A Travellerspoint blog

Beijing 2008

The Olympics, crowds and then where did all the people go?

overcast 28 °C
View Guyana, China, Mongolia and Russia on gt248's travel map.

Hey

Again we failed to find INTERNET in a major city so here is Beijing but a little late.

We ended up getting to Beijing by bus as the train was full. Pleasant enough journey, but then we had to get ourselves across town. The Olympic helpers, although they didn't really speak much english found us a taxi that took us to the subway. After much confusion we ended up with a ticket, why the need for the confusion I'll never know as all tickets no matter how far you were going were two Yuan. But never mind we made it to Gaobaidian the village we were staying in with our family. However we had no directions and no idea where we were going. Thankfully the friendly transport policeman found us and took us to his office where he called Ivy and she came to show us to our family. The house was ok, I think they had done it up expecting lots of olympic guests, but as far as we could tell we were the first ones they had had. Many people had pulled out as the hotel prices had dropped after lots of people struggled to get visas so couldn't go to china.

Our first morning in Beijing didn't go as planned. While attempting to ask for a laundrette the lady decided it would be better if we washed our clothes at her house (all this by sign language as she spoke no english). So the first two hours were spent hand washing our clothes (and in Brendas case dying her new top red).

We finally escaped and made it to Tiananmen square which is olympic mad

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and packed. We decided to go on Olympic Team visiting day, and had we seen anything other than chinese weighlifters we may have spotted someone we knew but never mind. The Forbidden City (across the road) was also packed but we wandered round with the GPS triggered audio guide, I think its all been upgraded since I was there many years ago. It was as I remembered it, but there were some good hats around.

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In the evening we found a street which was packed (like the rest of Beijing) but all the shops were empty, it was really strange and rather than eating in the only occupied shop (20USD beijing duck) we found a side street with prices more to our liking.

We then went to see an Acrobatics show. It was great. So many people on one bike and guys bending and flying around all over the place. It was however the first place we've been to that banned photography, probably to make you buy the program afterwards which I did. Then promptly lost it as the little woman we were staying with thought it was for her and ran off with it. Later that evening Brenda spotted it so I decided to steal it back (not very nice I know but I had no way of getting anotherone). However my career in stealing stuff probably would be short as I thudded across the house in my flipflops (thankfully everyone was asleep or out).

The second day it was raining very hard (several roads flooded if you saw the 50K walk you'll know what I mean), but we were running out of time and decided to head to the wall anyway. 4 hours of subway, buses and a taxi and we made it to Simatai, which is 120 km north of Beijing. It also happened to be dry. We were a little confused as it was empty, after the crowds of Beijing we were expecting to see someone else there, but we walked to the cable car, rode that for 30 minutes, got the train up and walked the final section without seeing anyone. There were lots of "farmers" who became our guides, I decided to walk the final section to the wall as fast as I could to lose him, but despite sounding like he was going to collapse he kept up (I must have had full fat coke before running up). He then lead us from watch tower 8 to 16. It was a tad steep in places and you couldn't go beyond 16 as it was too dangerous. Surprisingly we saw a couple of other people up there too, but no where near as many as we had seen on the TV a couple of days before. It was a little misty though

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You may notice from our clothes that we were once again in T-shirts and shorts and it was hot again.

Our final day in Beijing started as ever with breakfast. Our little lady was trying everything for us, including poisoning Brenda with peanuts. Even showing her the "I'm allergic to peanuts" chinese in my book made her smile with delight. The dumplings were pretty good, but the random stuff covered it what could be blood and odd meat that looked like dog food didn't go down so well.

We rushed around, sent stuff home, despite what the ,lonely planet says the post office was really helpful, having made space in my bag I then bought some new jumpers for Mongolia. No old markets it all seemed very new, but you had to haggle hard, they started at stupid prices for T-shirts like 600yuan and if you stuck to it you could get them down to 30. It was also olympic visiting day here too and loads of people in sports kit were walking round. I think i hit the Olympic official from Ethiopia with my bag, oops.

