A Travellerspoint blog

Moving to Kangding, next stop the far West!

Day 121 – Wednesday 23rd May

So I got up at 5am today!! It was still dark, and I was still in my creepy ass hotel, but apart from that all was well, it felt good to be alone for once as well, no one slowing me down with the wake up routine. Anyway, got in a cab to the bus station (got an outrageous price due to what time it was!) and got there around 6ish. After getting some dumplings and waiting for the bus station to actually open, I hopped on the bus and we left at half 6. The bus was by far the worst I’ve had, it was so dirty and smelly, and not to mention very fucking bumpy (not the bus’s fault but still). Also, due to the remoteness of the place I was leaving and going to, everyone on the bus spent the entire time staring at me, I was at the back as well, so for the whole journey they were all sat the wrong way round, breaking their necks to get a look. If you want a sure fire way to feel completely alone, that’s it! The bus took around 9 hours, nothing of note really happened, just some beautiful scenery on the way and a broken arse once we arrived. Got here, put my bag down in the hostel, which is actually one of the nicer ones I’ve stayed in and went for a little walk around. This place is sort of in a valley, so it’s really nice all around, and the weather is still holding up, spent a couple of hours watching some shit on the internet, then went out for dinner. The food in Sichuan is famed for being super spicy and they use yak meat in everything, and the result is some fucking tasty food. While I was eating my ‘muscle noodles’ some drunk guy came in (literally paralytic) and after sitting down for a while not knowing where the hell he was, he stole some guy’s dumpling, and quickly got told he had to leave, unfortunately he didn’t have a fucking clue what was going on, and it took him a good 20 minutes just to get his bottle of rice wine back into his handbag. The whole scenario was absolutely hilarious, after that, I headed back to the hostel for an early night.

Day 122 – Thursday 24th May

Had a very nice lie in today, first time for weeks it seems, with all this bloody travelling and the fact that all buses around here seem to feel the need to leave at the crack of dawn, I’ve lost a ton of sleep. After I eventually got up, I spent about an hour or so just sitting in bed and finishing off ‘The Catcher in The Rye’ pure bliss! I was supposed to read it years ago for GCSE, so it was nice to actually finish it and find out what actually happened in it, really should of read it before my exam, but too little too late I guess. Despite the guy being a twat, it’s such a good book and super depressing as well. Once I eventually got up, I went straight to the bus station to get my ticket to Ganzi, right up in the North West of Sichuan, only a few hours from the border of Tibet (to clear that up, there’s no way I can go to Tibet, that’s always been closed by land for tourists). And I managed to get the ticket, fucking result, the West Sichuan is now open again, yay!! Once I’ve done my 11 hour bus to Ganzi, I’ll spend a couple of days there taking in all the Tibetan culture, then head on right up to the border to a town which is only reached by a 5000 metre high pass which is a single track road, and safe to say if someone’s coming the other way you’re completely fucked. Apparently whilst you’re on the bus, all the Tibetans chant prayers and throw prayer paper all over the shop, should be a bloody awesome if not terrifying experience. After that I’ll just village hop a bit, and go right up to the border, before heading back East again. After getting that ticket and feeling super happy, I went and got some more delicious food, and spent what was left of the day sitting around the hostel. I’m currently in a phase of budget cuts, the whole Lugu Hu experience cost me a ton of money, so I need to spend a couple of days not doing anything, which doesn’t bother me, this hostel is on the 3rd floor with a huge roof section with stunning views (great place to kick back and have a few beers). I got to bed nice and early today as I have a 5am wake up again tomorrow for my 6am bus. Fun times!

