We’re moving quickly, these past two days. After leaving Little Chang’An, we rode the rails down to Nanning, the provincial capital, where we had only an evening wander and a sleep before catching another southbound train in the morning. Our destination: Daxin 大新 “Big New” county, a stop up the Zuo River, which flows out of nearby Vietnam. We came here for the Zhuang villages, more Guangxi countryside, and a chance to conduct a very cursory comparison of life on either side of the China-Vietnam border.
We’ve ended up in Mingshi 明仕 “Enlightened Official.” But while the cadres here may indeed be clear-sighted, nothing else is. The most impressive sight is in the dining area / garage at our guesthouse: a technicolor, wall-sized, highly-edited photograph of those fantastic karst hills, stretching to the horizon on a perfect summer day. We were not privy to this view. We just saw a whole lot of mist, and the townsfolk saw a whole lot of us.
This is a place where not much goes on, especially in the winter. Women hack at the dry rice paddies with their hoes, spreading manure and burning last year’s damp stalks. The men sit by the roadside, warming themselves by their little charcoal pits, occasionally hopping on a motorcycle to run some errand or another. The passing of the daily bus to Longzhou bus makes everyone stop and stare. In this setting, a foreign toddler lugging stuffed animals down the road and digging in the dirt provides hours of something for everyone to watch.
So after one day, we’re getting out of here. We’re sitting with some locals by the roadside, staring into the mist, waiting to glimpse that bus to Longzhou.
Below: pictures, including some from that ride to Longzhou.