Draft notes from China — more to come some day….
Sunday 9th March 2014
14.30 departure on Cathay flight CX198 for Hong Kong. Daytime flight was good as we were able to stay awake while watching three movies. Cathay provided a hotel room at the airport in the Regal hotel .Very nice room and we had a good night’s sleep before checking in for our flight to Hainan Island with DragonAir. We arrived at 15.30 and along with John and Francis caught a taxi to othe Baohua Harbour View Hotel in Haikou. It is a nice hotel in a good central location opposite a large park.
Tuesday 11th March 2014
Walked along the main road for about one km to the main registration venue for Interhash 2014. Once we worked out that there are no road rules in China, we were able to negotiate a couple of major intersections by crossing when the electric motor scooters did.
Registration was a shambles, as we were amongst the first there and the staff had no idea what to do and did not speak English. I took control of the bar where they couldn’t even open the kegs, but soon got things going. After the first drink, you had to buy your own (about $1.00/cup), but because of my position as official volunteer bar manager we had free beer all day, which made for a good start to the event. That night we went around the corner to look for some food and met two locals who spoke good English and they took us to a noodle bar and insisted on paying for the meal. One of them took Carol and Me to show us his office from where the staff organised tours etc.
Wednesday 12th March
The four of us took a taxi to the railway station to catch train to Quong Hai. We had instructions written in Chinese for each leg of the trip.
Taxi to Haikou Station
2nd class ticket to Quong Hai
Taxi to Baoa – (Sea Storey Bar)
Taxi to Quong Hai
With a bit of confusion, and help from the locals we found our way through the station to our train and were pleasantly surprised by the high standard of the carriage. The trip took about one and a half hours, with three stops on the way. Each carriage has an indicator board in Chinese and English that shows the arrival time s at all the stations, as well as the train’s speed (max 198 km/hr) We arrived at each station exactly on time and caught a taxi for the 30 minute ride to our destination, although the hotel porter had written the wrong instructions and we were delivered to an expensive tourist resort. We eventually managed to find someone who worked out where we wanted to go and instructed the taxi driver.
The bar is right on the beach and is built out of driftwood and old fishing boats. It has a lot of character and we had a great meal and a few beers before we walked into the nearby village to catch a taxi back to the station. The beach was quite dirty except for the area outside the bar, where they cleared up all the rubbish. It was windy and the sea was quite rough so none of us were interested in a swim. The weather has been overcast and dull with mild temperatures since we arrived in China. The taxi ride of about 35km cost the equivalent of $14.00 and we had an hours wait in the crowded station for the train back to Haikou.
Martyn and Bev had arrived by then and that night we all walked down the street and found a busy local restaurant where nobody spoke English and the menu was all in Chinese. Luckily there were some pictures so we just took pot-luck and pointed. Martyn and I ended up with a Tofu stew, but it tasted OK. Bev and John had a hot plate with stir fried pigeon and vegetables and each ended up with a huge pile of bones. We had several beers and the total cost of the meal was under $5.00 each.
Thursday 13th March
The hotel breakfast was a buffet of European and Chinese food so we all ate up large each morning. We decided to do the Hammersley Hash Run at midday and caught a taxi to the start beside a large intersection, with a pedestrian overbridge circling it. At registration we were given a tee shirt and a cold beer. There was an old local woman with a small cart collecting all the empties. She had a huge grin on her face with over 300 hashers giving her a real bonus compared to a normal day.
The run took us through an old part of Haikou, down narrow alleys between houses and shops, much to the amusement of the locals. We finished at a local park and Hammersley H3 had set up a large sofa made up of blocks of ice. We had a good feed with a choice of chicken or pork and a large quantity of beer in ice buckets. The circle was typical Hammersley with clever songs, great jokes and much sitting on ice and dousing with buckets of water. The circle was joined by a large crowd of locals who were amused by the antics and particularly by the down-trou’s on the ice.
Friday 14th March
Another foggy, overcast day greeted us and after a leisurely breakfast we walked down to the registration venue.
The Red Dress Run was on the Friday so we decided to miss it and stayed at the venue for a few more beers before walking back to the hotel to prepare for that night’s opening ceremony. As we left the hotel lobby a bus full of hashers was just leaving, so we jumped on board. It turned out to be a special bus organised by a Malaysian hash, but we convinced them to give us a lift.
