update: it's been a long day.
for some reason the hotel doesn't do room service breakfast anymore and i had to sit at a table with some grumpy men who didn't reply when i came in and said "good morning" to everyone and pretended i wasn't there. instead of a normal breakfast, once again we were each handed a box of pastries. i took mine upstairs along with a warm cup of soy milk back to my room to eat in peace.
i was out before 9am, first to a bank to see if i can cash some traveler's checks. it was only a branch office and i was redirected to the main office further into the city. next i visited an internet cafe for 2 hours, posting an entry, uploading some photos, catching up on some world news. by the time i got to the main bank of china building, they were on their lunch break and wouldn't be back until 2pm. instead i went to a china mobile office and added another RMB$100 to my cellphone, before wandering the area near the river. finally, for lunch, there was a KFC nearby and i indulged, only because it was easy to order, i knew what i was getting, and i probably wouldn't get sick. i took a taxi back to the sports hotel, grabbed my bags, and went to the bus station next door and got a ticket to kaili.
view from guiyang to kaili
the ride to kaili took 2.5 hours, and since i haven't been getting a lot of sleep lately, i fell asleep immediately on the bus, two seats to myself, one hand on my bag in case somebody decided to try and steal it. occasionally i'd wake up and look outside the amazing scenery, rice fields everywhere in various shades of green and yellow, some already harvested, dotted with karst mountains.
when the bus pulled into kaili, the first order of business was to find a place to live. not seeing any hotels nearby, i took the nearest option, a shady looking guest house, cement floors, wooden doors that you can still peek through, bars on the windows, that sort of deal - a real shithole, but surprisingly clean, and with a tv and a complimentary mosquito coil. i went with the deluxe option - my own private bathroom - with went for RMB$60. when asked for my identification card, i said "is it okay if i have a US passport?" the manager shook his head, "you can't stay here," he said. "i don't want any trouble," i replied, "i'll only be here a night, maybe two, i don't look like a foreigner, nobody would know," i said. he thought about it and discussed it quickly with his wife, and they agreed to let me stay. i paid for two nights, dropped off my stuff, and headed towards the city center, to find a bank to exchange some money.
with banks here closing at 6pm, i got there with just enough time to get complete the transaction. wandering around the city center, i was amazed by how urban and new it was, clean and active - compared to the area around the bus station. i asked a few hotels for prices - all amazingly affordable. i regretted taking my shithole guesthouse, it'd have been better to live closer to the city center. before heading back in the direction of the bus station, i came across the kaili hotel (chinese name: kaili gioudian). isn't this the place chris and summer were staying? i decided to check it out. stepping inside i could sense the opulence. how much for a single room? RMB$120. curious, i asked to see the rooms. i went up to the 10th floor. my jaw dropped. an amazing view of the downtown area, plus the most amazingly designed bathroom i've ever seen, all glass walls and see-through. they brought me to the 16th floor. the same, just bigger. having seen enough, i went back downstairs. "i take a room," i told the receptionist, figuring out in my head what i'd say to the manager of the bus station guesthouse.
a taxi ride back to the bus station, i told the driver to wait while i went inside to check out after so much trouble checking in. i told the manager he could keep the RMB$60 (about $8) but to return the other RMB$60 for the second night. he agreed, i got my bags, and excitedly raced back to the kaili hotel, to live in the lap of luxury.
view from kaili hotel room
i took a shower, a surreal experience, because it felt like i was showering in the bedroom since i could still see the room. after having just spent 15 minutes in the room, i was already contemplating not even bother visiting those stupid minority villages, and spending the next week in this nice hotel, watching video on demand, taking in the awesome view of the city, just relaxing. i shook off that idea and called chris, who was also kaili in summer. we arranged to have dinner together at some miao restaurant.
i took a taxi to the restaurant and met chris and summer. they gave me tips on how to visit the nearby villages, since they'd already done that the past two days. we had hot and sour miao hot pot with a slice of catfish.
afterwards i grabbed a taxi back to the hotel, where i wandered the city a little bit more, before visiting this nearby internet cafe (one of these secured joints, no photo uploads), and returning to the hotel.