Day 123 – Friday 25th May

So I got up before the crack of dawn today, and headed down to the bus station, all ready for my bus out of here, and on to pastures new. So I go to my gate and hand the woman my ticket and she rips it then gives it back to me, then realizes where I’m going, staples it back together and tells me I can’t go. Are you fucking serious! So after going to the ticket office and her pointing and me and explaining that West Sichuan is now closed again for white people, I was pissed. So I offered her some money, and she declined, then I offered a minibus driver some money and he declined, very unlike China! So there it is, the West was open for all of 4 days and it closed again last night, fucking monks burning themselves in the street! Why can’t they just wait a week or so, I wanna see the West!! Anyway, I went to get my money back from the ticket desk, and this monk clearly felt sorry for me so he gave me 20 yuan (the ticket was 130 and she only had 150 and I had no change to make it up) very unusual as monks are normally asking for donations all the time. So, I headed back to the hostel, a defeated man and went straight back to bed. Once I got up, I was in a bit of a better mood, but still super frustrated, so I just sat around the hostel and watched a film. Men in Black 3 came out today in China, so I asked the staff to phone up the cinema and ask if it was being shown in English, it wasn’t, brilliant! So they asked me to accompany them on a little day out as they had some shit to buy from the village and I had bugger all else to do. So, we went out, and bought a new wifi router (the wifi hasn’t been working at all of late) and they needed some curtains and some new bed sheets. It was nice to have a little walk around the place, it’s really nice, and they also took me out for some food (I’m not going to refuse a free meal) then the 4 of us headed back to the hostel. And guess who was waiting there, the Canadian guy I met in Shangri-La, last time he saw me I had no money, and my bags were very far away from me, since he managed to see a bit of West Sichuan, but he came here to Kangding with the same plan as me so he was very pissed to find out it was closed again. Then me, him and a couple of the girls and another guy who works here all went out for dinner at this absolutely amazing restaurant, they genuinely had the best barbequed chicken I’ve had in my life! It was so bloody tasty. Then after a few beers and a catch up with Mr. Canada (forgot his name) I hit the hay.

Posted by travellingjoe 00:26 Archived in China Comments (2)

Lugu Hu Lake

Day 118 – Sunday 20th May

Got up at 7 this morning, packed up all my stuff and headed to the bus station, feels like I’m always travelling at the moment, it’s so frustrating (as it wastes days) not to mention very expensive, but China is so big that I have to keep moving. Today I’m getting a bus to Lugu Hu, it’s East of here on the border of the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, and it’s supposed to be very beautiful and a nice place to relax for a few days. Unfortunately, my English patience didn’t pay off, as I let everyone on the bus in front of me and I was left with the fold down chair next to the driver. Yes it does mean I get a good view, but the seat is way more uncomfortable, with less leg room and as we’re headed East I’ve got the sun in my face all the way. I’ve been surrounded by incredible mountains for so long now that I’m started to take it for granted, but the views here are always spectacular, and I haven’t dropped below 2500m in well over a week now so I’m really getting spoilt (and the weather hasn’t been half bad). After about 7 hours, we made it to the entrance, and there was the obvious charge for getting into the area (100 yuan) which you know goes straight in to the pockets of the local government, and the bus was already 90, so starting to be a very expensive day. At one of the stops, I got talking with a group of other white people (hard to miss) and they were 5 students who had just finished an exchange semester in Hong Kong, and were going for a few weeks travelling together. Including me, there were 3 guys, from England, Colombia and Australia, and 3 girls, from Spain, Sweden and France, so we had a lot covered. Once we made it to the lake, we had to spend an hour or so waiting around to get on a bus to a more scenic village down the road, so we decided to merge and find a place to stay together, it was a good laugh when people asked where we were from and we all listed off our respective countries. Once we got to the other village, everywhere was booked up (number 1 rule in China, never arrive somewhere on a Sunday as it’s their only day off!) so we were forced to stay in a fancy hotel. Luckily the guy took pity on us and actually gave us a much better price than that listed, but still it was double what I’d normally pay, but at least double as nice! Once we were all showered, we headed out for the local specialty here which is a barbeque in the middle of your table and an assortment of meats and vegetables which you put on yourself until they are cooked, and then you eat (obviously)! The whole meal was very tasty, but after the expenses of today, I really should’ve cut back and had a plain rice somewhere! After a few beers by the idyllic lake, we all hit the hay in our luxury rooms.