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We also got into the spirit of the olympics

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We headed back to our village for lunch, ordered what we wanted with no english being spoken and then made complete idiots of ourselves by throwing the noodles into the pot of boiling water as they came. How were we meant to know you were supposed to stretch them first.

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Finally we got to see the olympic venues. We walked past the birds nest, pool and onto the hockey site.
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We saw two matches, Argentina Germany didn't draw in many supporters which was a shame, and I managed to support the losers!! Then time to whip out my tasteful orange shirt to support Holland. An inspired purchase from the wall.

It was a good game, lots of cheering for both sides and Holland won.

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The medal ceremony
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We then headed home, it took ages, the problem of staying out of the centre of Beijing. We we home by 12 and up at 5 for the train.

We were on train K23 to UlaanBaatar it was the smartest train yet. There were TVs and everything (but the films were dubbed into french). ue to lack of sleep I spent much of the 30 hours sleeping, or watching the world go by. But will continue mongolia shortly.

Posted by gt248 00:50 Archived in China Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Datong

Buddhas galore

all seasons in one day 26 °C

While we have access to the internet thought I'd update you all again.

Today we headed off to the Hanging Monastery in the morning. Built originally 100 metres off the ground, but is now only 50m due to the build up of silt from the river. It was built to try and stop the flooding (I think the Dam round the corner solved that) and I guess is fairly impressive as it is clinging to the edge of the cliff, but I have seen a lot of temples in the last few days and am templed out.

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Then after lunch headed back to Datong (the caves are 65km south of here) to go to the Yungang caves. The caves were carved into the rock each containing several buddhas, the really impressive one was 14m high, but you couldn't take pictures of it so heres us with another one:

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The outside of the caves

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And inside on of the other caves

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All in all two good days in Datong, but that is more than enough time as there is little else to do. So we now have bus tickets and will be heading to Beijing tomorrow. That marks the end of sorting travel out for ourselves as we then are getting the train to moscow organised by Russia Experience. Travel through China has been a lot easier than I expected. The Lonely Planet scared us a little saying it would be hard to get train tickets and even harder to do it yourself at the station but we seem to have coped well (or been really lucky) as we have got the trains or buses we wanted. The people have been really friendly and helpful and even the cows gut was ok. Hope Beijing and our homestay is ok, but think we'll have to go jumper shopping as Its getting colder and I guess Russia and Mongolia will be colder (good excuse to buy an olympic jumper or two if they have any left).

Right will stop blabbering and go get some food. Will try and find a union jack to wave at the hockey finals so you can spot me.

Gem

Posted by gt248 03:35 Archived in China Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

One week so many walled cities and its got cold(er)

Go GB Go

semi-overcast 26 °C

P1010875.jpgEmail hasn't been great for the last week so there is a lot to write this time and a whole lot of pictures.

I left off in Wuhan so thats where I'll start:

Wuhan

After watching the opening to the games on tv and Brenda had watched hours of build up, which means she can sing along with the songs and tell me who all the helpers are, Brenda was felling much better and we headed out to see the now named (by me) oven city. We decided to go and see the Yellow Crane tower which was on the otherside of the river to our hotel, but armed with the lonely planet which told us bus number 1 would get us there we melted our way to the bus stop. What luck bus number one stopped there and within seconds one came along. Off we went only instead of turning to cross the river we headed in land, and the map on the wall didn't look like it went any where near where we wanted to go. So swearing about the LP we managed to get a taxi to stop for us (elsewhere when we tried they just shake their heads and drive off) and we made it there. It turned out to be a park full of towers and temples and stupas so we walked round it and even stumbled on a display of bell ringing in the falling plum blossom temple. I forgot to shrink down photos of here so you'll just have to imagine what it looks like.

We braved hard sleeper to Xi'an and we melted for it. No AC. We had the window open which cooled it a bit, but when I woke up in the morning was slightly covered in coal dust. The morning brought slightly cooler temperatures and a tout from the Ludao Binguan guest house. We followed him and dumped our stuff before heading out to explore the city.

Xi'an

It was a busy day. We started off by getting the correct bus to the south gate of the walls and walking up. We decided to hire bikes and couple cycle round the entire old city walls in about an hour.

