As last reported, 9 months ago I took off to find the pool-in-the-middle-of-nowhere, only to discover that it was closed. There was my adament promise made to return in May, hopefully on opening day, to once again try my luck.
Last week, I kept that promise and hit the jackpot! I took the amazing scenic journey on the Number 2 loop bus, starting from the square and banging along bumpy roads. Here you can enjoy visuals from the starting adventure back to the pool-in-the-middle-of-nowhere.
The Road 2 bus in the Longzhou square, ready to head off into the wilderness of Guangxi.
Alighting at the crossroads
The crossroads stop.
Not much here but a mom-and-pop convenience store
I met up with my duck seller, still at her usual corner, who informed me that today was the pool’s opening day.
Ms. Fu, the town roasted duck seller, and I meet again.
It was nearing 4 p.m. when I trekked the long tree-lined corridor under a sizzling sun, around the tea company office building, past the banana trees, cruising by the water tank, skirting the tea plantation, along the pineapple field and up the gravel walkway to the pool.
My journey down the tree-lined corridor begins.
The staff of young folk were surprised to find their one and only customer for opening day was a foreigner, the only one within 100 mile radius. I paid my 6 yuan ($1.00) fee and had the entire 50 meter pool to myself.
Purchasing my ticket
My ticket in hand, first swimmer of the season.
The pool is all to myself.
No lifeguards were present. The young men and women in charge of watching swimmers, renting out inner tubes, selling the pool’s small supply of suits, cleaning up the grounds and cooking snacks for customers were hanging out in the heat under a tent at the entrance. They were playing cards and allowed me to have the full use of the pool without an onlookers.
Inner tubes available for rent
The staff, hanging out under their tent.
The water was quite clear and fresh but not chlorinated. This is the usual standard for many pools in China that are privately owned and run. As long as the water is changed, the sanitation is not much of an issue. Standards are pretty lax about these things unless you are located in a big city, such as Nanning. Inspections are on a regular basis there and facilities are closed if safety codes or sanitation are not strictly followed.
For the pool-in-the-middle-of-nowhere, it’s pretty much so far out there that no one bothers about checking it. (See below, in need of a water change when I was there yesterday.)
People Getting To Know Me
After my initial swim last Tuesday, I have been back 5 times. The bus drivers are getting to know me now. They smile when I get on or off as I announce, “I’m going swimming!” or “I finished my swimming. Time to go home.”
The crossroad locals aren’t quite as startled to see the foreigner’s arrival in their midst.
The crossroad’s residents are getting used to my presence.
My duck seller, Ms. Fu, and I talk while I wait for the bus on my return journey to Longzhou.
The pool staff calls out my name whenever I approach. Sometimes, the young men give me a ride on the back of their motor scooters if they’re heading to the main road.
After my swims, we also play with the puppy that they’ve adopted. Puppy is a little girl dog with a very sweet, quiet disposition. She is well-loved by those there who feed her and coddle her. She will have a wonderful life as the mascot for the pool-in-the-middle-of-nowhere.
Our sweet disposition puppy.
A squeaky toy gift from me for our pool-in-the-middle-of-nowhere mascot
The Weekend Meeting in Nanning
Today and tomorrow, the pool is closed while the water is being changed and the bottom of the pool scrubbed. It’ll be ready to go by Friday, but I have an Amity meeting to attend in Nanning this weekend. There are 4 Amity teachers in this province and we are gathering together for a reunion. We haven’t seen one another for 2 years, since the 2010 Nanjing orientation, which is quite a long time.
Also this weekend in Nanning, my former Amity teaching mate(Lena) and I are will be discussing the summer’s orientation for our newcomers to China. They’ll be arriving August 8 in Nanjing where they will take off for Yangshuo, a touristy town, to receive instruction on how to teach and work in China.
Lena and I have been asked to lead the 3 weeks of this orientation for our 20 new teachers. We’ll be dividing duties, discussing what components should be included in the sessions and who will lead them. Lots of work but we hope to have a good pre-planning session so we’ll be ready to go come August.
After the return to Longzhou on Sunday, I’ll be back to our pool-in-the-middle-of-nowhere swims in between teaching classes here at the school.
Hope you’ve enjoy the photos of my pool journey! From China, here’s wishing you Ping An (peace) for your day.
I have been in the Asia region for 18 years as an English language teacher. 13 of those have been spent with the Amity Foundation, a Chinese NGO that works in all areas of development for the Chinese people. Amity teachers are placed at small colleges throughout China as instructors of English language majors in the education field. In other words, my students will one day be English teachers themselves in their small villages or towns once they graduate. Currently, this is my second year in Guangxi Province at the 3-year college, Guangxi Normal University for Nationalities. The college is located in smalltown longzhou, 1 hour from the Vietnam border.