next to Graham who is sitting in his allocated seat.
Bill is happy to have a seat by a young Chinese lady who would like to improve her English.
The train departs and starts to accelerate.
The view from atop the trestles is very good but then the train enters a tunnel through a mountain.
The top speed as shown on the laser display board is 247 kph.
Sometimes it slows down to 90 kph.
We arrive in Rongjiang at about noon.
We are disappointed that the train journey has mainly taken place in tunnels.
Jonathan meets us and introduces us to Mr Guan the driver.
We are taken into the city and are dropped near a street market.
Amongst other items are bags of dead bees, dead locusts, and live chickens.
Jonathan buys some light brown bulbous root vegetables (later discovered to be called Jicama (more...)).
We walk to a restaurant.
We are served far too much food together with the white raw root which has the texture and taste of a water chestnut.
We return to the minibus and leave the city.
We stop by a ferry which takes us across the river Duliu to a Dong village.
We walk around it chatting to the ladies and girls who are embroidering belts or threshing seed-bearing twigs.
We make our way back via the ferry to the minibus.
A little later we come to a village where lots of tables are laid out at one side of the road.
On the other side of the road the food is being cooked in very large woks sitting on top of wood fires within oil drums.
600 people will be attending the wedding reception.
A little later we turn off the main road and cross the river.
After many miles of climbing up and down we arrive at a hotel near Jiabang which Jonathan would like to check.
We go for a short walk followed by two bouncy puppies.
Jonathan declares that the Cloud Terrace Landscape Hotel is suitable for us.
At 6:30pm we walk down to the restaurant for a beer.
At 7:00pm Jonathan and Mr Guan join us for the free range chicken hot pot.
We also have pork and beans, peanuts, fatty pork chunks, and various leafy vegetables.
It is a good meal.
We retire to our rooms at 8:00pm.
Today Graham has walked
We have run out of toilet paper.
Graham is unsuccessful in getting a replacement as the girl with the short black skirt does not understand him.
With Jonathan's help a new roll is obtained.
The roll has no centre.
It is a solid roll which fits into the bamboo holder.
We gather at 8:00am for breakfast - noodles, apple juice and tea.
We leave at 9:00am and climb higher.
At a shelter we stop and Jonathan checks to see if there is a path around the rice terraces.
He declares there is one so Bill, Graham, and Mary join him whilst Jane stays with Mr Guan to improve her Mandarin.
The intrepid adventurers gingerly step down the path, balancing on the narrow edge of rice paddies, climbing up small steps in the walls of the small rice paddies.
We clamber back up to the road.
We start walking towards Jiabang.
It starts to rain.
Jonathan (43) calls the minibus but the rain stops so we continue to the village.
At the nearest opportunity Bill purchases a six-pack of beer for
Two cans are consumed whilst walking down the street and it's only 10:30am.
We return to the minibus and are driven to Cong Jiang for lunch.
After lunch we climb up the mountain to visit the Dong village of Shuang Jiang where ladies are spinning wool
We walk through the village on a path separating two streams and reach a place where some ladies are rhythmically beating a roll of material with mallets to force the egg white and dye into the cloth
We go down the mountain and after a roundabout way we join the Guiyang to Guilin Expressway (G76 Xiamen - Chengdu,
2192km when complete).
After passing through a couple of long tunnels we turn off towards Zhaoxing ancient town.
Since we were here in 2009 it has grown immensely.
Not only is there an expressway but there is also a bullet train and a new town.
At the entrance to the scenic area a fee has to be paid.
We drive past caravan parks until we come to a barrier past which we cannot go.
We unload the minibus and walk with our suitcases the two hundred metres to the Zhaoxing Hotel. We are shown to a small room and Jonathan gets it changed to a larger one but still much smaller than Bill and Mary's.
This hotel was built only two years ago.
Jane is not happy as there is no room to open the suitcases.
At 6pm we go downstairs to meet with Jonathan but he is late.
When he turns up and stops using his phone, Graham explains the room situation.
To everyone's surprise Jonathan asks Graham "so how should we handle this?".
Graham suggests that a larger room similar to Bill and Mary's is found.
