written/non-written things by me (from 2005-2008)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


It kinda looks it, but its not a chinese word, it's what I do when I get into the city. Coming from me, it's not entirely bad. Since I left the village of Zhaoxing about a week ago, leaving on a day when it pelted cold rain, the cold drizzle and the sense of languish hasn't really abated. I wrassled my way out of the gritty bus horn-remarkable northern towns. And have since spent 2 days in the city of Guilin and the tourist-enclave of Yangshuo.

The well-trafficked and bleak road to Yangshuo, scenary just out of reach.

I once met a young happen'in female tour guide in Beijing who told me in her years of experience in China the city she would want to live in the most was here, Yangshuo. True that the grey rocks covered in drippy green bushes protruding like noses ringing the city are fantastic/ical. No better setting, sure. But living here? Are they, the expats, living here? The main attraction of the town is "West Street" with its perpetual souvenir hawking and bar/cafe's playing Bob Marley, and foreigner 20-somethings wheeling around on rented mountain bikes, and this whole laid-backness that is desperately perpetuated using little more than the decor alone. And there are the assumed backpackers (I've only seen a few actually).. but the backpackers! with their gersh'dern brightly colored performance outerwear and backpacks with a confusion of dangly straps and lycra loops.


I mean who am I if not exactly them (but I like to think somehow not, because I don't like it). So, there is the self-awareness that tends to distract. But really I'm mildly dissapointed=playfully bitter because I haven't really met a single one of these backpackers, and its like their just figments of the marketing immagination of the town. I'm here in the internet room at my lodge and there are 2 obnoxious backpacks (as described above) leaning against the wall, but with no packers in sight. Where are they? I want to talk to them! its dire, as I haven't talked in non-baby langauge for 3 weeks. But..There are plenty of adorable Chinese tour bus tourists, who opposite to Western tourist, dress in their best and lavish upon the kitschy boutiques and gift shops, walk in lines behind tour guides holding little flags, and take ample amounts of photos in front of monuments and landscapes. And I love them because I like to tell myself that they are transparent and "true" in their goals and methods of "seeing" and its lacks the self-awareness and tourist-guilt of a western backpacker looking for a unique story to tell and a true communion with the people (that's not evil, of course, but I'm just saying). In their guilt-free commodifcation of place, its kinda of a gas!

Meh. Its not important. The weather is grey and drizzle cold, and its getting to me. Since its not quite raining, the usually gritty towns aren't quite washed. Instead, the grit combined with drizzle is made slippery shiney and more apparent, postively grimmy! I am already nostalgic for a week and half-ago when I was in shorts riding my bicycle on sweet mountainy mountains. Oh life was simple then and I was righteous and I thought, This here place is a marvel, and my very "adventure" life is a marvel and everything hence forth (in my life) will be like so much better because of the merest coicindences that the weather happened to be good on that particularly pretty road. So, tomorrow I leave Yangshuo having spent more than the usual daily allowance on coffees and diet cokes and massages and hair cuts (4 things that are luxurious to me) and with photos of not the Moon Hill or the Li River cruise or whatnot tourist must-see's, but with the standard street shots of things I delight-in, shadows, over-stimulation, junk, peeking in and sometimes I feel I can't get enough of these things. Meandering and healthy-bit of languishing IS my essence.

(click on the Mao for more photos.)

Officially finished with my self-declared "Phase I" Tomorrow, I start Phase II: 2 weeks through less populated areas headed toward the "eternal spring" of Yunnan province. Where I am hoping that my travel life will again match more approximately the idea I have in my head of my travel life. And this happens only when I moving and sweating and meeting people on my bike, not while sitting in the hotel room, restaurant, or at the internet cafe, even.

My name is Hannah Pierce-Carlson