exactly 3 years ago to the day i was in guilin, the former capital (until 1914) of guangxi province. guilin is famous for its karst formations, those surreal limestone peaks dotting the local landscape. i found the place to be interesting but not the amazing natural beauty landmark that other people had hyped it up to be. maybe the timing of my visit had something to do with it: right at the start of the chinese national day celebration, so suddenly all the hotels were 2-3x more expensive as vacationing chinese started crowding into this tourist destination. i arrived not knowing where to stay and faced with the real possibility that all hotels were already booked due to the holiday. i ended up taking the last available room at the guilin backstreet international youth hostel, only because i followed a gay spanish couple when i left sanjiang the day before (it's easy making foreign friends when often times i can offer up my free chinese translation services). one of the walls was horribly water-stained (which the hostel worker apologized in advance) but the bathroom was a work of awesome tilemanship.

there's a bit of a story of how i got that shot of the city up above. parks abound in guilin, usually surrounding particularly notable karst formations. i went to diecai shan (folded brocade mountains), which has 4 different peaks to climb. i don't remember which peak i was on (the one that doesn't have a pavilion), but since i was the only one there, i decided to hop over the metal guard rail in order to get a better viewing angle. in hindsight it was probably a little dangerous (i think it was also particularly windy that day).

it was also my last day in guilin, as i made my way to nearby yangshuo (i'd return to guilin a few days later, to take a scheduled short plane ride to shenzhen so i could cross into hong kong).

about 3 years ago in september i was in the chinese city of kaili in guizhou province. i'd arrived the day before, switching from a shady bus station motel to a more luxurious high-rise hotel in the downtown center. my first full day in kaili i took a bus to matang, a small gejia minority village. since it's mentioned in the lonely planet guide, it's kind of a tourist trap, but on the day i was there i was the only one. the village felt deserted because most of the people were out in the field collecting the harvest.

at dusk i was taking photos from the 16th floor of my hotel. a security person busted me in the hallway, but instead of telling me i couldn't take photos, he told me i could get a better view if i went up to the penthouse. i took the elevator to the top floor. the place was dark and empty and still under construction. it was kind of scary, but i stumbled my way to the windows so i could see the view.

with my recent chicken obsession, i remembered the chickens i saw in rural china. birds that resembled wild red jungle fowls were common (although i'm sure they're domesticated).

they eat dogs in guizhou (DON'T CLICK ON THE PHOTO IF YOU'RE SQUEAMISH). i never tried it but walking around the markets it's not hard to find. it's shocking enough to see butchers chop up animal carcasses before your eyes, but even more when you realize they're dogs.




it's only day 3 but i feel like cleber's been painting for weeks. i didn't notice it when he was doing the eastern side of the house, but now that he's working the southern side, the smell of oil paint has infiltrated the house. i don't mind, makes me feel like i'm getting my money's worth. i gave him a key to the back door yesterday so he could use the bathroom when he wanted. not sure if he used it yesterday (since i wasn't home for most of the day), but he came in twice today, almost apologetic for disturbing me, which he didn't.

a package arrived on my doorstep today. it was a box of perennial bulbs and roots i ordered from spring hill nursery back in july. they ship in autumn so i can plant them into the ground right away for a flower show that won't happen until 6+ months later. you have to have a lot of patience gardening in new england. i got the following plants: 20 azure alliums, 50 mixed snow crocuses, and 2 perennial grab bag including a pair of peach blossom astilbe, a pair of ostrich ferns, and 16 hostas which may include gold standard, patriot, and alba marginata. a package of dutch irises have yet to arrive. i was going to plant most of them in my parents' backyard, but i may decide to put a few in mine as well.

as promised, GBM called me this afternoon to let me know the motorcycle was ready. i have 24 hours to pick it up so i decided to leave it there overnight and get it in the morning; not having to worry about it sitting outside my house for one more night will be a relief. not like i was going to do any riding today anyway, with the sky a dismal overcast and temperature in the 50's. despite the cold weather, cleber was working in a wool hooded sweatshirt and a pair of shorts.

cleber finished an entire first coat on the southern side before leaving. we picked out a 3rd color, a red for inside the windows. some of steve's wooden windows are already red, but mine are white vinyl, so cleber has to first sand the windows before he can paint them. he's doing one as a test tomorrow and we'll see how it looks.

renee, my retiree neighbor from next door, was hovering around the whole time, obviously wanting to get my attention, but not considerate enough to know that i was busy. after cleber left for the day, she asked me for more computer help. this is actually the third time in a week. she's trying to write a document but she doesn't have microsoft word on her pc and and notepad can only do so much. so she was writing it in her e-mail program instead, but didn't understand why when she printed out her document, that there were menubar items and banner ads. i introduced her to an online word processor, which fixed the problem temporarily, but then she was having printing issues. i fixed that on monday, but she was back again today, this time with formatting issues (why doesn't it line up? why are there mysterious line breaks?). and every time i see her she promises to get a mac, but she's still using her virus-infected pc. more than once has she asked me to come over with some computer emergency, and turns out something was just unplugged. next time she rings the doorbell i'm going to pretend i'm not home.

later in the evening i heated up some toaster oven french bread pizza and watched the latest episode of glee.