Graham checks out room A307 which is much larger than A203 and moves some of the stuff into it.
Jonathan asks for the suitcases to be moved by the hotel staff.
We walk through the town to where Jonathan has a friend who owns a restaurant.
We have a good meal and are happy to walk without driver and guide back to the hotel.
Jane and Mary peruse dress and toy shops.
Bill and Graham buy a bottle of Red Star for
We return to the hotel and have a night cap together in Bill and Mary's room.
We discuss Jonathan's excessive use of his phone and his lack of local knowledge.
Today Graham walked
Jane has discovered bones she did not have.
The beds are very hard.
It feels as though we have been lying on a thin duvet laid on a board above a set of springs.
We go downstairs for breakfast in this hotel called the Zhaoxing Hotel.
Breakfast is laid out on a round table.
We each have a knife and fork, a round plate, and a china cup with a handle.
On each plate is a sugar lump and beside each plate is an individual portion of Anchor butter and a glass.
On the Lazy Susan are jars of jam, a plate of sponge cakes, a carton of milk, a carton of orange juice, a plate of Frosties, a plate of apple slices, a plate of toast and a plate of scrambled egg.
Jonathan does not listen to us nor, we suspect, to Frank.
He brings us a plate of noodles.
Pots of green tea and coffee arrive followed by a plate of fried eggs.
We ask for chopsticks with which to eat the noodles.
Bill and Mary have not slept well.
Their room overlooks a road and the windows are not double-glazed.
Furthermore, their ceiling is the floor of the room above, so every step taken there is loudly audible.
At 9:30am a new driver arrives to take three of us and Jonathan up to the Dong village of Tang'An. Only local vehicles are allowed to do this.
Jane stays behind to roam the streets.
At Tang'An we walk through the village to the drum tower where there is a set of different tanks for washing vegetables, feeding animals and washing clothes.
Above the tanks is the drinking area.
We start our hike down among the paddy fields to the lower Dong village of Xiage.
There are lots of steps and stepping stones.
Jane would not have liked it.
Frank phones Jonathan who passes the phone to Graham.
Graham reassures Frank that we are all OK.
We pass a group of Dutch and Belgians climbing up.
A stick insect is spotted.
A man cries out to us.
Jonathan is on his phone and is ignoring the man.
Graham shouts to Jonathan who deals with the man.
He wants a light for his cigarette.
Jonathan leaves him his lighter. We continue on down to Zhaoxing.
The views have been stunning.
We arrive at last night's restaurant to be greeted by Jane and our driver.
Today's lunch is beer duck in a bowl on a gas burner.
The hot and sweaty walkers eagerly drink the cold beer.
The meal is tasty.
We walk back to the hotel for a brief siesta.
We are driven up to the Dong village of Jitang and slightly further on to the Five Dragon Temple.
We walk back into Jitang and visit a couple of drum towers and shops.
There is a group of men, which Jane photos, deciding the fate of the world.
The men are pleased with the photo.
We are driven back down the winding narrow road to a Kodak spot overlooking Zhaoxing.
We return to the hotel and share the last two cans of beer.
We dine at a nearby restaurant and have a bowl of free range chicken.
While the cook hacks up a chicken into small chunks, the action generates more bones, or appears to do so.
We walk up the street to the outdoor performance area and sit on a narrow bench in the third row from the front.
We watch a Dong opera.
There are Mandarin subtitles displayed to the left of the stage and Chinglish ones to the right.
Good use is made of the overlooking hillside.
The performance lasts about an hour and is full of swish dance routines.
The view of the performance is marred by the ubiquitous use of photo-taking phones.
We return to the hotel and have a Red Star nightcap.
After another disappointing breakfast we drag our suitcases back to the barrier.
Mr Guan arrives with the minibus.
Our suitcases are loaded and we clamber aboard.
We first pass through the town of Luoxiangzhen which was not here three years ago.
We enter the G60 expressway and in a short while we turn north onto the S15.
This is a new expressway.
After 90 minutes we pull off into a service station but it is not manned and the toilets have not been cleaned for ages.
