We spent last night in Longzhou, a once-forgotten town near the Vietnam border that was once part of revolutionary base headed by Deng Xiaoping. These days, the picket lines continue, in the form of a puzzling number of border defense police checkpoints–which required our buses to stop and the passengers in the first three rows to hold up their ID cards. Signs everywhere urge citizens to take part in ‘upholding order,’ which, as explained, is their duty on behalf of a ‘strong border.’ Other signs post big-character PSAs on HIV prevention.
Tag Archives: Guangxi 桂
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’re down from the mountains and now in the hills. And what strange, beautiful hills they are. This is Guangxi Province, famed for its surreal karst landform tableaus, with endless gumdrop-shaped hills towering above winding rivers and swirling mists. Just look at the back of a Twenty RMB bill to see how this scenery of this place (Yangshuo, anyway) figures in the Chinese imagination.
We arrived in Sanjiang two days ago, reaching our first prefecture-level city, with all its grocery and heated-hotel-room luxuries, since beginning the trip. But there was one ol’ reliable that failed us: ATMs. We needed cash from our foreign account, and not only did this capital of a sizeable chunk of Guangxi surprisingly lack all the usual big banks (Bank of China, ICBC, and China Construction Bank), but also its local branch of China Agricultural Bank, with all its prominently displayed Visa and Mastercard network symbols, was in fact capable of accessing neither. So much for a heated hotel room; without some cash, we’d be lucky to find a good overpass to sleep under (although the one pictured on the right would certainly do in a pinch!). Continue reading