We began our journey with a flight into Nanning, the capital of Guangxi province. We were headed to Daxin, a small town in the Zhuang autonomous region that would serve as our jumping off point for a few sights in Southern China. Once in Nanning, none of the locals could direct us to the correct bus to Daxin mostly because none of the locals had even heard of Daxin. After a lunch of Guilin mi fen, a shuttle bus and a second 1 kuai bus, we finally reached the Nanning bus station and were on our way to Daxin.
After mere seconds in Daxin, Eric had already established himself as a minor celebrity. The elderly did double takes. Adults stopped and pointed. Children screamed and followed on bicycle. Everywhere we went we were met with stares and whispers of “lao wai” (foreigner).
Unlike in Shanghai where grandparents and parents dote on a single child, the residents of Daxin are of the Zhuang minority group, making them exempt from the one child policy. The result is a town filled with hordes of independent children who fend for themselves and are incredibly well-behaved.
With three evenings to explore Daxin in between day trips to the surrounding area we grew fairly familiar with the town. If we weren’t walking, we were riding in a three wheel taxi with seats made of fake Burberry or Louis Vuitton pleather. Every night we got fresh watermelon smoothies from Tea Da Ye, and if it wasn’t raining, we ate dinner on the street. The town had just two types of beer: the local Guangxi beer and surprisingly Pabst Blue Ribbon.
On Monday morning, we decided to walk to the bus station and explore street food options for breakfast. While we ate the local variation of xiaolong bao (soup dumplings), we noticed four girls trying to sneak a picture of Eric. We talked to them for a bit and allowed them to take a picture. They were 11 years old and had the day off school for Dragon Boat Festival. As we continued on our way to the bus station, they followed…and followed. They tried to stay far enough behind us that it wasn’t obvious they were following us, but rushed to help when we needed directions. We finally ditched the girls when we ducked into a garage to watch a bit of the NBA Finals with two men. They were rooting for the Heat.
On our final night in Daxin, we got foot massages from two tough Zhuang women who assured us that the water was not too hot and they were not massaging too hard. By the end, we agreed they were the best foot massages we had ever had.
For more photos see our Guangxi Province Gallery.