08 May, 2008

Nothing could be finer, than to finally enter China, in the mor-oror-ning

Actually it was shortly after lunch, but what's a few minutes between friends?

The border crossing was a treat, excepting for the fact that as the first of the Europeans to cross I received the full luggage search treatment. Now try explaining a full set of motorcycle clobber in your luggage to a grim and stern customs officer! Needless to say I had to empty my (very carefully packed) backpack and repack it again. At this point I "gran and bore it" as I didn't want too many questions asked about my forthcoming plans to buy a bike and ride aroudn China (questions which I thought would inevitably lead to statements such as " you don't have a Chinese licence and as a non-resident it is illegal for you to purchase and/or ride a motorcycle). Of course, my fellow travellers were just waved through without even having to open their bags :-( Half an hour later we were through customs and immigration without any other incidents, and it was time to board the bus to Nanning.

As soon as we got on the bus I was surprised by the overall higher standard of living in China. The bus was spotless, drinks and meals provided, the freeways new and incredibly smooth and well signposted in both Chinese and Pinyin (English) . This impression continued as we entered Nanning - wide boulevards, huge modern highrises, massive shopping areas with McDonalds, KFC and Pizza Hut, hotels for $14 a night with all mod cons including electronic locks on doors, cable TV and a full complement of free bathroom supplies (soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, comb). All in all, very Japanese

Walking down the main shopping street that night I marvelled as groups of hundreds of older Chinese waltzed in the parks, and younger ones danced to hip hop beats. It was only later that I realised that Nanning (population 1.5million) is a model city (it holds an annual Asian expo in December) and once you get beyond the downtown area, and into the back streets, that it starts to approximate your typical asian large city. ... .and so it was on to my next task - find a motorcycle to take me through China - but that's a story for another day. :-)

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