Our first hitchhiking experience in China, from Nanning to Guilin, being a success we decided to leave Yangshuo and head to the city of Fenghuang the same way. Fenghuang was 460 km away which we thought we could do in one day. From our peaceful retreat at the English school, we were taken by a worker on his tractor to reach Yangshuo city. Then we easily found a car to bring us to Guilin. But the two men on the car headed to the North East of Guilin and we wanted to go to the North, so we decided that they could leave us at the junction in the North of Guilin. Unfortunately, when they dropped us there (after offering us a beautiful Chinese poem engraved on a piece of wood), we realized the road was cut… It was the beginning of our 48h nightmare!
Hitchhiking tip n°1: have a Chinese message to introduce yourself. As we said in our previous article, we had a message written on our notebook saying who we are and asking for a free ride. It is mandatory if you do not speak Chinese and in order to gain confidence of the drivers. It was very useful for us!
Hitchhiking tip n°2: have a paper map of China. We did not have one and we struggled to understand where the drivers headed to, even with the map on the smartphone. When our Guilin drivers left us, we were on a dusty road, not knowing how to get back on the good road. Finally a driver took us to a bus stop where we decided to take a city bus to go back to Guilin city centre from where the road to Fenghuang started.
Hitchhiking tip n°3: avoid city centre. In Guilin city centre, the road to Fenghuang was not the highway it looked like on our smartphone. We started to hitchhike, hoping someone would bring us West, out of town, but locals started to gather around us, telling us where the bus station was, not understanding our concept of not taking the bus. We gave up and took a bus to Longsheng, which was on the way to Fenghuang. However we discovered there was no highway to go there, only a road in the mountain, and it was already 5pm when we reached Longsheng, still 300 km away from Fenghuang…
Hitchhiking tip n°4: don’t hitchhike by night. 5pm and exhausted by our day, we decided it was not worth it to hitchhike with the night falling. We found a hotel and ate delicious sesame cookies we found in a stall on the street (our highlight of the day!). Longsheng is a small city with only one road leaving to the West, our direction. So the next day we started hitchhiking on this road. A driver accepted to bring us to another junction where the road heading to the North was. We got stuck for one hour in a car accident. And when we arrived at the junction, there were not a lot of cars passing by…
Hitchhiking tip n°5: be open and take a car according to its direction, not only your final destination. That’s what we tried, all the cars at the junction were heading in the direction of our destination! So we tried different to wave our sign with different names of cities, Tongtao, Huai Hua, Fenghuang.
Hitchhiking tip n°6: be patient!… or give up! Waving our different signs may have worked, however after 15 minutes we got spotted by a bus which was going to Tongtao, so as we were so tired and it was already the afternoon, we jumped on it, paid our ride to Tongtao and then changed another bus to Huai Hua.
We decided to give up hitchhiking to go to Fenghuang and we hoped to get to Huai Hua early enough to get the last bus to Fenghuang. To bad for us, the bus left us in a different bus station than the one with the buses to Fenghuang. We struggled to find the right bus station when taking a city bus. When we arrived, the last bus had left few minutes earlier! The people at the bus station invited us to sleep in a building inside the bus station. So for 40 Y, we had a very very basic room for the night in the bus station and we laugh a lot with the happy lady in charge, because she was telling us so many things in Chinese but we could not reply!
The next morning we took our bus to Fenghuang! Finally!
Hitchhiking 2 – Us 1