The microscopic demons of Xishugangbanna invaded the gastralaowai systems and sat around in the lower bowel regions muttering things about the small bumps and numerous turns of the Yunnan Expressway First Grade Freeway. The road is something akin to driving from Golden to Glenwood Springs and then immediately driving back. Except with ten times as many tunnels. And with a sign that instructs "Elephant Passage Don't Blow." And toll booths at each city. We spent an hour going from the tool booth at the entrance of one city to the toll booth at the exit of that city. Unfortunately, the driver was in the blowing lane the whole way. But The Unmatchable Match was on the bus's VCD player. I knew it would be a good movie when it opened with a tow truck dropping a flaming police van off a cliff.
The next day we spent three hours in an Indian restaurant drinking sprite, chai, and banana lassi and eating vegetable curry and tandoori chicken in small increments whilst assessing our digestive abilities. We then walked thee stores up and spent 45 minutes listening to The Cranberries in a fruit drink shop before buying some fruit and big bowls of ramen for the next stage of our journey.
Two friends with a soft sleeper room to themselves is the most enjoyable way to travel, not just in China, but in the world. We cooked ramen, played boggle by hand, watched lovely karst scenery slip by, and slept better than the previous night's hostel while covering the distance from Kunming to Guilin in an evening, a night, and a morning, all 355 Yuan each (that is, transportation and lodging for less than US $50). I wish American rail travel was this good.
Today we met a guy who, in good English, complimented me on my beard. We proceeded to learn that he owns a tea shop, so we sampled the osmanthus (a local speciality), molihua (he claimed Guangxi produces the best in the nation) and oolong with ginseng. For the second time we spent too much on tea, but for the second time it was to nice people. He then lead us to the cheap (relative) place to buy river ticket cruises and helped translate the situation. I'm glad to get some kilometerage out of my fuzz face.
Have a happy Valentine's day and buy a red tassel for your sweetie.