Day 119 Monday 21st May

Got up at 9 today, as we had to get checked in to the hostel up the road, and the guy said he’d only keep our rooms free until 10, so after a bloody nice shower in our en suite bathroom, we headed over there. After getting all the rooms sorted, we headed down to the lake (like 20 metres away) and found a Naxi woman (native of Yunnan) to take us on a boat ride. Side note, while I remember; in the Naxi culture, women rule (as with every other culture even if they refuse to admit it) which means that they are the ones to choose their partners, so they ‘mate’ with a load of men before they find one which is suitable. They are also allowed to have little friends with benefits on the side as the man stays home to take care of the kids, not such a bad way of doing things if you ask me, let the women do all the work! Anyway, we got in her little boat and went on a rowing trip around the lake (not all around it as its 75 km square or something) but a quick 40ish minute tour, traditional singing (horrible screeching) included. It was all very quaint but the woman wouldn’t let us jump in for a swim, but once we made it back to the shore she was like yeah sure go in now, as I guess we’re no longer her responsibility and she won’t get fucked by the police (which are everywhere in this province). So we duly obliged and all jumped in (eventually) as the water was freezing. I was obviously first in with all my DPRK frozen lake experience, and it was all in all very refreshing, and the lake is so god dam pristine that it felt really nice, until it got so cold you could barely breathe. We dried off by sunbathing for a while, and due to the high altitude here it turns out it’s very easy to get burnt, which was a big surprise to me as I spent weeks and weeks trying to get tanned with no avail. After a quick lunch, we all headed back and spent a few hours relaxing in the sun and reading by the lake, really bliss day, exactly what I needed after all this travelling and lack of sleep. Then after a few hours, we decided to go for a walk round the lake and catch the sun go down on the mountains around us, we also went for another quick dip. All in all a super nice afternoon, and the group I’m with are all really cool. We had another barbeque dinner tonight, why not as we’re only here once, and we’re getting a bus out of here tomorrow, back on the bloody road again! After dinner we then played some cards which they all took way too seriously, there’s obviously a few weeks of tension in their games going on, which made the whole experience pretty hilarious. Then after a quick Skype session I hit the hay for a 6 wake up tomorrow, for fuck sake!

Day 120 – Tuesday 22nd May

So we got up at the crack of dawn this morning to get on a minibus to the bus station (which we were told was 2 hours away) which only took 20 minutes, so I could’ve had an extra hour’s sleep, at least! Ah well, at least we made it in time, rather than missing it. Today I’m going to Xichang which is directly east of here in the Sichuan province, My ultimate goal from here is to head in to West Sichuan (near the Tibetan border) as China changes in to Tibet and I don’t have to see any more big cities. Unfortunately, over the last 3 months, there have been over 30 instances of monks publicly burning themselves in protest, so the government haven’t allowed tourists in (who knew the Chinese government like to cover things up!). Anyway, I’ve heard that it’s just opened again, so I need to make my way in there as soon as possible before it starts again, and who knows I might even see a monk burn himself although I hope not as I’d find that fucking horrifying. So after about an 8 hour bus, we made it to Xichang, and I tried to book my ticket to the first stop on the Tibetan highway, but I got greeted with the words ‘no I don’t have’ which was great! I assumed this would be due to the reasons listed above, but I wasn’t giving up there and I was going to try the other bus station all the way on the other side of town. So after a quick lunch with the group, we all split up as one girl had to get a plane ticket and the rest had to stick with the bags (they’re getting a train to Chengdu later tonight). I checked myself in to a crummy Chinese hotel, dropped off my bag and heade to the bus station. Whilst waiting for a bus, with no clue where I was going nor how to say bus station, a man cam eup to me and asked if I needed help, thank God! So he told me what bus to get on, and came with me to the station as he needed a ticket as well, and offered me a job to be a teacher, unfortunately I have no intention of sticking around here (as it’s a ghost town with absolutely no other westerners) so I duly declined. But, at this bus station I was able to book myself a ticket to Kanding, result! Unfortunately it leaves tomorrow morning at 6:30, fuck off!!! So I headed home (to my shit hotel) had some food, went to a cyber café, and then tried to find the other guys to say goodbye. Didn’t manage to find them as they were in 2 parts and we were in a big ass city, so I headed back to my room which was on the 5th floor (the roof) and sat down to chill out and watch a bit of TV before going to bed relatively early. I’m so bored of jumping around so much, but I really don’t have a choice, now that I’m in the no train territory, I need to keep getting buses, and whereas a 24 hour train doesn’t sound so bad, a bus of that length sounds like hell, the buses in China are nothing short of fucking disgusting! So as a result I need to stop off in places all along the way, and due to my proposed route and the difficulties involved, I can’t go direct anyway as there’s lots of different borders you can’t cross etc. Anyway, 5 o’clock wake up tomorrow, all is well, not!

