I arrived at my hotel through the centre of Nanning having made a very easy Metro ride to the nearest tube station.
I came out of the exit straight into Saturday afternoon city centre shopping bedlam. Honestly, it’s my idea of hell.
I arrived at my hotel – hotel instead of a hostel for this leg. Actually I felt a little disorientated when I entered the building – I’ve become very used to hostels.
For a (by UK prices) cheap hotel I was even more surprised by how plush it was. There was a ballroom just off the reception, where a very nice wedding was taking place, and there was me – carrying my rucksack and dressed in full backpacker mode.
I also needed to check that the hotel had received the ticket from the booking agent for the next leg of my journey.
As I write, the staff are looking a little nervous. The ticket was delivered here but they don’t know where it is.
I’m sure it will turn up bit I’m reluctant to book activities for the next two days in case I have to go to the railway station to resolve anything.
This has been going on all afternoon and I didn’t stay in the hotel to wait. I went for a walk around the city.
I am currently under the impression that there aren’t many Westerners here – based on the number of people staring at me. Most of the signage is in English, making it very easy to find my way around so I was a little surprised by some of the reactions.
As it is a Saturday afternoon, the teenagers have been out in force. It was interesting to see how they dress.
Most go for jeans and Tshirts but I’ve seen a lot of girls wearing Victorian/Edwardian style silky socks, all decorated with frilly bows.
I crossed the main road to Chaoyang Square dodging the thousands of mopeds.
Mopeds are everywhere in Chinese cities but there seems to be more of them here than anywhere else. Guilin was heaving with mopeds and owners with apparently no ability to unlock them without setting off their alarms.
There are even more here. And while, like everywhere else, mopeds stop only for larger vehicles and even then, that is not a guarantee… here, you can’t move on the pedestrian crossings for shoals of them.
They’re also vying for space on the crossings with people grilling and selling corn on the cob.
The only activity that appears to be out of place on a pedestrian crossing is a pedestrian using it to cross the road.
It’s amazing to see.
Once I made it to Chaoyang Square I found it to be awash with noise. There was an absolute din.
In the centre of the square were multiple karaoke competitions. Men and women all singing a variety of songs. People gathered around to watch or wait their turn.
Elsewhere, some type of martial arts lesson was taking place.
Around this central part were card games – small groups of people sitting on stools or sitting on rugs. None of them seemed to be distracted by the din going on around them.
And on another edge of the square were women dancing.
The woman in red, at the back of the group, invited me to join in. I made the international gesture of: “No, I couldn’t possibly.”
When she asked me a second time, I thought it would be rude to refuse and decided to try a little bit of the Chinese lack of self consciousness that I’ve really appreciated seeing.
So I joined in.
I was aware that, based on the number of stares I had already received, that I might get a lot of attention. I decided to ignore this and tried to follow the moves.
The only way I can describe what we were doing is to say that it felt like a mash-up of traditional, military-style pageantry with modern dance music.
I danced for one song and then decided to leave before I noticed anyone get their phone out to record.
I thanked the woman who had invited me to join – it was a lot of fun – and when I turned around, an older woman marched up to me and, with a very serious expression gave me a solemn thumbs up for participating.
I’m not sure I’d have received any points for style or technique.