02/05/2006 33 °C
After the glory of Lushan, and the relative smallness of Jiujiang we headed for Jingdezhen, a small "village" of 2 million people and we even saw one of the world’s largest rivers, the Yangzi. Here is a picture of a street we walked down in Jingdezhen.
Whilst in Jingdezhen we were looking for an internet cafe down a street not to dissimilar to this one. Upon finding it we were treated to plenty of stares from some of the local kids. After about 30 minutes one of them mustered up the courage to ask us to come and have dinner with them. So we went down some lane with these guys, who turned out to be from the local high school. There were about 12 of these guys crammed around a table, only one or two could speak very little english. Between their little english and Liam's mild chinese we managed to talk to them and answer their questions.
After the meal, which had plates of diced pigs heart and another of sea snails. They asked if we would play basketball with them, mainly because Liam told them I could dunk. I had to prove myself. They then lead us to their school and the basketball court. It was about 8pm at this stage and pretty dark. Someone went and got a ball and I had to dunk it for them. Thankfully it was pretty low because otherwise, my full belly and jeans would not have let my reach the ring.
Once they got their fill of my dunks we played a small game and then went and cleaned up, got a photo and left for our Hotel. That was one of the most interesting nights we have had yet!
The next stop was Quzhou. We divided most of our time there between eating hot pots, getting massages and driving on the wrong side of the road into on-coming traffic. In a taxi we heard about the legendary taxi 0437, the taxi driver pointed him out as the fastest in town. We were desperate to get the chance to ride with him and amazingly, one morning while in need of a taxi we saw #0437 screeching around the corner on two wheels and managed to get him to pull the handbrake and let us in. We fulfilled our dream and sat in with the master.
After Quzhou we made our way to the site of the famous West Lake in Hangzhou, or as the Chinese refer to it "heaven". I'd be surprised if heaven consisted of thousands of Chinese wearing the same baseball cap, piling out of coaches and following someone with a flag and a megaphone, but the lake is actually quite spectacular.
Given that there are Chinese restaurants scattered around the lake and that you can hire bicycles for a small fee, I would not be at all displeased if I died and had to live in Hangzhou.
We're currently in Ningbo feeling a little marooned. We had planned to be on an island called Puotoshan today but our attempts to get there yesterday did not come to fruition. We have found ourselves attempting to travel through one of China's busiest holiday periods which began yesterday, and the bus to the ferry terminal came to a shuddering one hour halt in some really sticky traffic jam on the way. After waiting the first hour out, bailing on the Puotoshan trip went from being "not the worst idea ever", to "a taxi to Ningbo please". Things could certainly be worse though. We're staying with one of Liam's students brothers and we have plenty of fake DVD's to get through, as well as mini lobsters (just red river yabbies I assume) to get through down at the local restaurant.
We have been here for about 4 days and had this little beauties every day. Here is a picture of Liam tucking into one...
Once again tomorrow we will brave the holiday traffic and attempt to head to Shanghai. A few days there and then it's on to Beijing!