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Cycling the walls

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The streets were as manic as everywhere else in China and the polic really didn't seem to be doing much.
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We then went up the bell tower before getting a bus out of town to attempt to see the city museum. It was a very busy bus and worringly we were stood next to the driver initially who seemed to spend more time looking at us than the road. But as time went on we worked our way down the bus when two old ladies decided Brenda needed to sit so squashed together to give her room and looked so happy about it. I was gradually pushed down the bus and thankfully was still taller than most of the Chinese on the bus so could signal when to get off. By the time we made it to the museum (I took a rather long cut) it was closed so we walked to the Big wild goose pagoda instead.

There was a massive park in front and there was a fountain display and music which was pretty good. Also a million people so we didn't get close to the Pagoda, which looked a little wonky to me.

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We then had an awesome dinner, picture pointing and I recognised some symbols so we knew what meat to expect
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The second day in Xi'an we had booked a tour to see the warriors, where we were joined by Henrick (really sorry if thats not how its spelt). The tour didn't start in our hostel so we got to watch China Germany in the hockey while the people from the other hostel had their breakfast (why we had to be there before they were up I'll never know). Anyway we then hit the road and stopped at a 6000 year old village called Banpo where we saw the foundations of the old town and some pots they buried children in. It was discovered by a farmer digging the fields

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Then on to a factory where they make warriors before we got to see the real things. There are 3 pits. Pit 1 being the biggest. There the infantry were discovered. I don't know why but I thought they had been unearthed as whole soldiers but it turns out thats not the case and they have been put back together. I guess I had expected the entire pit to be full of warriors but it wasn't so I was a little disappointed but it was still an amazing site:

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And that oh so rare warrior
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Pit 1 had the officers in and pit 2 hadn't been opened. It is feared that removing the dirt from on top will damage the warriors underneath. Small areas have been excavated so they know what is there such as horses, archers or generals etc
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In the evening we went to dinner with Henrick and his new friend Craig (a Local guy he met while buying a train ticket). So we headed to a restaurant of Craigs choice which was great fun. You get to cook your own food it pots of boiling water on the table. We did however leave the choice of food to Craig too. Now I am the fussiest eater (bar Carolyn maybe) and looked somewhat horrified when Cows gut and bone marrow turned up. And we did take lots of pictures much to Craigs embarassment. The gut was ok. And i put off the bone marrow for quite a long time but they made me eat it. It was horrible, slimy and got in your teeth. Henrick has a photo of me eating it and I am sure I am really red and look ill, so here are the foods in question and them being eaten:
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Cows Gut
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We had meant to buy a train ticket to Pingyao for the 13th but bought one for the 12th instead. So rather than spend the night in the mountains we had to do it as a day trip which as it turns out was a good thing (for Brenda).

Early in the morning we got the bus to Huashan a holy mountain which you could either walk up or take the cable car. We decided to take the cable car up and walk down. It wasn't warm and was a bit cloudy when we set off (Brenda panicing because the cable car was a long way above the ground and although Austrian built was maintained by the chinese) but we made it to the top in one piece.

It was packed and after having my picture taken with several guys we headed to North Peak. The steps were small and a little uneven and to get right to the top involved a bit of a climb so I went alone, befriended another guy which meant I had to have my picture taken with him and all his mates (I feel so sorry for them they will be showing their friends photos of some crazy haired girl how looked slightly scared in all the photos!!). But at least he took a picture of me for me so here is north peak:
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The views were pretty good
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After A while we decided to find the steps to go down. They were pretty steep and Brenda panicked and decided there was no way she was walking down and would rather take the cable car. So leaving her in the restaurant I headed off to explore. By this point the rain had started falling and you couldn't really see alot
Me about to go
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I walked through the rain uphill for about and hour and a half and found centre peak, walking with old guys carrying crates of water for the stalls at the top, a gas cylinder and two old ladies with crutches, but I didn't see the point in going any further, cuase I couldn't see, so headed back. The clouds did part a little bit though and it was like being on top of the world
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On the way up I had seen a really steep set of stairs with a steep drop on either side
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So I had been waiting to find these steps on the way down. It was only when I got to the bottom I realised that I had walked them because the cloud was so thick I couldn't really see anything.
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There were some useful signs though
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Anyway we survived the cable car back down, got the bus back to Xi'an and cought the overnight train to Pingyao.

