"America... where's that?"

Guizhou Travel Blog

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After living in Guizhou for two years I am sure of one thing. Most people in the world have never been to a better place. I am of the firm belief that this part of China is still separated from the rest of the world in a way that make things like the Internet and International phone calls seem amazing.
That is not to say that being in a place like this is difficult… the ever present internet bar is still within reach and you can hop a flight out of the province capital and be in Beijing in 4 hours. However, there are also places that are cut off from the modern world… and those are the places I enjoy the most.

One a 3 day hike across open country a friend and I came through a small village (3 houses squeezed between mountains and rice paddies).

We didn’t want to intrude but it would be difficult to walk around the outlying hills and we figured with our limited Chinese we could explain ourselves to the locals if our trespassing caused any problems. We walked down a shepard’s path and started our way by one of the houses.
An old lady came out of her home to investigate the two rucksack laden hikers that were passing through her front yard. We nodded to her and said, “Ni hao” in general greeting. She smiled and came over to talk.
She spoke slowly but because of the dialect we weren’t catching much of anything she said. We finally made out “cong na li lai?” (where are you from).
I responder, “Meiguo” (America).
She shook her head, not understanding.
I repeated my answer and put on a thick local accent.
“Where?”, she said looking really confused.

My friend and I exchanged glances.
Our elderly companion looked at us inquisitively and said, “Is it near Beijing?”
“Bu!” (No) I responded.
“Russia?” she said hopefully.
“Bu” I repeated.
“You’re not Chinese, are you?” she said rather bluntly.
“Bu” I said once again.
“Well, it was nice to meet you!” she said turning around. And off she went.
My friend and I smiled at each other nervously and decided to move on.

This was my first experience being in a place where someone had no idea where America was… or that is was even a country! I liked that idea. It meant that Coke and McDonald’s hadn’t really taken over the world, and that there my still be hope for we adventurers who like to escape into places where electricity and running water are the coolest new discoveries.

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125 km (78 miles) traveled
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