Posted by travellingjoe 08:08 Archived in China Comments (2)

The Tiger Leaping Gorge

Day 111 – Sunday 13th May

After a maximum of 2 hours sleep last night on the train, we made it in to Kunming this morning. Once we arrived, we bought a ticket for a 9 hour train to Lijiang (North West of here) which leaves in only 2 hours. So, we went on a little walk to find Greg an MP3 player (as it was accidentally thrown away by one of the cleaners at a hostel) and got some food. Once we were done, we came back to the station and got on our train (no seat of course) luckily the carriages weren’t as packed as usual, so I was able to put down my bag and sit on that, while Greg managed to find a seat every now and again before someone kicked him off. I did a bit more reading, and managed to fit in another couple of hours of very uncomfortable sleep. The views from the train on the way were awesome, and as we were travelling in the day, there was something to see the whole way. We’re now deep in the Yunan province, so there’s mountains galore (right next to the Himalayas) and lots of other awesome things to see. We eventually arrived in Lijiang which is a small old town, which has lost all of its character due to tourism but still it’s a lot nicer than the big cities we’ve been in recently. We managed to find a really nice (and cheap) hostel right in the centre, and we dropped off our bags and got some food. Then when we came back here, I sat down to watch the final day of the premier league on my laptop, don’t really want to talk too much about what happened, but let’s just say I never thought I’d see city win the title in my lifetime. So frustrating that we were so close, but yeah won’t talk about it, and then we went to bed!

Day 112 – Monday 14th May

Finally had a lie in this morning, with all the travelling around lately I’ve barely been sleeping 4 hours a night, so it felt amazing to get up at around 1 today. Unfortunately this meant that we missed the 12 o’clock checkout, and after packing our stuff we didn’t leave until around 3. After a massive argument with the hostel owner, we had to pay for a half day (normal custom, just we didn’t want to spend any more money). We then got going, and after a wild goose chase of terrible directions from official tourist points, we eventually found an ATM (no more for a week) and after that we got to the bus station. I can’t express how frustrating it is that even tourist help points can’t even read a fucking map of their own city, when they’re the ones selling the bloody things, unbelievable!!! Anyway, we eventually got on our bus to Qiatou (the starting point for the tiger leaping gorge). The bus took around 2 and a half hours, and we made it to the first stop on the trek, Jane’s Guest House, at around 7:30pm. Any normal person would call it a day then, and start the trek tomorrow in order to not get lost in the dark. Unfortunately we are retarded and impatient, so we hit the road. After about an hour it got dark and we were very much lost, after asking for directions in a couple of villages we passed (guess how that went!) we eventually asked a man to walk us. Turns out we went very much the wrong way and we still had about an hour and a half to walk, luckily the man was only charging us 5 yuan each. At about half 10, we eventually arrived at the first guest house on the trail, and the man asked for 50 yuan, each! Typical Chinese dick! We gave him 60 and told him to piss off, as he sat there and watched us eat, obviously expecting us to buy him a meal, no luck there mate. The tiger leaping gorge is one of the most famous treks in China, the gorge is nestled between mountains of well over 4000m in the Himalayas. The trek normally takes 2 days, and is famed for amazing views and silence (rare in China) Michael Palin once did a piece on it as well which I guess put it on the map for English tourists. Anyway we got to bed as we have an early start tomorrow, we’re going to try and do the whole trek in a day (the reason why we started tonight as we could get going straight away on the right path).

