Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Stoned again!

Thursday was a bit busy. As I mentioned before, Liuzhou is holding the 4th Liuzhou International Fantastic Stone Festival. Most of the local foreigners who could take time off work were rounded up and ordered to appear at the local government’s foreign affairs office at 8.30 am. At around 9.00, armed with special VIP badges, we climbed onto buses and drove round the corner to the city’s main square.

Opening Ceremony

Here we find our reserved seats, each equipped with a paper carrier bag full of goodies. Well, a red baseball cap, a bottle of mineral water and some advertising leaflets from the local stone merchants. For the next hour we sit and listen to the same speech given over and over again by different people. Well, more or less the same speech. These are delivered by the Liuzhou mayor, the Liuzhou Party Secretary, the German chairman of the European Stone Appreciation Society, the chair of the Korean Stone Appreciation Society etc. All the speeches are delivered in both Chinese and English.

What is particularly sad is that, although the speeches are incredibly boring for everyone, they are doubly so for me. Guess who did the translations! I’ve been reading these speeches for days!

Finally, the speeches are over and hundreds of balloons, streamers and pigeons are released. We can go home.

No! We all troop off to our right to visit the newly opened (today) Liuzhou Museum where we wander round appreciating stones! Some, it has to be said, are amazing.

Favourite? The Banquet of Stones. All these mouth-watering dishes are just stones.

Stone Dinner!

Well, having wandered round the sizeable museum and having enthusiastically appreciated, I’m just thinking that I have had a reasonably good time, and now I should probably head home.

“Get on the bus, please” announces one of my hosts.

I do and we are whisked off out into the countryside to have lunch – on a farm. It turns out to be rather good. Nice food, nice company. (I have, of course taken care to make sure that I am not at the same table as the two local foreign lunatics. I’ll come back to them later.)

Lunch over, I’m thinking that I should head home for a nice siesta.

No!

On the bus and we head off to the local pomelo farm. For those of you who have yet to discover the pomelo, it looks like an overgrown grapefruit. (In fact, the grapefruit is a cross-breed between a pomelo and an orange.) The deal in this farm (and this is not my first visit) is that, after paying a modest entry fee you go in, and are free to pick and eat any fruit you see hanging from a tree. As much as you like, but you cannot take any home without paying. Of course, as VIPs, we don’t have to pay the modest fee and we are allowed to leave with one pomelo each.

Pomelo

Well, for sure I’ve done my duty now. Listened to speeches, appreciated stones, eaten lunch, picked pomelos. Bed time!

No!

We’re on the bus again, headin’ for another joint. Clearly, we have not appreciated enough, so they take us to a different stone exhibition hall. This is the prime one. Here we have the ¥1,000,000 stones. But I’ve seen them before. So, I wander out into the park at the back of the exhibition halls and chill out. In my wandering, I spot this.

Banyan Sign

Well, clearly this needs investigating. So, here it is!

Banyan

Minutes later, I am once again requested to board the bus! Great! I can go home!

Unfortunately the bus driver doesn’t know that and takes me to Long Tan Park. (Dragon Pool Park). This is Liuzhou’s “best park”, set in beautiful surroundings which they have managed to spoil by building ghastly copies of minority peoples’ architecture. Come the revolution, the first thing to go is the travesty copy of the Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge. The real one is a thing of great beauty. The Long Tan Park one would make Disney ashamed.

Rant over.

Long Tan

So, we sit by the pool and are entertained by musicians who attempt to compress every possible cliché into one tune. They just don’t understand jazz here. Or classical. So we are treated to lumpen renditions of Beethoven and note perfect copies of Kenny G! A plague on them!

Then they serve up supper. A huge buffet. So, I get tucked in! A nice bit of evening meal before I go home.

But first I have to watch the models. No pain!

Models

You know what is coming, don’t you?

I am met by one of my hosts who orders me back to the bus. Great! We are heading back to the city centre (where I live). At the last minute, in spitting distance of my home, the bus throws a left and we are outside the city’s Art and Culture centre.  Or as anyone sensible would call it, the theatre.

So, I give up, settle down and enjoy (really) the concert. Well that is I would if the ignorant jerk sitting two seats to the right of me hadn’t talked all the way through the concert. I am used to Chinese people answering their cell telephones or chatting to the neighbours in concert situations, but usually I can filter it out. But this was one of the foreigners. He is Belgian or Dutch. Can’t remember. Never liked him. Even the locals around me were pointedly staring at him and he still rabbited on. Rude, ignorant idiot!

But I managed to enjoy the show, although it wasn’t as good as previous shows. In fact, it was a kind of Karaoke reprise of the last two shows.

Show over, I escape! I left home at 8.00 and got home at 22.00. Could be worse.

. This entry was posted on Saturday, November 4th, 2006 at 5:01 pm and is filed under Liuzhou News, Liuzhou Stones. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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