Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Bus Cuts Cut


In an extraordinary move, Hengda Bus company have swallowed their pride, lost face and partially reversed the bus cuts I mentioned here.

Following many complaints and pressure from the colleges involved, as of May 1st, Hengda bus company capitulated and restored the 20 minute service from early morning until 9am, then again from 3pm to 6pm. At weekends the 20 minutes service will apply all day.

Weekdays from after 9 am until 3 pm, an hourly service will apply.

In college vacations only the hourly service will be provided.

For once sense prevailed.

A Moving Story

movingI’m moving home over the next couple of weeks (a long story) and so I am quite busy with all the aches and pains that involves. Therefore, things might be a bit quiet round here for a bit.

It’s not something I want to be doing and I ain’t looking forward to it. But…

First I have to get a new internet connection in the new place, then move 13 years of stuff acquired while I’ve been in this place. Hundreds of books. Gallons of wine.

Easiest to carry but most difficult to bear will be the many memories.

Sad time in cloud laowai.

Rice Rescue

Rice paddy. Shatang, North Liuzhou.

Rice paddy. Shatang, North Liuzhou.

The neighbours are complaining about the weather. Not enough rain.

That suits me, but not the farmers. Especially the rice farmers who have had to delay their planting due to the lack of rainfall.

April had a mere 42.8 mm of rain locally, compared to the usual 60.1 mm, the second lowest in the last 50 years.

Plans are to do what they always do. Artificial cloud seeding. So get your umbrellas primed.

May Art

Liuzhou museum is having one of its occasional short exhibitions, this time of landscape paintings.


If this is of any interest to you, and it is to me, then go along before May 10th (closed Mondays). Admission free. On the first floor to the left of the front entrance.



Gong Farmer

“Gong farmer” is an old expression for a person who cleaned excrement from privies back in the days. Good explanation of the etymology of the term here.  China still uses what is euphemistically called “night soil” in much of its agricultural efforts. I remember the gong farmers emptying the pits in the place I worked in in Hunan twenty years ago and taking away the “soil” to spread on the fields.

Wash your vegetables well!

So this guy is not technically a gong farmer – that term refers to the collection of human waste.

He spent years volunteering (volunteering?)  to collect what is described as “cow dung”.  I’ve never seen what I call a cow in Liuzhou. Presumably he collected water buffalo dung.

Zhou Shanyu, 57, picked up more than 270 tonnes of cow dung during his spare time over four years in his 20’s

For hygiene reasons this post us unillustrated.

Sad Scrap


It’s a bit sad, but this guy has been sitting outside my apartment for about a week now. I can see him from my desk. He hangs around from around 7:30 am until dusk.

He has a sign:


It reads 废旧回收, which means ‘waste reclamation’. So he buys your shit and hopes to resell it for a little more than he paid you. Unfortunately, in all the time he has been there, I have never seen him actually get any business.

Most Chinese waste recyclers, and there are many, are a lot more active. They don’t sit in one place down an obscure lane. The more organised travel around on pedal-powered or even motorcycle-powered wagons yelling out their purpose in life. The less organised just visit every trash can in town – several times a day – seconds after someone else did.

He may be desperate but, of course, he has a cell phone!

Many years ago, when I lived in Hunan, I was visited every morning by an old man who would take away my copious empty beer bottles. He always offered to pay, I always refused his money – I was just happy for them to go.

He couldn’t speak English and at that time my Chinese was worse than minimal. So we conversed in Russian, which he had learned back before Mao fell out with Stalin. (I lived in Russia years back. Gorby era.)

Then he decided to pay me by singing to me! His voice was wrecked. It made Dylan sound like Pavarotti. And I love Dylan. But to my astonishment he launched into “My Love is Like A Red, Red Rose”. Word perfect. But the line about the melody sweetly played in tune carried a certain irony.

Sadly a friend told me not long ago that he has passed on. He never had a cell phone.

Missing On Everest


Image: Luca Galuzzi – – licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

A Liuzhou man, Liu Zheng, is missing on Mount Everest following yesterday’s Nepal earthquake and the avalanches it triggered. Efforts to contact him have failed, although this may be due to infrastructure damage.

Mr Liu has been at the northern base camp for some time preparing for an attempted ascent.

Deaths reported so far have been mostly on the southern side of the mountain which straddles the Tibetan-Nepalese border.

Copyright Theft Punished


In an extraordinary move, for the first time ever, Liuzhou Intermediate People’s Court has found for a plaintiff in a copyright theft case.

Liang Weibin, an amateur but enthusiastic photographer from Liuzhou, sued a local media company when they used four of his pictures without permission or compensation.

He was awarded ¥2,800 and the offending company was ordered to make a public apology.

Mr Liang, said the amount of compensation is unimportant. What is important, he said, is that the rights of photographers be upheld.

Well said.

How many times has the Starf*cks picture been reused? I have only once been asked for permission. By Ai Weiwei.

Just last week, I came across  one of my pictures from here on someone else’s website. I used the contact page on her site and demanded that it be removed. She was astonished.

“I credited it to you!”

Makes no difference. You didn’t ask for permission. And thinking that saying that you credited it to me is any defence is just stupid. It’s akin to robbing the bank then telling the judge, “But I told everyone that I thanked the bank for the cash” and expecting to be let off.

Friday Food 143 – La Rou Xiang Gan


Friday Food is an occasional article about one of the more unusual food items to be found in Liuzhou that week. This week we’re getting smoky.

Maybe I’m missing Hunan or something. Here is another speciality of 湘西 or West Hunan.


Known as 腊肉香干, it is cured and smoked pork belly with smoked dried tofu in a very spicy, oily chilli sauce. Another very typical Hunanese speciality – smoke and heat. I ate it with rice today, but it is often just eaten as a snack.


Love it.

San Yue San Shenanigans

To celebrate San Yue San, bunches of locals have been dressing up in their traditional costumes (or fakes thereof) and dancing around to promote various commercial entities. This bunch were parked outside the bbq shopping mall last night.



A bit heavy handed with the make-up.


Whether these people are actually of the ethnic minorities they supposedly represent is debatable. I had one friend who dressed this way every day for a year while working as an intern (i.e. slave labour)  in a Guilin Hotel. She was meant to be of Guangxi’s Dong minority. She is in fact Han Chinese from Yunnan.

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