Pingyao

Its a really old walled city. While Xi'an has lots many of its traditional buildings and built sky scrapers Pingyao is much the same as its always been. And is the cause of my obsession with roofs. We stayed at the Harmony Guesthouse where we had a traditional room with a matress on a stone floor which could be heated in winter. It was super comfy (but Brenda who is slowly falling apart struggled to sleep the first night).

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The courtyard by our room
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We headed out to explore on bikes. Unlike Xi'an you can't cycle on the walls so we cycled round them, stumbled on another fountain display (no wonder china needs so much energy) and stopped for lunch at a small fan dian and had the traditional pingyao noodles - big hoops you dunk in some kinda spicy sauce.

The wall
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Lunch
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It was a lovely city, as I had imagined China, slightly dusty and grey (or brown) and unchanged throughout history
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The second day Mr Deng owner of the guesthouse took us on a tour of the city, he explained a lot to us which helped us understand the history better.

For example in the city god temple students lock little red disks to chains to make sure the Gods look favourably on them during exam time (but no Pingyao student has ever finished as Number 1)
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The city God temple
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The roofs of the temples are coloured so the Gods know which buildings are for them and which are owned by people (plain roofs). Either way the decoration underneath is beautiful. Brenda quite liked the statues representing hell and what happens to you if you are bad:
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His tour was great and as well as a couple of temples we went to the courthouse where I finally found a prison:
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Other pictures from around the city:
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I can't rate his tour highly enough it was fantastic. Afterwards I even braved a foot massage. Was scared they would dislocate my toes but it was very relaxing. We even got to watch china win some more gold medals - is there anything other than weighlifting going on??

We then decided to risk the mountains again and got the bus to Taiyuan then to Wutai Shan. A buddist area with 5 peaks and a whole heamp of temples. It was a long day on the bus and we didn't feel like trudging round town so stopped at the hotel the bus dropped us at (the first grumpy chinese we have encountered). It wasn't great but was cheap enough. We found a small restaurant and worked our magic, within seconds of us sitting down it was full of chinese drawn in by two strange people in the window. No english and I suspect we are outnumbered 10000:1 (chinese to non chinese) no in the restaurant but in the town, which means we have had our pictures taken with loads of people (wish we had charged we'd be rich) andsaid hello hundreds of times.

We spent the day looking at temples, which were pretty and colourful, but in the end we grew to resent paying to enter them as you had to pay to enter the area too. It was also cold, so much so that I had to dig out my jumper which I had been wondering whether it had been worth bringing it.
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On of the temples was 1150 steps up (yes I am that sad and counted), but the views we good.
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At one temple though we met a monk with tooth ache who showed us his room, small place at the back of the temple. He wanted to talk english and made us coffee - according to Brenda it was really sweet, but I still didn't like it. He had been there 22 years and was a Tibetian Monk, and he decided to teach us some chanting, and gave us some beads and a photo of his teacher. He was pretty interesting. But we got templeout shortly afterwards and headed to Datong on the early morning bus.

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Datong (bigsame) apparently won't win any beauty prizes and there isn't much reason to come here (LP). But I wanted to see the wall and there are some caves and a hanging monastry, so we have a day and a half. The bus from Wutai Shan went through some stunning scenery, but was a tad bumpy and windy. But I must add that China is a lot cleaner than I thought it was going to be and considering the crap (literally) thrown out the window on the bus journey there must be some hard working road cleaners out there keeping things looking nice.

We arrived and armed with a bus number decided to find the oldest section of the great wall. We found 3 buses with the right number but none had a driver. At this point we met simon who offered to take us in a taxi. Ok we thought and off we went. He spoke really good english and was telling us stories on the way.

