notes caves laowai

the next part of the Guizhou - Sichuan trip was to fly from Guiyang to Yibin in south eastern Sichuan. my purpose was to visit famous caves near the town of Xinwen that recently have started receiving visitors. it was the first time i flew without my seat belt on. i sat in the aisle seat waiting for people to arrive, so i did not strap myself in case i needed to get up. no one came to take the middle seat and i fell asleep without being strapped. it was a moment of living dangerously, ha. 
it was the first time for me to be traveling through western China by myself and without being on a tour. i would make some mistakes in communication. i stayed in a four star hotel in Ybin that had a KTV and restaurants. despite its rating, it was noisy, as doors kept opening and closing all night. must have been a busy at the KTV. in the morning i found a way to the south bus station. The station was clean.
on the bus to Xinwen they were playing a loud American movie, an espionage film set in the Bronx, pre-911, with the twin towers in the background. The bus hit a bump and the film stopped. so the driver started a Chinese film just as noisy, but i did not have to strain to hear my Chinese lessons on my iTouch. i did not want to feel like i was in an English speaking country when i was not. i needed to practice Chinese. in the movie a character fell off a bridge and at that moment the movie stopped and i quietly yelled hurrah! i could study.
when i arrived in Kinwen little mistakes started happening. i should have changed to a new bus and gone to the cave park entrance, which had many hotels. instead i was taken by a driver on a bicycle to different hotels. the first one wanted to charge me 800 rmb, the price of a four star hotel in Beijing for an old room in a hotel with a broken elevator. i would have to climb seven flights of stairs. i suggested to the driver to take me to a family inn. at the inn an argument ensued between several citizens saying that as a foreigner i should stay in a three star hotel, not an inn. the driver took me to yet another place and told the staff not to charge me too much, as i had already rejected another place. i stayed there. then i headed to the bus station and took a bus up the mountain to the cave park entrance. there were many inns there, any of which would have gladly put me up. but it was too late. i returned the next morning to visit the caves.
the entrance to the caves. the area is called the Kingwen Karst World Geopark, located in the transitional zone between the Sichuan basin and Yunnan-Guizhou plateau. carbonte bearing strata dating from 490 million years ago can be seen in the mountains.
the inns at the park
fruit stands and clothing stands in Xinwen
staying in this small rural town in the mountains was the first time i experienced causing a sensation anywhere i walked, just for being a foreigner. in the course of two hours i must have heard the word laowai a hundred times. kids would see me walking and say, "look a laowai".

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