Day 113 – Tuesday 15th May

Wow, what a long fucking day! So we got up at 7, and after a bit of pissing around and some breakfast we hit the trail around 8:30. This time we kept our eyes peeled for any arrows so that we didn’t get lost again, unfortunately after only 5 minutes a farmer told us we went the wrong way and pointed us back on track, from now we will really look out for arrows showing the way. The weather wasn’t great today, which meant that it wasn’t too hot, and also gave an incredible view of the mountains as thick cloud passed over all the peaks and you saw them every now and again for a split second. The walk overall took about 7 hours which includes us stopping at every guest house on the way to get some food or a hot drink. All the guest houses are so nice here, they have incredible views and one of them even has an ‘inspiration balcony’ which was really fucking awesome, I felt super inspired! The trek was not particularly difficult, apart from one steep bit (the 28 bends of death) at the start, the rest was plain sailing, so once we reached the end, we decided to walk a bit further and lucky we did as we found the nicest guest house. It had the most incredible views from all the rooms and the restaurant and was not expensive, especially considering what you got! We decided that the trek wasn’t enough for us, and decided to go down to the tiger leaping stone, which is right down in the valley next to the rapids of the river, and should take 40 minutes to get down. We decided to run down, as it looked like it was about to start raining and we didn’t really feel like getting soaked. The stone at the bottom is where (supposedly) a tiger jumped from one side to the other of the gorge and is where the place gets its name from. It was cool to see everything from down below, but my legs were completely knackered from the trek today, as well as the stupid run down to the bottom. So, the walk back up was nothing short of excruciating, but having made it to the top it’s not so bad. The trek was relatively easy as well (compared to what we were expecting) so it was good to push the old motor. Greg is getting a train back to Kunming tomorrow as his visa is about to expire and he’s moving on to Laos, so after a month of seeing China, as well as a week in North Korea, it was our final night. We decided to have a really nice dinner, and splashed out (a little bit) and sat in the guest house listening to music for a while. Then we went to bed, I’m gonna sleep bloody well tonight I assume.

Day 114 – Wednesday 16th May

So we had a very well deserved lie in today, and woke up to an incredible view out the window of our room. After getting his stuff together and having some food, Greg got the bus back to Lijiang where he has a train to Kunming later tonight. Had some classic times with Greg, and a couple really frustrating ones (mainly involving trains or lack of ability to speak to Chinese) as well as a couple hairy moments. But all in all, we saw a shit ton of China and it was fun all the way, and would not have liked to have done it alone, unfortunately having spent so much time with him my French has really deteriorated (which makes no sense) but I’ve learnt a lot about French politics, as well as where the country is now, as I haven’t been to France in quite a while. It was fun to watch some classic French movies and comedians which I used to watch as a kid with Ber as well. After he left, I booked myself on a bus to Baishuitai tomorrow where there are supposed to be some amazing limestone lakes. And then I proceeded to spend the evening chatting with an English and an Aussie couple (really nice to be speaking English again). Unfortunately, as with everyone on this trek they went to bed bloody early so I was left there all alone. Luckily, you’re never alone too long in China, and this group of 3 guys invited me to have some rice wine with them and pose for the obligatory photos. The spirits here are absolutely horrible but it’s hard to turn down a free drink, as it’s a sign of rudeness here, and obviously I wouldn’t turn it down anyway. Once they went to bed I really was all alone, and as I’m staying in a dorm tonight (due to financial reasons) I have to walk in the pitch black to the communal bathrooms, which is very scary. I’m also in a dorm room of 6 beds and no other people with the wind rattling the windows all the time, so it’s all very creepy. Add to that I’m reading a bloody tense book, I had to sleep with the light on, true man style!