This bit of the wall was built in 450BC and parts have been destroyed by the locals who wated the clay for their houss, but you can still see the control towers and parts of the wall:

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From the wall (which we would never have found had we found a bus with a driver) we were taken to a fort built in 800s, and most recently used by the Japanese in WW2. Again it has been used to build the houses in the town (where we talked to some of the kids who were as shy as ever)
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On the way back to Datong simon won us over by saying my chinese was good, so we agreed to pay a bit more and go and see the wall around Datong (we've now seen more walls that I can remember). This one wasn't in great shape although the government are planning to rebuild it starting this year (to attract tourists)

To get to it we had to jump over a bit of wall to avoid the locked gate

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But at the top was a swan tower and we could walk along the wall to see the roof of the city.

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So if anyone stumbles on this and is planning on coming to Datong use simon as a tour guide he was great and charged us 150 yuan for the trip which lasted all afternoon. If you want I have his phone number and will email it to you.

Ok think thats it. There are probably photos I have uploaded but not mentioned but this seems to have gone on a bit.

We are of to the caves tomorrow and then on to Beijing to go wave a few flags andsee the hockey. Its been a little tricky to follow anyone other than China but the brief summary showed we now have 11 gold medals :)

Ok off now so will be in touch in Beijing

Love Gemma

Posted by gt248 05:22 Archived in China Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Yangtze River Cruise

On a 4* chinese boat

overcast 40 °C

Found a computer that works, so here are some photos:

Ok so where was I? We left Guilin on an overnight train. We decided to splash out and travel soft sleeper (1st class). 4 People with bunk beds but actually it was pretty comfortable and I slept really well on the top bunk. Initially I had been a tad scared that the small metal rod wouldn't stop me from falling out but it did - either that or we didn't break suddenly overnight. There were two chinese ladies with us, but they spent most of the journey in the cabin next door with their mates, leaving us to enjoy our pot noodles in peace.

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We were collected in Chongqing the following morning and left our bags with the travel agency and went exploring. The city was massive with loads of sky scrapers and felt very new and clean.

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We then decided to go over the river on a cable car. Now it was a wee bit foggy and you couldn't really see the other side unless you squinted.

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But into the mist we went and had the most expensive cokes yet (about 1GBP) and then risked the public toilets. I had heard horror stories about them and until now we had stuck to using hotels or restaurants. They we however pretty good with roses on the walls, soap and hand dryer and should we have felt the need to wash our hair a hair dryer!

Anyway that evening we got a Chinese tourist boat which would takes us down the Yangtze for the next three night.

This is our boat
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On the top deck

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We opted for the Chinese tourist boat rather than the western one cause we thought the western ones looked very tacky with lots of lights and they requested a ball dress for the evening (well the one we read about did). CITS who are a chinese travel agency booked it all for us (forgot to update their prices so we saved 50yuan) and also gave us a guide. He spoke a little English, such as; this way, ticket and key. But did get us onto the boat. We shared a rather small, somewhat grubby cabin with two Germans who seemed very nice. We had stocked up on many pot noodles before departing a we were told the food wasn't good and a tad over priced. But it turns out for the first time we paid locals prices rather than bumped up western prices, so in actual fact food and drink was pretty cheap.

There were several other westerners on the cruise who we got talking to while cruising down the river.
I said I wouldn't include this picture but I am mean and such a good photographer I thought it only fair
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The first day we spent on the boat while some of the chinese went off to see a temple. We were told it wouldn't be interesting to us and when we saw the steps going up to it were thankful to be staying on the boat. It was very misty/foggy/polluted

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Abandoned town
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and you couldn't really see the shore to well so thankfully the first day didn't go through any gorges but went past lots of abandoned towns and new citys to take the inhabitants of the abandoned towns once the river reaches its full height of 175 meters (which may be 175 m deep or 175 m above sea level, I didn't really understand when people were explaing but I think its the latter). That day we had a rather good dinner on the boat before going on to see the lesser 3 gorges and the mini 3 gorges on the second day.

