Friday, October 27, 2006

China: More from Nanning

Since we had a full day yesterday, our hosts from the All-China Youth Federation decided to make some changes in the schedule and brought us to one of the counties of Nanning City for some sightseeing.

We visited Yiling Cave in Wuming County which was about an hour from the city proper. Before entering the cave, visitors were treated to a cultural experience with the traditions and various ethnic groups of Guangxi presented in an interactive outdoor museum and show. As we entered the cultural park, a group of musicians played on local horns and drums to welcome the group. The tour took about 30 minutes before we finally reached the entrance of the cave.

Unlike our caves in the Philippines, the entire route inside Yiling Cave from top to bottom was all wired for a sort of lights show. I felt it was quite commercialized or maybe I just was not used to seeing neon lights inside a cave. It would have been better if they just used plain flood lights to give visitors an unadulterated view of the spectacular limestone formations. The cave experience seemed more Disneylandish to me than a visit to a natural wonder. Oh well! But overall, it was fun. And it was good exercise too since it obviously got me sweating.

After catching our breath, we boarded the buses to proceed back to the hotel for lunch. We hardly had time to rest and we were off to our next stop which was the secretariat of the China-ASEAN Expo for a briefing on the upcoming event. This was followed by a visit to Qinxiu Mountain again where we planted trees in the China-ASEAN Friendship Park. It would be nice to come back 20 or 30 years from now and revisit the trees we planted.

With that over, everyone was excited since next on our itinerary was shopping. As our hosts quipped, it was time to contribute to China's GDP. We were brought to this large shopping mall called New Mengzhidao (Dream Land) and given two hours to do our thing. Since I was not in a shopping mode given that I had to conserve funds for my trips to Beijing and Shanghai, I decided to sneak out for a while to take a walk to the city square which was just a few meters away.

In front of the Guangxi People's Hall was Minzu Square which was all spruced up for the China-ASEAN Expo. One thing I noticed in China was that the flowers along the streets and squares were all potted and can easily be replaced as soon as they wilt. So there is always a fresh supply of flowers greeting visitors.

I hope Mayor Atienza and our other Metro Manila mayors start to learn the importance of proper gardening in their cities because Chinese cities are just so green and colorful with well-maintained plants and flowers along roads, sidewalks, parks and plazas!

I also took a photo in front of a billboard with photos of Chairman Mao, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin. Unlike our political billboards in the Philippines which are for the selfish interests of our incumbent officials, this billboard honors the former leaders of China. And it's tastefully done with proper landscaping in front, not like the political billboards especially in Manila which is basically nothing but clutter!

In the evening, our hosts in Guangxi prepared a farewell banquet. And just like in the previous banquet, toasts were exchanged, this time with the local liquor which explains why a lot of people got drunk tonight, some people we know inlcuded. Hehe!

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