We drive to the next one which is empty and spotless but lacking soap and towels.
The journey along the S15, S84, G60 and S25 takes us along mountain tops and through many tunnels.
It is a wonderful piece of engineering and is not being used a lot.
The price of the
210km expressway journey is
After another twenty minutes we enter Zhenyuan, an ancient Han town (more...).
We check into the Fucheng Hotel in the old part of town.
We have lunch of sour and spicy pork ribs chopped into small pieces.
It is quite well endowed with chillis.
After lunch we walk to the Black Dragon Cave where we visit several temples on the side of a cliff but we do not visit any large cave.
There are magnificent views of the town from the topmost temple.
During a visit to one of the temples, Jonathan loses us because he considers the use of his phone more important than looking after his visitors.
Graham has a word with him.
We continue the visit but climb down a lot of steps.
We meet Jane who has been waiting for us.
We walk back over the ancient bridge and then we wander around the older parts of the ancient town.
We step into one of the old houses and visit its old rooms including a gilded double bed.
We walk back down to the old street and leave Jonathan so he can spend time on his phone.
We slowly wander in and out of the shops and return to our hotel.
We visit the Swansons for a preprandial Red Star (Hongxing).
We join the others in the lobby and walk up the street to a restaurant overlooking the river Wu Yang.
On the way we stop to admire the changing colours of the Black Dragon temple lights
Tonight's main dish is fish in sour soup but without chillis.
It is very pleasant.
Jonathan apologises about using his phone.
On the way home we purchase a bottle of Hongxing.
We return to consume the last drops of the previous bottle.
We have breakfast in the hotel dining room.
We leave Zhenyuan at 9:15am in the direction of Gulong.
The country roads are good until we turn off the main road to go to Gulong which is narrow and bumpy.
A lot of traffic is on its way to the Miao Leshung Festival. About a kilometre from the town we stop as the road to the town is blocked.
We park and walk into town.
There are masses of people, many in their different Miao costumes.
At noon the big parade starts and we watch it from the central reservation of a dual carriageway.
The parade is split into villages designated by a sign bearer
We are interviewed by a television station.
After the parade is over we walk up the Main Street.
Jonathan finds us a place where we can drink beer on the pavement.
We are treated as local celebrities.
People take photos of us and of them with us.
After the beer stop we walk up the hill to a funfair area.
Jonathan asks where the bull-fighting is taking place.
We walk to the arena past lots of stands selling dog meat.
Jane finds a plastic stool and waits while the rest of us watch the bullfight.
Bill suggests that the two bulls are homosexual as they frolic with each other and one just wants to wallow in a pool.
Eventually they lock horns and a very short fight ensues.
A large number of men appear and, using ropes, drag the bulls apart
One is led down a tunnel and the other is presented to the judges.
To us it looks like a draw.
We wander down to where they are going to do flute pipe dancing.
Mary finds us seats and we all sit down.
Jonathan comes over to us and tells us the performance doesn't start till 7 pm.
He tells us we should walk back to where the opening ceremony took place as that is where afternoon flute pipe dancing is performing.
We take a ten minute shortcut.
Thirty minutes later, having walked through a gravel based car park we arrive at an arena where singing is taking place.
There's a camel at the entrance.
A set of drummers is the next act which is followed by a singer.
It is hot and time to leave.
A Chinese model is standing by the side of a giant Miao hat.
Whilst Jonathan is on the phone and finishing his cigarette we have time to take photos of the model.
We return to the start of the parade and get a local bus back to the car park.
Mr Guan quickly brings the minibus to us.
We return along the narrow road to the main road and drive to Kaili via the G60.
The expressways are magnificent.
We stop in east Kaili.
Jonathan gets out but fails to open the door for Jane.
Mr Guan comes to her rescue.
Bill and Jane and Mr Guan cross the road to take photos of two very oversized Miao crowns.
We are driven to Jidao which is a small Miao village across the river from the main road.
We stop outside our home stay.
Our rooms are on the second floor.
We arrange to have dinner at 7:00pm.
Bill goes for his customary evening shower only to find that there is no water.
This gives us time to have an aperitif of Hongxing with Bill and Mary.
