When we pulled into Nanning the kids were excited by the Blackpool style illuminated Hotels and whatever else.

We easily found our hotel since knowing we’d arrive late id booked a hotel near to the station. Let me just explain actually, when you book a hotel in China you don’t pay per bed, you pay per room or per person. For instance, if a double room costs 200yen and you stay in it alone you pay 200yen. If 1 adult and 2 children stay in a double room you pay per person. It seems that if the per person charge is higher than the room charge that’s what you pay – The higher price.

What I have been doing is paying for 1 adult and 1 child (Charlie) The reason is simple, Abi sleeps with either me or Charlie (mostly Charlie) and if the hotel ever questioned it I’d just explain she is 4 years old and under 1.1m which pretty much means everything is free for her in China and I had assumed hotels follows the same policy. As yet I’ve not been questioned.

The first day in Nanning and the main priority was tickets to Hanoi. I had fully researched this trip to the best of my abilities prior to travel and had to hand the Lonely Planet edition of China. I had heard that getting tickets to Hanoi were not that easy. We headed for the train station to see what a mission it was. We found the International ticket desk right at the end of the ticket hall and I asked how much for me and 2 kids to Hanoi for 9/8 he said 147yen for me, and 50% for Charlie but Abi was free. The journey would take from 5pm until 8am the following morning. There was plenty of availability. Now, the problem with that is the border crossing, the ‘Friendship pass’ as it is known is really and technically only open during day time hours for foreigners, and since we’d be crossing at night I felt maybe there would be Visa issues, not only that but we’d all developed a huge disliking to long train journeys! So we headed for the ‘Nanning International Tourist Centre (I think that’s the name) which literally is across the road and 100 m to the left with your back to the station. I asked how much for the coach and was told 149yen for me and 75yen for each child unless Abi sat on my knee in which case it would be free. No chance, for the sake of 7 quid she is having her own seat. Either way the coach takes a mere 7 hours which is much less than the train. I booked it for the 8am departure from the centre on 9th August 2009, meaning we arrive in Hanoi for about 2pm.Which is 7hrs but 1 hr behind China and +7 GMT, which, given GMT is now +1 that we would be 6 hrs ahead of the UK.

How anyone can call that process difficult, awkward or otherwise deserves a slap in my opinion. They should try booking tickets in Beijing, now that is bloody hard. Booking tickets to Hanoi from Nanning could only be easier if a personal chaperone came to my hotel room and sorted everything for me. Anyway, that was it; we were headed for Vietnam for the pricey sum of 26 pounds. It took no more than 30 mins to get prices for both the train and bus and make our booking.

Now, onto Nanning. So far my trusty Lonely Planet book had been great, but in terms of Nanning the writer deserves not only a slap but a good kicking. I fail to see how he climaxed over Shanghai yet found only a few pages about Nanning and even said “just enough to keep you going” He has never been to Nanning. It is a bustling city with over 2 million occupants, the lush greenery is everywhere, nowhere in a Chinese city have I seen so many trees and greenery. It’s like a city within a jungle.
Right at the heart of the city is a park – Or Garden as the Chinese like to say. There were people line dancing, hundreds of people all dancing – Oddly to rave music! The kids joined in, sort of – Clearly my dancing skills have passed onto them as Charlie looked like he was having a spasm and Abi attempted some type of break-dance….. I think?

The centre itself is like China I imagined, a huge market place. Thousands of market stalls all individual. I was talking to one girl who owned a booth which sold clothes she had designed and she was not alone, many had the same idea as hers. Not a Nike sign in sight, no Versace, no Rolex shop. Just back to basics Chinese markets. I have never seen so many food stalls, fruits, all surrounded by age old artifacts of China gone by. The photo above shows our modification to Nanning (Ok so sticking a piece of corn in the mouth of a thousand year old artifact may not be the best thing to do in the centre of Nu China – But it was funny at the time 😉 )
Charlie and Abi both tried Chicken feet (I chickened out – Geddit…. Ok exit stage left) anyway they both almost threw up. Odd, they had to taste it to feel like that. We were all left wondering what the point in eating a chicken’s foot was as we swigged Fanta and continued to dehydrate in the 32 degree searing heat.

Actually the weather has got so hot I’ve really had to keep an eye on the kids. The humidity is nothing like it has been and the sun is feeling more brutally hot as we get nearer to the equator. Basically there are many ways to check dehydration, but one of the easiest and earliest signs is to check the urine. In Kids it’s even more difficult and people talk of pulling skin, looking at the tongue etc… Well, watch them take a piss, if the urine is clear and like water this indicates a hydrated person, the darker the urine the more dehydrated the person is. I mean come on, we’ve all got up after a night out on the lash and had a piss and not only has it been dark yellow its smelled of sugar puffs – Well that’s a sign your in need of a few drinks of water.

Thankfully the kids are reacting very well to the system I have in place which is that whilst were out they have to drink one half litre of water every hour. Overnight they have to drink the half litre over night. I have found that they require more than half a litre over night and it is available for them.
Either way, as I write this we have one more day in Nanning then away we head to Vietnam. Since tomorrow will be only relaxing and walking round the most amazing market I’ve known this will be my last post from China.

Next stop Hanoi, Vietnam….


Just a dad trying to live the dream with my kids.

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