'Heaven and Hell'....

Trip Start Sep 04, 2012
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Trip End Aug 02, 2013


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Flag of China  , Sichuan,
Monday, October 15, 2012

16 hours sat 'BOLT' upright, touching knees with the person infront of you whilst dodging spit-ridden floors and AWFUL loos won't be happenin again I can tell ya!!! We both felt like we needed to be IRONED when we got off that train!! Having said that the 'QVC style' sales pitches halfway through the journey kept the mind sane! Sleepers next time!! Simple as that!!! Chengdu next stop, home of China's national treasure, the giant panda. That wasn't until Wednesday though. We struggled our way to another cracker of a hostel, booked our next train tickets IMMEDIATELY ha ha, then spent the rest of the day and the following day having a mooch around. Nice place. More relaxed than the big-hitters of Beijing and Xi'an, the people seem friendly and the green man for road crossing seems to actually mean somet here!! However, there are MASSIVE numbers of electric bikes here.....the 'silent assassins'....some with no headlights and they're on pavements, roads, wrong way down roads.....everywhere!!! Watch out!! A can of Lynx deodorant costs more than we paid each for our room (£4.90!!!) so i'll have to smell from now on!! Saw Wenshu Temple on Tuesday - a Buddhist Temple that houses real life monks, then went to 'People's Park' for what we thought would be a nice relaxing stroll around. How wrong....but how good it was to be wrong!!! It was PARTY PARK!! The strangest mix of AWFUL-karaokeing, dodgem-riding, ballroom-dancing, pavement-painting, keyboard-playing, 80s music disco-dancing you have EVER seen!!! Everything was being BELTED OUT aswell so there were sound clashes everywhere!! Funny park!! The Chinese get right involved!
So, Wednesday was panda day. Got there early and it was basically like a small panda zoo. Quite a lot of pandas in different enclosures and getting there early paid off because they all rushed out to eat!! Brilliant.....they were good value, play-fighting and climbing trees. Infact, they're almost like humans in 'panda costumes' with some of their tendencies!! They have a breeding program there as numbers of pandas in the wild are dwindling and they seem to be lacking in maternal instinct. We watched a short film about pandas and it showed a mummy panda giving birth there at the centre. The pup was tiny and was squeaking and thrashing it's head about, the mother seemed confused and was pawing it like a cat would play with a mouse. After a few minutes the mother walked away from the pup and the park staff rushed into the cage and removed the pup in order to care for it. The pups are given human milk formula and looked after in a nursery and spend a few hours a day with their mums. The Chinese non-queueing system took effect when viewing the baby pandas, but that didn't take the shine off a decent morning!! A conversation with a nice Chinese lady taught us a bit about the language aswell. Kids are first taught Chinese words or 'Pinyin'. It is not until a bit later that they are taught the symbols, of which you need to know 3000 of them just to read a newspaper, and there are a whopping 9000 in total!!! Crazy, when you compare it to our 26 letters! Anyway, my day was well and truly ruined soon after, as Kala drubbed me at pool but there's no point even talkin about that!!! Salvaged only by fish n chips (beef and mashed totties for Kala) in an Irish pub with a Scottish couple, Laura and Michael, who we met in Beijing and again in Xi'an!! A welcome change!! Don't worry Sheena, Kala says your totties are still the best she has ever tasted!!
So, a couple more China observations...when you order a meal, your meat, veg and rice/noodles are on the menu as separate dishes. They bring out whatever is cooked first and you are just to start eating when they bring the first dish. In one restaurant we had a plate of broccoli for about 15 minutes before anything else was brought to us!!! I suppose it makes every meal a three courser!! Something else that we just can't get our heads around is babies and toddlers wearing crotchless pants with no nappies!! We have not had the pleasure of seeing this in practice but Laura and Michael said that on four or five occasions they have been in a subway station waiting for a train and a mother has held her baby over a BIN for it to have a number 2!! We have read that it is to cut down on disposable nappy waste but we can think of other ways! And imagine the draught when the wind picks up!!!
From Chengdu, we headed north again for a few days to a National Park called Jiuzhaigou, famed for its beautiful blue lakes, picturesque autumn foliage and enormous mountains!! It did not disappoint!!! The journey took us through the epicentre of the deadly Sichuan earthquake of 2008, that killed an estimated 68,000 people. The Chinese government have pumped 1 trillion Yuan into rebuilding the local towns and they seem to be taking shape. That said, remains of broken bridges and even a car under a boulder at one point still act as a harrowing reminder. So, Jiuzhaigou.....there was SHEER CARNAGE just to buy a ticket to get in (even guys in military outfits couldn't control the Chinese masses!)! There were buses within the park so you could get to see it all because it was huge and first we headed up the right fork to check out a route of smaller lakes. You couldn't walk 10 yards without seeing something beautiful. Lakes, waterfalls, nice......er......trees, this place was worth coming to and the camera was gettin hammered!! (Mostly by Kala, may I add....think thats why we've got some good 'uns this time!!)!! We walked back to the fork during the morning, then got the bus up to 'long lake'....possibly the park's most famous attraction!! Quite simply, STUNNING!!! Right there, there was 'a beautiful lake, picturesque autumn foliage and enormous mountains!!!'. Imagine heaven, then imagine you just nipped outside into the garden......that is what you'd see!! So back to the bus and then home. Now China are good at a lot of things.....gymnastics, synchronised diving, table tennis.....but when it comes to the 'get on the bus in the quickest time possible, flattening all in your path' event, they are WORLD BEATERS!!!!! Old ladies are the worst! People's faces being squashed against the bus, people falling over, shouting, screaming!! Aaaarrgh!! Just to get on the bus!! Mind you, it was imperative that they got on that particular bus, because the one after that was probably..............about 12 seconds away!!! JESUS!!!! JUST FECKIN WAIT IN LINE!!!
With not much else to do in Jiuzhaigou than the park itself, Saturday was.....read book outside.....cat meeowed.....read book inside! After a power cut and more terrible service from our hostel (worst yet) we boarded the bus the following morning for what should have been a 10 hour journey back to Chengdu. 13 HOURS later and with 'sleep dribble' on the left hand side of my t-shirt (I hope nobody saw me!!) we arrived back in Chengdu. Although we are struggling with the language we discovered that some words have universal meaning! As our bus driver slammed on his brakes to avoid hitting an oncoming truck, the whole bus shouted 'WHHHOOOOOAAAAAAAA'!!!
From here, Guilin - 26 hours train journey! Soft sleeper of course!!
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Comments

Laura and Michael on

Another baby bum siting to report but this time held over a drain.

paulandkala
paulandkala on

Oh dear!! It's funny you noticed Paul on the Hua Shan photo glued to the wall!! It made us laugh when we were looking back at the photos!!

Sheila G on

Oh Paul you had me in pleats laughing with this blog. You're nuts!!!

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