Jonathan comes into our room.
He is going back to Guiyang and a new guide will take over.
He says he has let us down with all his phone calls.
He is in charge of several guides and they have problem tourists so they have kept him on the phone.
He will leave us after dinner.
At seven we have dinner downstairs.
It is a bowl of pork soup together with tasty accompaniments.
We say goodbye to Jonathan.
Mr Guan will drive him to Kaili and he will take a train to Guiyang.
Mr Guan will bring the new female guide back to Jidao.
The lady of the house, Chen Qin, speaks some English and introduces us to her relatives and an older friend.
Two ladies serenade each of us and give us a bowl with rice wine in it
We retire upstairs for a drop more Hongxing.
The shower is now working so Mary makes the most of it.
Jane has been WhatsApp wordlwide.WeChatting with the lovely Frank who is still worrying about us.
WeChat is the Chinese social-media app for smart phones used by 800 million people, similar to the number of users of WhatsApp.
The cock crows at 7am.
After Bill has used the shower Graham uses it.
Our new guide is at the sink next to it.
When the toilet is used, all paper must be put in the basket and not down the toilet.
All four of us walk down to the river and along the bank.
While Bill remains by the river waiting for a dipper he spotted earlier, the rest of us walk up past the paddy fields into the main part of the village.
We get to the central square where Jane points out what happened 7 years ago.
Graham is not so sure.
We return to the home stay and introduce ourselves to Kasumi, our 26 year old female Han guide.
She has a good smile and a good sense of humour.
We have a very good breakfast of noodles.
The six of us are joined by Chen Qin who takes photos of us.
Jane shows Graham the diary of 2009.
He is wrong.
We have been to Jidao before (more...).
Kasumi tells us of her last clients, an Israeli couple.
They insisted on taking country roads instead of the expressway to view Miao villages.
There were no Miao villages.
The journey took 5 hours instead of 3.
We learnt that Israelis won't stop for lunch and do not allow the driver and guide a lunch break.
We leave and are driven to Leishan where a rehearsal is taking place for the opening ceremony of a marathon.
It is starting to rain.
We go to Datung to see the granaries standing in water and the short-skirted Miao.
There are plenty of granaries but no costumed ladies.
We drive on to Shuidian where we walk in the rain to a master flutepipe maker's workshop but he has gone to the market.
We walk down alongside a stream where many waterwheels are diverting the stream into the paddy fields by emptying pipes of water into troughs
We reach Paika and the minibus.
We take the G60 to Qingman.
At Qingman, which we visited in 2009, we are greeted by three Miao ladies who welcome us with a song and some rice wine
We have lunch served by the three ladies who give us more rice wine.
The ladies are delighted to see the photos we took in 2009.
After lunch we visit Shiqiao.
On the way we admire the construction of a viaduct.
At the village we are shown how paper is made.
The pulp is watered and coated onto sieves.
The pile of sheets is dried on A-shaped hot walls.
We take a number of expressways to Libo.
Towards the end of the journey Graham plays some music from his iPhone through Kasumi's Bluetooth Q9 speakers.
After a few tracks we hear some of Kasumi's own Chinese and English recordings (more...).
She has a delightful voice.
We arrive at the Li Bo Zhang Jiang Bu Luo hotel.
After Bill has had a shower, the six of us walk across the street to a nearby restaurant.
As we walk past two large tables there is a chorus of "ni hao" and "hello".
We have our own room and our Chinese hosts order a good meal for us all.
Kelp is a new food for us.
It is a bit rubbery and lacks taste.
We leave the room and are greeted by the chorus again.
It is delightful.
We return to the hotel, and after a nightcap, retire.
As usual there is free WiFi in the hotel but a lot of websites are blocked (Google, CNN, Telegraph.co.uk, Guardian.co.uk, etc).
Facebook is always blocked.
BBC.co.uk is OK.
We cannot access our email as that requires Google access.
It was the same in Zhenyuan but not in Jidao.
We have breakfast in the cavernous cafeteria of the hotel on the second floor.
There are not too many others eating.
Congee and noodles are available together with fried eggs and other standard breakfast dishes.
