Caves and Hills

Nicholas Quirke was staying local on 29 August 2020 though he was going to need to take transport to his first destination, The Reed Cave, which was one of the stops on the Number 1 sightseeing bus he could get about three hundred metres from his hotel. The route to the stop took him along the river and on this beautiful hot summer day he was delighted to see the boulevard filled with Middle Aged dancers of all genders. He could not resist the temptation to film them and was delighted when several played to the camera Annoyingly he had to wait 45 minutes for the bus though as it only cost 2 yuan he didn’t feel the need to complain. When he got to the caves he was further irritated to discover that he had to purchase his ticket in cash which he did not have. He asked one of the aides and they tried to buy a ticket through a WeChat app on his phone but this was a struggle for both and a third worker, with excellent English resolved the problem by taking a payment through the phone and paying the ticket office cash. He then became the personal help sorting out bus times and as there was a shuttle to the cave entrance he made Nicholas sit down to wait. By the time the shuttle arrived a queue had formed but the assistant put him at the front of the queue. Once he was in the cave he was astounded by it immense cavernous interiors, it was like something out of ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’. Though everything was lit with coloured lights he still Goya a sense of the incredible shapes and forms that the Stalagmites and stalactites had formed and what an extraordinary alien world it projected. A guide led people round pointing out various features but as it was in Chinese and he could not understand he contrived to get ahead of the large group and enjoy the visual treats on his own. He particularly loved the reflections in the underground lakes of the illuminated formations. He had been to Chedder Gorge many years before but his memory was that it did not match the scale of the immense interiors of the rock he was inside. It was beautifully cool underground, but once he was back in the air he was overwhelmed with the heat and waiting for a bus seemed too much effort. He enlisted Peng’s assistance again and headed back to the hotel area for lunch before visiting the Elephant hill Scenic Area. He ate at an Indian and throughout Lunch enjoyed watching some workmen fix a leak from the roof of a bar. Elephant Hill was really close and at first sight not as impressive as he thought it might be, but a tour round the weird Love Island, seeing caution notices and ‘No Swimming’ yet the children were oddly swimming in the water, and a climb up the the hill for some great views of the city was worth it. He encountered many Chinese wanting to talk and say hello and he even posed for some photos. As he neared his hotel one of the stall holders started chatting and showed him the paintings he and some friends had done and despite saying it was his name stamp Nicholas was oddly unconvinced. After a large lunch he made do with snacks for supper and retired to the hotel and sleep.

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