A new town
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How high the water is going to go once the dam is fully flooded (The white sign on the building)
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Some Gorge photos from days 2 and 3
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We all got into slightly smaller boats for the lesser 3 gorges which were as stunning as the1st gorge we went through on the trip. The water was green in comparison to the Yangtze (brown and according to the guide book will be the biggest toilet in the world once flooded to its full height - hence we avoided the fish) and we saw a coffin in a cave 2000 years old and 300ft above the river.

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Coffin high above the river
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Oh and we got to follow a flag, true chinese style at last :)
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We then transferred into smaller sanpans which unfortunately were covered so we couldn't really see the mini 3 gorges. Thankfully due to the big tour group on our boat there was an English speaking guide - Sarah - who could explain everything to us.

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She accompanied us to Dachang town (we got tickets included in our tour while none of the other westerners did so it was just us with a guide). This town used to be several meters lower and so they took it apart and rebuilt it higher up to save it from the flooding. But according to the ticket it gets more beautiful every year, now I guess this is because they are finishing it.
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And a guy busy at work moving the village
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We were about to get back to the boat when our Chinese guide thrust two tickets in our hand and waved up some steps and said bus. So up we went and got on the bus. No guide in sight. At the top of the hill everyone got out and dissappeared. AHH where were we going? What time are we meant to be back? So many questions no one to ask. We hung around and another bus arrived with someone who spoke a little English. He pointed to a building and said second floor. Off we went and found a show, I think it was a Chinese Opera about the seasons and flooding of the river. We spotted a family I recognised from the boat and followed them back to a bus and thankfully onto the boat.

The show
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The final day we went to look at a dead poets house, watch another show and have a go at dragon boat racing. Pretty good, but if I did it again wouldn't opt for this tour.
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Me and the dead poet
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Brenda at his house
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Dragon Boating

The boat had an upstairs which had a bar and viewing deck. As well as viewing the stunning scenery (wait till you see the pictures) it gave us the chance to observe the Chinese.

People wander around in the PJs from mid afternoon and the latest fashion appears to be to wear ones shirt rolled up to reveal the belly (well for the men), a particularly good look for the more pot bellied. Also the babies don't wear nappies and on several occasions we have spotted babies peeing in the street. On the boat they also seemed to go where ever and over what ever was near when they needed to go. From that point on I didn't take my shoes off, who knows what was on the floor.
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This is as close as we got to the Dam
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The boat docked and we got a bus to Yichang, I think this is the dam that has destroyed many towns but made the river more navigable. We had initially planned to get the train to Xian, but it turns out we arrived in town after it had gone so got a bus to Wuhan, another town down the river. Brenda spent the 5 hours teaching a little girl English, she picked it up very quickly. She was only 3. We arrived in Wuhan and the chinese hotel (its the same price as the Flowers youth hostel, but we get a western toilet two single beds (not bunk beds) and a TV. We are staying for 2 nights so we can watch the start of the Olympics tonight. Olympic TV has a count down going and its all quite exciting. Anyway its really hot here, no one speaks english, no english menus so guide books and my chinese. Not that I am particularly patient at the moment as I have the Germans cold. Brilliant. However the fact it must be 40 degC in the shade means I'll sweat it out fast especially as I only seem to be able to pick food with more chilli than meat !

Off to go find Brenda who I left in the hotel recovering from the heat, she was feeling faint either from the heat outside or the heat of the food. Brenda is fine we are suspecting a little peanut oil may have been used in the cooking. We are now in Xian after surviving a night on a hard slleper bed. Will update you more tomorrow evening after the warriors. Hoping CCTV are showing the GB hockey match......

Till then enjoy the opening of the games, from the build up I am expecting great things

Posted by gt248 01:52 Archived in China Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Dragons Backbone Rice Terraces

A break from the heat

overcast 33 °C

Armed with a list of places where we needed to change buses provided by a lady we met in Yangshou we headed up north to the rice terraces at Longji.