Day 115 – Thursday 17th May

Got up at 11 today after a very bad night’s sleep, and got going 30 minutes down the road to get on my bus. Unfortunately, the bus broke down along the way, so it was a good 3 hours late! I decided to leave my bag in the hostel in order to feel free (my big bag was left at the first hostel on the trek, and I’ve been using my small bag for the last couple of days) this will prove to be a very fatal error, but I’ll get to that. So, I eventually got on my bus, and after about a 2 and a half hour drive I made it to my destination, which was a very small and remote village where the limestone lake terraces are located. So once I got off the bus, I headed straight to see the main attraction, and after about 15 minutes I realised that it was definitely not worth the trip! I’d seen photos and the lakes looked awesome, but I was expecting a whole mountain face of these terraces when there turned out to only be about 10! So after about 10 minutes of walking around and taking a few pics I was done for the day. So I decided to lie down and sunbathe for a bit, then headed to a little family guest house about 5 minutes away which was only 1 pound a night, result! Here it dawned on me that I had absolutely fuck all to do, as I had left my bag behind with my book and I’d spent the whole day listening to music and was bored of it. So, I bought a few beers and sat and watched the sunset and then watched the stars for a bit (due to pollution, it’s very rare to see stars in China, so it’s always worth taking them in when you get the chance). I also didn’t have much money, and the earliest I’m going to get to a cash machine will be tomorrow night, so I had to strategically wait for a Chinese group to finish eating and then clear up their scraps for dinner, Chinese people always leave so much and I didn’t want it to go to waste. Unfortunately they caught me red handed and gave me some dirty looks, but I’d already started so I just acted casual and carried on. Eventually my boredom got the better of me so I sat down and watched China’s got talent, which was as expected, awful! I then went to bed relatively early as I have to get up at 7 tomorrow to catch my bus back to the gorge.

Day 116 – Friday 18th May

So I got up nice and early today, and the guest house woman gave me a free breakfast (I think she realised last night that I was relatively poor at the moment) which was very nice of her. She then stopped my bus and put me on it and said goodbye. The bus was going the opposite direction to the way I had come, but I thought maybe it would do a loop, and she knew where I was going so I got on. After about 2 hours, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going the right way, and after 3 hours when the bus eventually arrived at its destination I definitely knew I hadn’t gone the right way. I then found out that I was in Shangri-La, a good 50km away from where I wanted to be, Shit! And as I had only paid for a return ticket to the gorge, the bus driver asked for money, but as I’ve mentioned I have none. So after showing him I had no bag and no money and telling him where I want to be, he still asked for money, so I ran off and hid around the corner until he drove away. Luckily, I bumped in to a Canadian who had been before, so he showed me to the old town, the main attraction of Shangri-La, which was pretty crap to be honest. The whole place has lost its entire Tibetan feel, and is now just a wash of tourist shops selling tat and overpriced restaurants. The coolest thing about Shangri-La is the fact that its 3300 metres high, so you can feel the air is thinner, and the sun feels a lot harsher. So after a quick look around, we decided that the best plan was to get a few beers and just sit around in the nice weather. After a couple of hours here, I hopped on a bus back to Qiatou (where the trek starts). This is where the whole bag problem began to sink in. With only around £12 and knowing I would need 4 to get a bus to Lijiang as well as 2.50 for my room and whatever else for food, I was stuffed. Luckily I was reunited with my big bag which I had left here at the start of the trek. Unfortunately my small bag was a good 5-7 hour trek away, and with no more transport going there at this time, I was fucked. After phoning the guest house where I had left my bag, and having serious language problems, all I could do was sit down and hope to sort it out tomorrow. If I don’t get to Lijiang tomorrow I am screwed, as I desperately need to take out money and that is the closest place. So with no option of getting it tonight, I sat down and spent the evening chatting to this Australian guy who has spent the last month or so in the areas I want to see, so I was able to sort of plan out my trip a bit as up until now I had no idea where I was off to next. I then went on Skype for a bit, and watched a couple of things on my laptop (one of the benefits of being reunited with my big bag) and then went to bed, where I couldn’t sleep due to my pretty shitty predicament, hopefully all will be sorted in the morning.

