Follow the Monkey King's Trail
Trip Start Nov 27, 2010
22Trip End Feb 12, 2011
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So any way left Changsha and decided it was time to hit the dusty road. Caught an eight hour train straight down to Guilin. Used a hard sleeper which was pretty comfortable, kinda like a six bed dorm. Just ate noodles, lazed around and watch the country side flow by. After a couple hours woke up to the Guangxi countryside which was surprisingly different to the Hunan countryside. Weird mountains and a different style of hay bails and everything greener than on the Hunan side. Ticket one way about 140 RMB.
Jumped off at Guilin whose traffic was even more physics defying than Changsha. Bought the return ticket and ate some pretty yummy western style steak which was surprisingly good although the Chinese food in China has been absolutely superb
Jumped onto a bus straight to Yangshou and cruised through a fantastically weird landscape during a full moon. Almost my birthday and it was already the present I always wanted. Pretty sure the Monkey King is in here somewhere.... Bus 15rmb and runs every 10 minutes from the train station.
Arrived in Yangshou about 10pm and all the mountains were lit up. Amazing!!! Wondered around and looked at a couple hotels. Just chose the one opposite the Pantera and Kung Fu Wonton shops for obvious reasons. Ate some expensive stuff, beer, heater, kinda hot shower and bed.... Hotel 60rmb for 2 double beds.
Ok, so make sure you book your ticket at least 24 hours in advance. The train travel comes in 2 types: seats and sleepers (also standing if your a complete weirdo). Do NOT under any circumstances book any type of seat unless it is a very short trip, your a broke arse backpacker or you have a masochistic streak a mile long!!. Read some other blogs about this and you'll find out why. Had a friend who did a 72 Hour trip this way and I believe he still suffers nightmares!!
There is NO federal booking system as it's handled by the provinces, therefore if you have to change trains expect at least a 24 hour stopover (I could be wrong as this is just info off the net). Although you can get trains to all provinces if it's on the same train line A.K.A Guilin to Beijing, no problem if you like 30 hour train trips.
When you get to your destination make sure you buy your return then as it's much easier that way and it won't mess up your travel plans. Also beware of travelling during Chinese holidays as it's a good chance you won't get a ticket at all!!
There's hot water on the trains for noodles and there is a thermos flask under the table which is the best way to go as you won't burn any one with steaming hot noodles. Food and drinks are available and are about 2rmb more expensive than at a shop, I noticed that most people take plentiful supplies on board with them. Also noticed food available at some of the rail stops in little carts so go for it but expect the usual push and shove to get it. They swap your Ticket for a key-card when your on board and this is so the rail stewardess know when to wake you to get off the train at your stop. Non-smoking in the sleepers but you can smoke in between the cars. Toilets were kinda clean and they do clean them during the trip.