All is not as progressive as the Chinese might have us believe. Close experience with infrastructure development reveals directionless unplanned mess. The road from yangshuo all the way to Guilin (40 miles) is torn up in readiness for a new and wider carriageway. Rather than doing it in sections the idea seems to be to smash up all of the road, leaving bumpy unsurfaced aggregate as the main road. It’s a dust bowl, chaotic, no markings, full of potholes, cars, trucks, buses, motorbikes, even a brave cyclist weaving in and out and seizing right of way from sounding their horns. Our bus bumped a truck. This didn’t even wake the guy in the mirrored shades sprawled in the seat behind me. Passengers flag down buses from rudimentary central reservations. The only work I see is manual labouring, cementing kerb stones together, and diggers smashing up Tarmac. There is very very little progress. The guy I met a few days ago on the Dazhai bus told me this is a normal state of affairs in China. We pass through towns which have been bulldozed leaving piles of rubble reassembling a battlefield. The journey takes an age.
Toilets. In my mind the standard of these says a lot about a civilisation. The Guilin bus station ones were horrendous. Squalid squat and shit holes with no privacy. Guys actually using them to do their business whilst playing games on their phones. The toilet at the temple yesterday was even worse. Basically an open gutter in a shed with no flushing facilities. Hold your breath.
Anyway I’m back in Guilin and I time to get to the temple restaurant for another wonderful buffet. I am also able to finally put in some less dirty clothes (having travelled very light to Dazhai and Xingping. At the lake there are various groups of people dancing to recorded music In the glow of the green and red illuminations. One set of folk are female and are practising Chinese classical dance, but not all on time. The others are dressed in black and do some rock and roll jiving then a rhumba. Here and there I catch line older men singing to themselves in the semi darkness by the shore. On the river are small illuminated rafts, each holds the silhouette of a man with a long pole and sitting beside him are 2 or 3 large birds. I summise these are cormorants and these are the fishermen who use them to catch their fish (the birds throats are restricted by a rope so they do not swallow any fish). But they don’t seem to be fishing. A strange thing is that whenever a pleasure boat passes, the guys lift a bird high on their poles. Why is this? To offer a pose for photos? But why do this? What could they gain from this?