Day 117 – Saturday 19th May

Phew, managed to sort everything out today! After getting up at around 11, I spent an age trying to ask the staff what the hell I should do and when buses went past, but as usual they couldn’t understand a fucking thing I wanted. So I eventually worked out that the bus I got the other day to Baishuitai should go past this guest house and on to the one where I left my bag. And as I knew that it normally arrived at 1:30 at the other guest house, I went and stood on the road at 12:30 and waited for it to come past. And thank God, my plan paid off and it came past at around quarter to 1, and the driver agreed to take me for only £2, I was now down to £7 with the next bus to Lijiang costing between 4-5 depending on if I was lucky or not, and the need for a bit of food on the way. So, I arrived at the guest house and was reunited with my bag, and for the first time in a week I had both my bags with me which was a relief! All I then had to do was sit back and relax and wait for my bus to Lijiang. I had 2 options, the first was to book it through this guest house which would cost me £5 or, a guest house further down the road does one for 4 but it only leaves if there are enough people. After eating, and not paying I decided to take the risk and missed the £5 one and wait on the road for the cheaper one to go past. And as with the rest of the day, all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place and the bus came and I flagged it down and it did only cost me £4, so I was on my way to Lijiang with only £2 left! So all had gone well, in the last week I had seen a completely different side to China, I’d done the tiger leaping gorge trek, seen the Himalayas, seen some limestone lakes and also been to Shangri-La, and hadn’t run out of money. There were obviously a few moments where I didn’t think I could say that, but sitting on the bus I felt fucking good. After the 3 hour drive I made it to Lijiang, and made my way back to the hostel we had stayed at the week earlier, luckily the woman didn’t recognise me (as I mentioned we left on bad terms with a massive row) so she wasn’t a bitch. And after getting to a cash machine and withdrawing a lot more that I usually would (for obvious reasons) I was able to completely relax, pay for my room and book my bus ticket to my next stop, unfortunately it leaves at 7:50 tomorrow morning, but I guess you can’t have it all. I then went back to a restaurant I had eaten at the week before, and it felt good to be here knowing my way around abit (as the place is a bit of a maze of old cobbled streets). I had some food there, did some washing at the hostel, and here I am updating the blog. I’ve put up a load of photos, all of the ones of mountains are taken whilst on the trek, and there are also some of the limestone terraces. Sorry for the lack of updates in the past week, but I’ve been without internet or laptop, so I had no choice. Sorry to pile such a big blog entry on you guys, it should all be back to normal from here on in.

Posted by travellingjoe 06:55 Archived in China Comments (3)

sorry for the wait

Hey guys, currently out in the middle of nowhere trekking, my bag with my diary is a 5 hour trek away from where I am, long story short I meant to get on a bus back but then ended up in shangrila (75km away) with no bag and barely any money. So in a couple of days I should have it all back and be able to update everything.

Posted by travellingjoe 05:32 Archived in China Comments (0)

Off to Kunming

Day 108 – Thursday 10th May

Got up nice and early this morning to get going to see the giant Buddha (the world’s tallest Buddha statue) located about 2 hours away from Chengdu. Unfortunately, we got to the station late and missed our train, so the early wake up was for nothing! As we were at the station, we bought our tickets to Kunming, we will be leaving on the 12th on a 20 hour train. So we retreated back to the hotel in defeat, and decided to not waste the day and go and see a temple which on the map didn’t look that far away. Unfortunately, due to a combination of shit directions, an absolutely useless map and Chengdu being a maze, we spent a good 3 hours walking around trying to find the bloody thing to no avail! Brilliant! So once again, we came back to the hotel in defeat, having wasted the entire day. I then looked up what the night life situation was in Chengdu and there are a ton of clubs around and not too far away from the hostel. So after pissing around playing shuffle board for a bit, Me, Greg and Sylvan got going. I’m sure you all know where this is going… after searching for ages and getting sent in every different direction possible (you guessed it) we couldn’t find any of the clubs. Fucking Chengdu, I give up! So after a good 2-3 hours of looking we came back to the hostel and had a couple more beers and listened to some music then went to bed.