We arrived at Century Park before the other buses and were able to get our food from a wide selection of Chinese dishes with relative ease. Beer was more of a problem, as they had not yet put the quart bottles on the ice, The venue was huge, in the open air and with no cover or seating. The wind was quite strong and as the night went on, everyone got colder and colder. The local performances were ok and we got a bit of shelter about 75 metres from the stage, in front of the sound system controller. By about 9.30, everyone had had enough of the cold and caught the buses back to our hotels.
Saturday 15th March
Another foggy, overcast day greeted us and after a leisurely breakfast we walked down to the registration venue. Carol and I attended a meeting of about 20 regular attendees of previous Interhashes to try to sort out some ground rules for bidders for future events. As an Interhash has a budget of about $1.5 million we saw a need to have some sort of overview of the organising committee and drew up a protocol for bidders for future events. Both Bali and Fiji who are bidding for Interhash 2016 have agreed to this protocol and will require future bidders to also agree to it.
We caught a bus to the run site near an old village with two ancient pagodas as a backdrop for the circle.
The run of about 6.5km took us through fields of chillies, chokos, beans, and bananas. The trail went around a lake and past a field where locals were using a 12tonne digger to clear the rocky ground in preparation for the new planting season. Further on more locals had a small generator powering hydraulic breakers to break the rocks down into paving slabs.
Carol and I both ended up on the ice more than once for doing over 14 Interhashes, more than 2000 runs and being a GM (Carol). The bus trip back to the main venue was quite quiet and we were able to get a feed before most of the others arrived back.
We were keen to avoid the problem of last night with a lack of cold beer, so Father (from Rotorua) and I commandeered a small truck and set up a drink station where we arranged a large supply of ice and a stack of cases of beer. We had a busy night as we had the only really cold beer at the venue, but we managed to keep up with the demand until the end of the night. Hammersley hash put on about the only act of the night, and the rest of the entertainment was provided by local entertainers. The night wasn’t as cold as Friday but everything finished about 10.30.
Sunday 16th March
A much smaller number of Hashers was waiting to catch the run buses and there were only about 35 on our run that was based at a beautifully landscaped park near a new residential development. We ran through aloe vera, banana. pineapple and starfruit plantations. There were only three on the long run, four of us did the medium run (6.8km) and the rest were on the short run. We had only eight English speakers at the On on ,so Carol ,as a G.M., was called on to run part of the circle. We had a one hour bus trip back to the main venue, and the night was similar to Saturday, apart from the announcement that Bali had won the bid for Interhash 2016 with 900 votes to Fiji’s 500. The venue again shut down at 10.30, after most people had made their way back to their hotels
The general organisation of the event left a bit to be desired, but all the blame can’t be placed on the organisers as the Gov’t pulled the plug on a substantial amount of finance and support with only a couple of months’ notice. This left them with having to run the event with a very reduced budget and a different venue. We still had a great time and enjoyed ourselves as normal.
Monday 17th March
We had a quiet day to recover from the excesses of the previous four days and went for a walk in the large park opposite our hotel. We spent a bit of time in a market and spent a small amount of money there. Prices in China are not as low as they used to be (apart from food and beer at $1.00/ quart bottle) so we have not done much shopping. In the evening we again went to a local restaurant and had a similar experience to Thursday night, with much pot-luck in our selections; but with generally favourable results.
Hainan Air flight HU7336 left Haikou at 1315 and we had a pleasant flight of 75 minutes to Guilin.
Photo is of 4 of us squeezing into a CNG tanked taxi to get to the airport.
We met up with Jeff and Marietta from Tauranga who were to join us for our trip in the southern province of China based around Guilin. Our guide, Cory, met us at the airport and we loaded our bags into the van that was to be our transport and support vehicle for the next seven days. After we had checked into the Guilin Bravo Hotel and unpacked our bags, we were collected and taken to a local bike shop to select the bikes that would be our main transport for a couple of days. To our surprise thay were good quality Merida and Giant mountain bikes. We went for a two hour ride around the busy city streets, dodging cars, motor scooters and pedestrians. We stopped at a Tea Research Centre and learnt a lot about the different types of tea and finished with a tea ceremony, where we tasted a variety of teas. After our return to the hotel we walked around the corner to a small restaurant. More people in Guilin speak English than in Haikou, so we were able to order our meals with more certainty.