We spent the whole time sitting around watching TV and playing with the kids or eating meals at all the different family members houses. We were so stuffed andlazy by the end of the 3 days. On the last night, one of the teenager cousins took us to play badminton. What we thought would have been a leisurely knocking back and forth of shuttlecocks turned into a frenzied sweat filled workout. Our muscles are still recovering.
On the last day, squeezed in just before we left the village by bus, Emily and I went to the bank to transfer the bulk of our Chinese RenMinBi earnings to our accounts in the USA. What had already been a 2 month long ordeal, finally came down to a 3 hour showdown at the bank on February 1st, 2001, the last working day before the New Year Festival. The short story is that in order to transfer RMB to a US account, you first have to withdraw the money, transfer it into US Dollars, and then transfer it - all in person at a Bank of China branch. Only we as the account holders can withdraw our money, but only Chinese-ID-card-holding Chinese nationals can transfer RMB to USD!!! And to top it off the chinese national has to be a friend or relative of the account holder. So we had no choice but to wait until we were with Emily's family inorder to make the transaction.
Because of the different celebrations and the fact that most of the time we were in a small village and not the major city, we were only able to go to the bank on the day we were leaving. When we showed up, at first they tried to tell us that they couldnt even do the transfer because the next day is Chinese New Year. This made no sense at all because they open and obviously working. after lots of questions, requests to see the manager, and refusals to leave, we found out that the real situation is that they wouldnt be able to process the transfer until after the new year holiday since it takes 3 working days to process and they just wanted to avoid trouble for themselves on the last working day before the holiday by telling us to come back after the holiday. unfortunately we would already be on a bicycle in the middle of nowhere by then. So in the end we won our battle against the Taishan branch of Bank of China and got our money our of China - probably a bad move since the exchange rate is changing every day making the RMB worth more and more dollars, but if we didnt do it now we would have never been able to.
As we rush home to pack our bags for the bus to Nanning, where we have decided to start our bike journey, Em's family - as per usual - LOADED us up with snacks; a giant bag of peanuts, 2 loaves of bread, 4 bags of pumpkin seeds, a bag of candies, 6 sticky rice filled with eggs peanuts and meat, 4 bags of different cookies, a bag of fried doughy balls , a box of egg tarts and a box of 'grandma cakes'! And remember, this was only for 2 of us!! We ended up sharing with everyone on the bus and gave a bunch to the drivers.
We made the 10 hour bus ride from Taishan to Nanning. We got in about 11pm and then rode our bikes 10km to the hotel. Our bikes have a few problems that we think were caused by being in the bus. Also I'm pretty sick with a head cold. so we've just rested for one day and caught the beautiful fireworks. Unfortunately all the bike shops we closed and we were forced to make a few quick fixes to the bikes which we hope will last until after the holiday.