I’m up early looking for portable food. I use the photo I took yesterday of the savory bread to go back for more– two flavors this time. On the way I see people waiting in line. Yes! They’re buying steamed buns! I play roulette and end up with two small pork buns and a big onion/veggie blend. Not a bad breakfast. The two breads I save for lunch on the road.
I ask one of the hostel employees to write ticket directions to Shaxi. I point to my print out. He tells me it uses the wrong characters for the village. Oops. I check out and make my way to Bus 8 to the main bus station.
I buy my ticket and wait. I’m hoping it’s one of the nicer buses but no luck. It’s well worn with love I’m sure and the extra seat cushion hasn’t been washed in years. I sit in the back where I’ll have room for my bag. I’m told many people don’t go there. Okay. The bus is full and my spot has me with my backpack and daypack on my lap. To make matters worse the guy in front of me is trying to push his seat back. Seriously?! Luckily someone gets off the bus and I toss my bags next to me.
The bus rolls through another small town worn out with a pile of well worn tires. I hope this is not the stop. It’s not. I eat the two breads and the new flavor that I thought was meat based is actually jam. Ugh. The bus pulls into a bus station. I ask a woman about the bus I’m looking for and she’s going on the same one. The driver comes by to point out the bus. I get on, this time choosing a single seat with the backpack resting on the floor. Couple of older guys get on and start smoking. The bus fills up and we’re off on some winding mountain roads. The scenery turns to farms.
The bus goes on like this for awhile. Sometimes picking up more people or dropping them off at odd places. The bus stops at the beginning of town. I read the directions to the hostel and am confused as they say to walk downhill. Uphill is more like it. I follow the road, surprised to see a western family here. I make my way to what’s left of old town. It’s not well maintained but makes for interesting photos. I miss the entrance to the hostel but back track to the theater to find it.
The hostel smells of wet dog. The source: two giant dogs with thick fur lounging in the common area. They’re calm and I walk around them. The dorms are what you would imagine for summer camp. The beds are made from natural lumber, not cleaned and perfectly shaped. I open the windows to air out the room and dirt and/or dust scatters. I unpack what I need and go out to explore.
Shaxi is known for its Friday markets. The hostel lets me know that I still have time to catch the end. I guess the draw is for people watching. The market items itself is not very unique unless I missed the best stuff already.
I continue on back through the remaining old town and walk along the path to a dirt road. I follow it a bit but it looks to be going back into town. I turn back toward the bridge. There’s two guys in their underwear standing on the outer edge. An old woman is walking by and begins to scold them. I wonder if she thinks it’s dangerous because it’s too shallow or too much garbage. It’s probably the first. They decide to heed the old woman and walk down to the edge of the creek to swim. Later a group of school kids show up to swim.
It’s quite relaxing to just walk around. I’d like to find paths to walk through the fields but it’s probably someone’s property and well they don’t need tourists there. Hay and other farm scents fill the air. I watch people work and the light changing the scenery.
I turn back figuring the restaurants close early. I go with the hostel’s recommendation and no surprise half the menu is western food. When I asked for local dishes, he wouldn’t help me. The food was okay and I like the chrysanthemum tea.
The main reason I was excited for the hostel, was for the hiking. Unfortunately the hike they’re offering is for the biggest tourist attraction in the area. Ugh. It’s not something you would need a guide for. I was hoping for something local and thinking of spending an extra day here.
However I don’t want to spend anymore time then I have to in my room so I continue walking around. I find a new area still under construction. I look at a couple shops.