When my father told me few months ago that he had bought return flight ticket to Nanning for our family trip, I was stunned… Errr… What?? Nanning ??.. An unfamiliar city of China that I seldom heard from any of my traveling friends.. I began to wonder, what can we see there ?..
Not much that I can found through from my research in the internet about this city. Most of it mentioned that Nanning is a big metropolitan city and was a popular stop-over city for traveler to cross border to Vietnam and vice –versa. Not much of attraction place in the city itself, however normally visitor need to travel 2-6 hours out of the city to visit interesting attraction such as Detian Waterfall, Mount Huashan, Yang Mei Ancient town and few more.. And even not many travel agent in Malaysia offers tours to Nanning due to lack of attraction here. When we went there few months ago, we didn’t know that there’s international convention held in Nanning at the same period, and most of the hotel are fully booked, and I didn’t manage to booked any car for our sightseeing. I know that we will be having lots of difficulties due to language barrier because most of the people there couldn’t speak any english. Yeah.. it’s not one of my favourite trip so far.
Our adventure started from the custom at the airport of Nanning. As usual, my Mom will bring lots of food for our trip due to the concern unable to find any halal eateries. Passing through the customs, the officer had asked us to open our food bag and seized all the food that we bring. We were quite surprised as we never had this problem before whenever we travel to China and trying to talk to the non-english speaking officer is a waste of time.
Exiting the arrival hall, we noticed that not much taxi available at the airport, and the queue was sooo loong, so we decided to take the airport shuttle bus which stop in front of Vienna Hotel, at the middle of Chaoyang Road. Although the airport bus stop just in front of the main road and beside a taxi stand, none of the available taxi want to send us to our hotel. While trying to get the taxi for almost half an hour, rain started to pour heavily and we had to take shelter in front of the shops with all our luggages. I’ve tried to call the hotel, WanXing Beining hotel for a hotel pick-up, but sadly they unable to help us to get any car or taxi, even the nearby Hotel Vienna, also unable to help us. It was soo frustrated when you see there is actually a lot of taxi park nearby the bus stop, but none of them want to sent us to our hotel, just because we are foreinger. The hotel actually located just 1km away, but to walk in the heavy rains with our big luggage was just impossible. Luckily almost 2hour later, 2 tuk-tuk came and she agreed to bring us to our hotel. Just imagine, 5 of us riding in 2 small tuk-tuk with all our luggage in a heavy raining night.. TERRIBBLE !!!.. We arrived at the hotel 10minutes later, soaking wet..!
Four days in Nanning, we just walked and explore whole town ourselves. The weather during our trip was quite bad, with raining pouring almost every evening.. Luckily our hotel, Wanxing Beining hotel located at the middle of the town, so its easy for us to explore the town by foot. I found it quite ironic when seeing “Welcome to Nanning, the Green City”upon arrival. It was quite gray to be exact, and after a day walking around in haze, we were quite exhausted. It was a matured urban city, with few highrises and shopping mall concerntrating at its city center, pretty quiet and laid back, compared to many of the big cities in China such as Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beiijng. It can be as enjoyable as any city in China can be, a little history and some beautiful clean parks but with heavy traffic problems and a lot of building work and bedlam caused by the building of the new MTR and fast railway service. We hang around the Xingning Pedestrian street almost everyday.. Frankly speaking, 4 days in Nanning feels too long as nothing much that we can do in Nanning.
Besides that, we did visited the Qingziu Mountain Nanning, a public park in the middle of Nanning, is just a short ride away from the city. not bad place for an easy day going, a close-to-town seclution from the hustle and bustle of the city. It does not look like a mountain when we stands near to the ticket office. But it is a long way to walk to the top with steep gradient that even the passenger tram has to spur on its power to reach the top. At the top is a temple complex with with panoramic views of Nanning. The park is rather large, spread out that there is no way that you could do all of it properly in one day. We went up by tram and slowly took our way down. There are beautifully manicured gardens, lakes, pagodas and few lakes with many koi fish inside it. Be prepared to walk a lot or you can catch a hop on and hop off buggy (RMB5) for every ride.
As recommended in the net, we also had a day trip to Detian Waterfall, the second largest trans-national waterfall in the world (the largest being the Niagara Falls) that lies between north Vietnam and Guangxi Province in southern China. Luckily I managed to get a last minutes local guides that I met during our lunch at one of the local restaurant. It was not cheap though, it cost us 1600RMB for a day, including driver and guide.. but since nothing much that we can do in Nanning, we decided to go for it. The lonely planet guide advises it takes 3 and a half hours…it took just over 4 hours going there and back in one day was tiring, but the scenery on the way is beautiful and the waterfall was absolutely stunning.The trip to the falls is really beautiful and we can discover the chinese countryside. Its raining when we reached the waterfall area, but luckily its stopped an hour later.. The view of the waterfall was beautiful. We ride a bamboo raft to go closer to the waterfall, and also hike the hills to go to the border of China and Vietnam, where is also small markets selling stuffs and the border.
Because Nanning does not have to many foreigners visiting its city, especially in some areas, people are quite rude indeed and undisciplined. They stare at you quite openly, which is quite menacing, they do not believe in queing up for anything, so whatch out if you need public transport and they ride their scooters on the pavements and through red traffic lights, so watch your backs. However, one thing that I notice is the charming old chinese lifestyle in Nanning still well kept intact although the city is undergoing modernization. We can still see local people gather at the parks in morning for morning exercise, even dance to the local music.
Tips for Muslim
During our stay in Nanning, I found out that halal food can easily be found here. There’s a lot of muslim’s restaurant scattered around the city centre, even there’s one nearby the hotel we stay. There is also a mosque in the city centre, just few minutes walk from the Xingning pedestrian shopping street, attached together with a big muslim’s foodcourt on the ground, and a dinning hall for groups if you prefer a quite meal together with your family. And also a few restaurants nearby the mosque. So, for muslims traveling to Nanning should not be worried if they stay at the city center.