We check out at 9:00am and are driven to Daqikong scenic area.
We walk up the side of a turquoise river to nearby to the Yaofeng cave.
Some of us cross the river and walk back down to a foot bridge where we meet Jane.
We return to the minibus and are driven to the Xiaoqikong scenic area.
The other end of the path is
We take a park bus to the first stop.
Here we can cross the river and enter Guangxi Province but we don't.
We walk upstream admiring all the mini waterfalls.
At the end of the set of waterfalls we get in a bus and are taken to the edge of the water forest.
We go no further as to do so would get our feet wet.
There appear to be no buses going to the west exit.
We take a bus back to the east entrance. Kasumi calls Mr Guan who is waiting for us at the west exit.
Whilst waiting for Mr Guan Kasumi buys a pomelo.
We sit down and eat the large juicy sections of the very fleshy fruit.
Mr Guan arrives and whisks us off to a restaurant.
It is very cold.
A flimsy plastic cup of green tea warms us up.
Our two hosts choose a very good meal for us.
We return to the minibus and drive the 255 km to Guiyang.
It is raining most of the time.
We stop at Longlinshan to take a photo of a golden dragon with a waterfall spouting from its mouth.
We arrive at the Novatel just before 6:00pm.
We have room 1409.
There are more than four million people in Guiyang and 44 million in Guizhou Province.
Shanghai is nearly six times the size of Guiyang.
At 6:30pm we go with Kasumi to the restaurant next door called Shuchu.
It is still raining.
Mr Guan is going to his grandchild's third birthday party.
There will be thirty guests.
Kasumi is quick to eat her meal.
She pays and goes home.
It is a thirty minute taxi ride from here to her one room accommodation.
We continue eating and finish the beer Kasumi has bought outside the restaurant but for which she is not charged corkage.
We return to the hotel and visit the wine bar on the 29th floor.
It is deserted but the views of night-time Guiyang are good.
We go to room 1416 for some Red Star and reflections on the day.
We have breakfast in the mixed Chinese and Western restaurant.
The highlight is the bread and butter pudding.
We leave the hotel at 9:00am.
Five minutes later Kasumi realises she has left her Bluetooth earphone at the hotel.
We pull over to the side of the street and Kasumi hails a motorbike to take her to the hotel.
Ten minutes later Kasumi returns.
She paid 10 RMB each way.
We are driven to the ancient Han town Tianlong Tunpu which was built by four blood brothers.
We try the local tea which has honey and ginger in it.
We wander around the streets and arrive at a hall where a performance of Ground Opera will take place shortly.
We are surrounded by Koreans who offer us local sweets.
Kasumi tells us that something like Kam Sam Eeda is Korean for thank you.
There are four men with wooden masks on their foreheads
The performance lasts about twenty minutes.
We have lunch at the entrance to the old town.
Our next stop is an old Buddhist temple in Jiachang which we had visited seven years ago.
It is more dilapidated and the old men are older.
A young girl is carrying a small terrapin in her hand.
We leave the town along a long narrow street and head for the expressway.
We are driven to the Zhijin Caves.
While Jane stays with Mr Guan the rest of us join a Chinese tour guide and a bunch of Chinese tourists.
The caves are vast.
One cavern is
40,000 sq metres.
There are many steps up and down.
Jane would not like it.
The stalagmites and stalactites are enormous and look like whatever you like.
At two places we have our photo taken.
After 90 minutes we emerge into daylight.
We walk down a long covered way, past some souvenir stalls, and into the photo counter.
Kasumi buys us our photos.
She is very kind.
We catch a shuttle bus
back to near the entrance and then walk down to the car park where Jane and Mr Guan are waiting.
Jane has walked with Mr Guan around a Miao village.
We are driven to Zhijin and get checked into the Hongzhou International Hotel.
Our room is 12098 but there is an odd numbering system.
We are next to Bill and Mary who are in room 12078.
At 7:30pm Mr Guan takes us up some steps, which lead to a walkway across the road and on to the Longchushishang restaurant, where Kasumi is waiting for us in a private room.
