Today we drove – and drove! We set off from the border of Vietnam and China – the town of DongXing, crossed all of Guangxi along the South China Sea, then into Guangdong province (ex-Canton of the British) to Xuwen. Xuwen is an old town and was famous during the Qing Dynasty, but as my colleagues say, development seems to have passed it by. People here now speak Cantonese, not Mandarin, so in villages we have some difficulty. Never let anyone tell you China has a single language! Even asking for the toilet can be a challenge.
Near the mouth of the Beilun River we stopped at an impressive mangrove restoration project – every March children come and plant mangroves, a real community project. The place is lovely and full of birds. Mangroves are true coastal protection and it is encouraging that in the face of what is otherwise rampant development there are at least some mangrove protected areas along this coast.
The expressway from DongXing could have been anywhere – the verges were planted with eucalyptus; the only thing that clued one into the fact that this was China was an occasional glimpse of rice paddies and the ladies with twig brooms sweeping the highway!
The Leichou peninsula of Guangdong (the bit that sticks down and leads to Hainan Island) is flat and devoted to agriculture – the land is not a monoculture, but rather a patchwork of monocultures; a square of pineapples, an oblong of ginger, some bananas, sugarcane and loads of vegetables. We collected in what had to be the worst place ever – a population in a village rubbish dump where we soon gathered a crowd of spectators!
Solanum in the rubbish
The watching crowd