Day 109 – Friday 11th May

So we gave the giant Buddha another go today. After leaving the hostel on time, and getting to the station with enough time to buy our tickets we made it on the train, woohoo. After a 2 and a half hour train journey, we got off and on to a 1 hour bus and then on to another 30 minute bus, and eventually made it to the place by around 5-5:30ish. Then we went to see the Buddha and it was fucking giant (unsurprisingly) but seriously impressive. His head is probably bigger than any statue I’ve ever seen before (his ears are 7m long!). Standing at the top of it and looking down is crazy and standing at the bottom is also just as impressive. Can’t really convey how big it was but it was huge! Unfortunately sue to our late arrival and the fact that the park closes at 7, we had to leave pretty much as soon as we arrived. We decided not to piss about with the whole 2 buses and train effort and instead pay a bit more and get a bus all the way back to Chengdu. We made it to the bus station by around 8 and it was already closed! This meant 2 things; 1, we couldn’t get a bus all the way home and 2, we couldn’t get a bus to the train station (which is a about an hour away). All the taxi drivers knew this and we got offered some of the most outrageous prices as they knew we didn’t have a choice. After asking millions of them, we managed to find a hotel which would call us a taxi and wouldn’t cost too much. The big problem now was the fact that our train was in 45 minutes and the train station is about an hour away. Luckily we had a complete lunatic of a driver who drove super fast whilst speaking on 2 phones at once and changing the music, incredible! So we made it to the station and our train was delayed by about an hour anyway, so we bought our tickets and sat and waited, whilst there was a massive storm going on outside. Never seen so much lightning in my life! The train didn’t make it back to Chengdu until about 1am and we didn’t make it back to the hostel until 30 minutes after that. So, after leaving at midday and only getting to see the Buddha for about an hour max, we spent a good 12 hours travelling there and back! So we spent a couple of hours just chilling out in the hostel, got to get up early again tomorrow for the nightmare train to Kunming.

Day 110 – Saturday 12th May

On the road again! After an early wake up, I packed up all my stuff, had a shower and got going. Not before Mr panda gave us a hug and said he’s miss us (weird considering we were only there a few days and barely spoke to him). I think he wants us to write a good review for him to lonely planet, which I will as it’s an awesome place and probably really hard to get started as there is so much competition, and he gave us lots of free beer and only charged us £1 a night. So we got on the train, and I sat down and started to read, managed to read a whole book pretty quickly as there was nothing else to do, and Me and Greg weren’t sitting near each other. I then spent a couple of hours looking out the window at the incredible scenery, tons of amazing waterfall, huge mountains with beautiful paddy fields and other cool stuff. After a little sleep, we went to eat in the restaurant car in order to reserve a place for the night. After paying an extortionate amount for pretty shit food, we sat down to watch a film. Then this complete asshole of a conductor comes and asks us for ‘money! Money!’ the only word every Chinese person knows! Despite buying 4 beers and the shit food, we’d obviously overstayed our welcome (we’d only been there about 20 minutes and had barely finished our food). The guy was just a complete fucking dick, and all the other staff were just laughing, it was obviously just a fun joke for him to wind up the white people. So after he wouldn’t stop shouting money and pointing for us to go, we eventually left (despite the fact that the entire restaurant car was empty). So we put down my big bag in between carriages and sat on that to finish the rest of the film before going to bed.

Posted by travellingjoe 23:24 Archived in China Comments (2)

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