We have an excellent meal and walk back to the hotel where the minibus is parked.
Graham retrieves the two bottles of Red Star purchased in Tianlong Tunpu for
24 RMB one of which is opened and sampled whilst Mr Guan and Kasumi go in search of accommodation.
Graham bypasses internet censorship by using the SurfEasy iPhone app.
He can now read his emails, use Google, Facebook and read everything else.
We have breakfast with lotus fruit available.
There is no tea and no coffee but there is warm soya milk.
We walk along an old street in Zhijin but it is disappointing.
We stop at the first Buddhist temple in China dedicated to the god of wealth.
We walk to the end of the street and are put in a taxi to return to the hotel.
Shortly after Kasumi arrives on the back of a scooter.
We leave town for Weining.
As is usual a camera flashes to record the vehicle's registration plate in case a misdemeanour has been committed within the town.
The government has decreed that all houses built near expressways and bullet lines must be white.
We drive off the expressway and enter the village of Hua Zuo Xiang (Xiang is pinyin for village).
We have chicken hotpot in the Baiji cafe.
When we finish several villagers want to take our photo.
We return to the expressway.
There are more than 800 road tunnels on the expressways of Guizhou.
The route gets diverted at Hezhang because of a landslide and just before the toll gate Mr Guan gets stopped by the police.
He does not have the vehicle's insurance certificate.
One is sent as an image from the head office but he still gets fined
200 RMB and 3 points.
The points on his licence will last just one year.
We take a windy road through a Yi village to join the S20 expressway again.
Kasumi stops at a street market to buy some walnuts and a nutcracker.
We are amazed at the engineering that has gone into building the highways of high bridges and long tunnels close to the tops of mountains.
We drive through the clouds to Weining where we check into the Ceychan Hotel at 5:55pm.
It is the best in the town.
The temperature has dropped to
The hotel apologises for providing rooms with two single beds rather than a double bed.
The lighting in the room is the best we have had in Guizhou.
At 6:30pm we go to the restaurant next door to the hotel and have pork hotpot including pig toes.
Nevertheless it is another tasty meal.
After a shot of Red Star we retire to room 8209.
Jane goes to the toilet at 7am and flushes it.
Liquid overflows into the bathroom.
Graham calls the operator but no one speaks English.
This calls itself an international hotel.
Why? A man knocks on the door and assesses the situation.
Five minutes later a man with a large plunger comes and unblocks it.
We have breakfast on the third floor.
We share a table with a couple who are on a five day training course from the China Agriculture Department.
Weining is one of the poorest parts of China and grows a lot of potatoes.
We leave at 9:00am and take a short drive to the Cao Hai (Grass Sea Lake).
We don large green coats to keep warm.
We are now dressed like members of the Peoples Liberation Army.
We walk along a path to the boats and put on bright orange life jackets.
All six of us get into a six-seater boat.
A lady stands on the stern and punts us out into the lake.
There is a slight mist all over the lake but it is very peaceful.
We reach a sign which signals the furthest point of the voyage.
Several birds are photo'd.
We return to the starting point and walk back to the road.
Bill spots a hoopoe and is delighted.
We are driven along a long and winding road to Liupanshui where we have lunch at the Weining buckwheat rice hotpot.
We sit around an oven and are pleased to be warm.
The meal of chicken is very good.
The city is known as a cool city as it can get cold.
It is also known for its coal mining.
We find the expressway and drive to Guiyang.
Mr Guan is getting tired.
We go to the Jiaxiu Pavilion which we visited in 2009.
It is still beautiful.
We are taken to the hotel which seems to have lost our reservations.
Eventually we are allocated rooms 2017 and 2018.
We walk with Kasumi to a fish in sour soup restaurant but it is the wrong one.
We walk another 200 metres to the right one - Lao Kai Li SuanTang Yu.
Kasumi says she is not hungry and will just sit with us.
The food arrives and Kasumi changes her mind.
A whole cat fish is cooked in a sweet and sour broth.
It is all very good.
Three of us walk back to the hotel.
Bill and Mary go for a stroll but join us in the lobby where Kasumi is setting us up with WeChat.