The bus station in Guilin was as expected busy and we had no idea what bus we wanted only that we wanted to get off in HePing. In the guide book it said people will rush to you and help you get on the correct bus for a small fee, and sure enough within seconds of setting foot in the bus station a lady came running over and asked which bus we wanted then put us on it and charged us 5yuan each (about 30p). We sat and watched films in chinese all the way, the chinese version of the sound of music and a film about making the best bra in the world (at least that was my understanding of it). 2 Hours later we got off and haggled with a taxi guy for the rest of the journey (20 yuan for 23km although at the time of haggling we didn't know how far we were going). We arrived in Da Zhai, we were told this was far less touristy that the more popular PingAn. We were mobbed with ladies offering to carry our bags to the hotel and hotel owners trying to get us to stay with them. So Brenda picked the smallest oldest lady there and some woman grabbed my bag so I had no choice and we were off.
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We did feel a little bad about them carrying our bags, but thankfully we had left our big bags in Guilin. On the way up we stopped for luch at some guys house in the main village of DaZhai. It was the worst food yet. We had asked for pork and veg, but I have no idea what it was. Maybe tendon but what ever it was it was crunchy but rubbery and well I don't know he seemd so happy we tried to eat it. It was a lovely house, but I wouldn't eat there again:
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After feeling so full we headed uphill beyond the village of Tian tou and our guesthouse.

The ladies headed off to find more bags to carry and we settled in
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Now one thing I have to mention is that there is a serious lack of maps. In Yangshou we cycled with a bit of paper that showed one road (and I don't think we ever found that one). In Longji rice terraces we had the map on the back of the ticket, it had the villages marked and some paths but not all. It also had three view points marked. Number 1, Number 2 and Number 3. The locals are minority tribes who don't speak a lot of english but point at random hills and say "number 1" but we weren't exactly sure where they were. But in the afternoon we climbed higher and possibly found number 1. If we didn't it didn't really matter as the view was pretty good
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Although the views were pretty good all over the place. Rice terraces have been cut into the side of the hills, construction started in the 1200's and finished 600 years later. Its very impressive

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and there are no roads so everything is carried by little old ladies or horse
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In the evening we were a tad worried about the food, but it turned out to be great. And while Brenda used the internet I talked to a chinese couple and the kid from the hotel. Not really sure we understood each other and some how I won the game which meant the little girl had to sing. Her rendition of twinkle twinkle little star was far batter than me counting in chinese.

The view from our hotel wasn't bad either

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Other people seem to come in later afternoon and leave early the following morning, but we decided to have a full day to explore. We walked to number 2 in the morning. This was the most dubious point as there was no marker to say we had reached it, we kept trying to go higher but the paths finished and ended up in the muddly paddy fields.

It was a steep climb back to the hotel and Brenda looked for an easier option
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For lunch we had bamboo rice. It took a while to cook in the open fire
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and despite the unknown meat was pretty good
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In the afternoon we walked an entire circuit of the paddy fields. From number 1 to number 3 back to the main village and home. The map showed a path but didn't indicate that it would take 5 hours and it would all be up and down and at one point we ended up walking through the river

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We stopped for a coke before climbing to number 3. Apparently I am not used to drinking full fat coke as i sprinted up to the top of the peak, much to Brendas annoyance. Although the massive down hill bit nearly killed me as the sugar had worn off

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The high peak behind Brenda is where we'd just been. We were very tired after the walk and I think the lady at the hotel was beginning to get worried as to where we were. She'd sent us off with her phone number so that if we got lost she would come and find us. All good if we'd found a phone.

But finally people understood my chinese. My travel journal has pictures of everyone on it and I was explaining who you all are and what I do for a living and they understood me. They picked Warren out and kept saying piao liang (beautiful). I guess I paid attention in those lessons.

Got the bus back to Guilin with remarkable ease. The little ladies picked up the bags and marched us down the hill. At the bottom was a bus which left straight away. When we got back to HePing was another bus which took us back to Guilin. 2 hours to cover nearly 100km for 25 yuan.

We are in the flowers guesthouse again. People recommended here, but its expensive with really small rooms

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Tomorrow is our first train trip. we've been to the supermarket for supplies (some kinda pot noodle thing, I think its beef but I could well be wrong).

Will let you know how it goes as soon as I find another computer.

Cheers

Gem

Posted by gt248 03:19 Archived in China Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

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