Zhangjiajie to Yichang

Trip Start Aug 12, 2007
Trip End Sep 28, 2007

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Monday, August 27, 2007

27/8 Andrew

We are stuck in Zhang Jie Jia for one further day as we missed the only train to take us to Yichang.  It is annoying, as it is a bit of a nothing city that gets no western tourists.

Walking down the road i see a woman chatting with a guy on a motorbike with a live goose under her arm, the poor bird! We see a covered market and decide to have a look at whats on offer.  The fresh fruit and veg quickly gives way to the butchers section and it is dingy and dirty.  Live eels are being gutted in front of us and it stinks.  We make a break for it....

As Ive had a pretty bad stomach bug for days of  i decide that the only way to fix this is medication.  Simple enough, we consult the bible and antibiotics are recommended.  Armed with this and the chinese word for diarrohea we go to the local pharmary supermarket - it is literally the size of a supermarket with rows of check outs.  We are greeted by a young nurse (well shes in a uniform) who looks at our "recommended treatment".  She comes back with what looks like a jar of tiger balm and at this point we try to stress the antibiotic word which is listed in the bible.  Other curious nurses arrive on the scene to "help" or just to be nosey.  By now all other staff have now joined in as they are all very helpful or have nothing better to do.  When we have finally got the correct medication i am led over by a nurse who administers my first dose! 

Whatever happened to a bit of discretion for a guy whos got a really bad case of the runs, I think as i turn to wave goodbye the gaggle of 10 smiling nurses!  

Local entertainment is the obligitory line dancing in the town square; its funny seeing so many people so out of time!  The tia chi is a bit more honned.

We get an early night and I pray that my pills work as we have an 8 hr train journey tomorrow........


We are up bright and early to board the train.  The waiting room is chocca and we sit on our backpacks.  Then the train is announced and everyone dashes for the platform.  It is a mad rush and we somehow end up at the back of the queue, maybe its becuase were english and too polite!

Getting onto the train is a joke, everyone is crammed in with most people standing.  It is soooo hot and there is no room to breathe.  I cannot stop thinking that this journey is 8 hours and i am thinking that i value my sanity too much too stay on this train!  The train starts moving, we manage to get our backpacks stowed.  I see a sign with the carridge capacity of 120 persons.  A quick headcount reveals that we are only around 100 people over!  The next thing everyone is squeezing further to let through someone, no it cant be, a damn trolley service!  And then a food trolley and then a litter trolley - you must be kidding.......

Somehow we make it through the 8 hours not ending up in straight jackets but in Yaching, a large(ish) city on the Yangtze river.  We decide to splash out on a four star hotel, which sets us back 400 yuan (about 25 pounds).  To be honest some 3 stars are in better shape, but hey.

We go for food and battle with the chinese menu and get what turns out to be one of the best meals we've had the whole trip.  Drinks menu maybe needs some work - a choice between beer or milk!

We wander down to the river and have a look along a the the murky brown water.  The thames looks distinctly carribean in comparision.  Now we are treated to Yichangs finest ballroom dancing - the waltz to be precise!

We go to a bar called Oldstreet (something or other) and try a couple of cocktails (now that my drugs make me feel like a new man!).  We are treated to a panpipe rendition of the titanic song (the 2nd time weve heard it in a bar in china!) and then a live pianist takes over.  We leave pretty soon after intent on getting a massage back at the hotel.

When we finally find the massage floor we are greeted by an angry massridee (or whatever u call the guy who runs a massage place) who speaks no english and points to a price list in chinese.  We have no idea.  We get shown into one room after another and are undecided whether we want to go for it.  He gets more and more agitated.  We finally decide to go for it when he brings the price down for what, we still dont know!

We get our "treatments" it is actually an exended foot massage, quite vigourous on the pressure points and has both of us flinching at points.  I think they asked in chinese whether  it hurts?  To this we probably just nodded, so they carry on in the same vein!
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