We have a nightcap in room 2017.
We have breakfast on the third floor. At a nearby table is an adoptive traveller with a young Chinese girl about a year and a half old.
Many Americans come to China to adopt a child.
The child must be brought back to China every five years.
We meet Kasumi at 9am and are driven to the ancient walled town of Qingyan.
Once more we have reduced tickets because three of us were born before 1947.
There is no charge for three of us to enter and it costs
5 RMB for Jane to enter.
It is a short walk to the entrance gate.
Once through we climb the steps to enter the town by the Dingguang Gate set in the town wall.
We wander round the streets and where most of the street level rooms have been changed into souvenir shops, cooked food shops, dress shops, sweet shops, drum shops and Chinese medicine shops.
We pay a short visit to the house of Zhou Enlai's father.
A troupe of Grey Miao Dancers performs nearby
We walk back to the minibus and are told the next stop is lunch.
Well Kasumi had bought us some tofu and some wafer-thin nut bites so we are not hungry.
We plead with Kasumi that all we want to do is to get to the airport.
There are a lot of roadworks at the airport which is now not clearly signposted so we miss the turning.
Mr Guan got it right the second time and dropped five of us at the departure entrance.
We say goodbye to Mr Guan and award him a prize for being the best driver in Guizhou.
At the security gate inside the airport we say goodbye to Kasumi and award her a prize for being the best guide in Guizhou.
After getting through security we make our way to gate 307.
Mary is unable to find any beer.
We consume fruit and the nut bites purchased earlier.
We board the plane at 2:45pm.
A meal is provided - boiled rice and camouflaged pork into which is poured some chilli sauce out of a packet, two slices of orange, some mixed nuts, all washed down with apple juice.
We land at 5:15pm and get to our rooms in the Dazhong Airport Hotel at 6pm.
At 6:30pm we walk to the Airport Hotel South and pay
58 RMB per person for a buffet meal washed down by
20 RMB per bottle Tsingtao beer.
It is a bit tepid but tasty.
Some of us retire for a Red Star nightcap.
Mary declares she could not live in China.
One reason is she could not bear to live on a building site.
We leave the hotel at 7:45am and when we check in we find the plane is delayed two hours.
Jane can now stop worrying about her missing departure card as the lady at the check-in desk provides one.
After passing through security we go to the business lounge and have noodles for breakfast.
Bill and Mary, World Club travellers, spend a
160 RMB food voucher by a deserted departure gate.
The Boeing 777 moves away from the gate at 1:10pm.
It takes off at 1:33pm.
It's such a huge airport which is why it takes so long to take off without having queued.
We land at 1:53am having watched The Shallows, I.T., The Duel, Demolition, Money Monster, and listened to The Third Man.
We arrive at Bill and Mary's via Parker Cars at 7pm.
Jane goes to bed and Graham renews his taste for red wine as do his companions.
We leave Hampton on Friday morning and arrive home at 9am.
Since we last visited Guizhou in 2009 (more...) the following has happened in China:
Smart Phones Everyone seems to have a smart phone.
The two main brands are Oppo and Vivo.
However when they connect to the internet they cannot use Google, Youtube or Facebook or some other sites as these are still blocked by the Great Firewall of China (more...).
To get around this they can use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) app on their smart phones.
Motorways These are called expressways in China and are still being constructed.
In 2011 China (3.7 million square miles) surpassed the USA (3.8 million square miles) in the length of motorways built (more...).
The ones we travelled on had two lanes with maximum and minimum speed limits - 100 kph and 80 kph in the outside lane and 80 kph and 60 kph in the inside lane.
High Speed Trains Some are called bullet trains.
Tracks are being built to link all cities with a population of more than 500,000 inhabitants (more...).
According to the 2010 census 221 cities have a population of more than 500,000 and 81 cities are home to more than a million inhabitants.
Building construction Every city we saw has lots of high rise flats under construction.
Population During the 15 days we spent in China its population grew by 288,330, more than the combined population of Southampton (220,000) and Durham (68,000) (more...).
"Chopsticks are one of the reasons the Chinese never invented custard." Spike Milligan