A Travellerspoint blog

June 2013

ZhangJiaJie

aka Zheh Zheh Zheh

sunny 30 °C

After check in, we discovered an awesome place for dinner that catered for our non-meat-eating friends - Evan and Mich. This was to become our local for the next few days. We rotated a very varied menu of dumplings, noodles or fried rice - they were all nom!

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Next morning was our big trip to Zhangjiajie National Park. YAHOO! We were all mega excited. Neil was waiting and hoping for his jaw to drop at the sights. And it was jawdropping. It was amazing. We didn't arrive til 12 noon, which actually turned out to be a bit better as the morning haze had lifted and the views were better. On our entrance to the park, we witnessed a young Chinese fellow holding a plastic bag full of snacks and goodies, being attacked by a pack of monkeys! They all stormed him and grabbed his bag and ran off. The poor fella nearly had a heart attack. Mental note. Do not carry any food in sight of the monkeys.

We started out by getting the cable car up to the top of the mountain to avoid the 3500 steps up. The cable car was EPIC.

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It was SO HIGH UP and pretty scary for Michelle who, as I may have mentioned, is terrified of heights. (JUNCTION THEORY LISA WILL YOU SHUT UP!) ;)

It was amazing. I've never seen such awesome rocks in my life, and here we were just cable-carring it up between them. It was fantastic - really impressive. These stacks are apparently formed from years of erosion - mostly ice expanding and cracking during the winter. Once we got out of the cable car, the two lads power walked ahead of us as they only had 1 day in the park and wanted to squeeze in as much as possible, whereas we had two or 3 days if we wanted. Good thing too, there was so much awesomeness to see, it took us ages to get around. There were tons of monkeys on patrol on route. We witnessed another girl getting her corn on the cob yanked out of her hand - Jungle Book Stylee. We were considering telling her about the monkeys when we passed her but then we thought she'd be ok. 1 minute later, her COTC was gone. :D

The park had never-ending Jaw-dropping scenery, with each rock more impressive than the last.

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It was a truly awesome and unique landscape. It was very packed with tourists though. One gentleman farted in my direction! I dunno who looked more surprised - me or him! :D I stupidly thought taking the steps back down again would be a fun idea and a bit quieter.. Once again - my bad! It took ages and was pretty harsh on the knees and poor Michelle's feet, who had now developed a whopper heat rash on her legs. EEK! We hotfooted (boom boom) it back to the hostel to stick her in a bucket of cold water.

We bid farewell to the two lads who were off in different directions. We were sorry to see them go as we had a great laugh altogether with them.

Next day, Chelle's legs were in bits, but like a trooper, she decided to go back to the park. We stuck her in a long flowy skirt and flip flops and decided to do the park as easily as possible. We entered the park from a different entrance today. This way was much busier with tourists, but did provide lots of free buses around the park which were actually great. Today's scenery was just as good, with an even scarier cable car ride. Chelle was doing some heavy breathing on the floor of the cable car. .BWAHAHAHAHAHA. The weather wasn't as clear today but the landscape was still terrific.

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Another awesome day out for the lads. We kept bumping into this Swedish couple at every stop too. We passed a few Echo points too, where I did a few big whistles into them, and someone whistled back. HURRAH! Pretty feckin cool. We had a great laugh and Chelle was very good at putting up with my general impatience and excitement. ;)

Later we chased a giant roach around our room and Chelle booked us into a fancy hotel for our last night together tomorrow. awwwwww.

The following day I had a frustrating encounter with train personnel trying to buy a train ticket. The lady took my passport, wouldn't give me a ticket, kept pointing at something, while everyone behind me shouted over my head at her. Tum tee tum. I needed a break. We stocked up on supplies and headed to our fancy hotel for a few beers and a day of lazing around, which was great.

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Once again, the next morning, I was super sad to leave another awesome travelling companion and I got a bit teary-eyed and felt tres emotional for the rest of the day and my 24 hours of train journeys to Chengdu. Luckily everyone I met was super nice to me today. Staff in the station restaurant were super helpful, I met a gang of lovely Canadians in the waiting room and a young chap named Chong was in the top bunk beside me on the train. We chatted away to each other using apps and pictures. He also showed me a skeleton mask he had in his bag. (as ye do).
:)

Posted by squeakylee 02:32 Archived in China Tagged scenery land awesome avatar stacks epic pandora zhangjiajie Comments (0)

Chengdu

My little Chinese friend on the train chatted away to me for most of the evening via Google Translate. It was a howl. I told him via miming, pictures and my app, that I was going to Chengdu to see the pandas.
He asked me: ''Do you know many pandas in Chengdu?''
bwahahahahhahahahahaah - I fell around the place for ages.

Later he asked me ''Are you the man?'', which was obviously not AS funny. ;)

Then later again ''Do you know how to ride?''... hmmmmm... :D
Gas craic altogether. The poor fella was crippled in one leg, but was still clambering up and down from the top bunk and insisted on escorting me to the metro station in the morning. What a nice chap! He emailed me later in the day and I mailed him back. Friends Forever! I've also inspired him to travel as he thinks I'm very brave. :D awwwwwww

So I found my way to the hostel in Chengdu - Traffic Inn - it was hella cool. So big and had lovely couches, amazing staff, funky decor, wifi, Swiss breakfasts, hot showers, super clean dorms and movies. It was fabulous.
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I only just sat down to eat my Swiss breakfast when I got talking to a lovely Swedish filmmaker chap called Michel. Himself and his friend Victor were both from Stockholm and were out for 3 months travelling mostly overland. Sweden - Russia - China - Mongolia - Japan. We yapped away for ages and I mentioned that I'd like to go and see the Big Buddha in LeShan and would the like to come? He went to wake Victor and Victor joined us. Unfortunately upon investigating the option, the receptionist said we wouldn't have enough time to do it today as it was a 2.5 hour journey to get there and you'd need a few hours there at least. So we decided we'd do both the pandas and the big Buddha tomorrow.

We sat there yapping away and laughing - the two guys have excellent English - as do all the Swedish people I've met. The lads were great craic and had funny tales of their couchsurfing adventures. Later this very tall UK dude sat beside us and stared at us. I think he was waiting for an invitation to chat so I started talking to him. He'd been working as an English teacher in Shanghai for 2 months, but had had his contract terminated because the kids found his lessons too boring. Ouch! HARSH. Also I thought it was a bit weird to confess this information to people the minute you met them. Although I did ask why I suppose. ..
As we yapped he just got funnier. He told us he had also fallen down the gap between the train and the platform while he had been rushing to get the train, and only for his big backpack on his back had wedged him stuck, he would have gone underneath the train. I dunno why, but I thought this was the funniest thing every. I could just picture him stuck there, legs dangling away.. :D

Anyway since our trip to the Big Buddha was postponed, I decided to go and have a look at the People's Park and I suggested the lads visit Wenshu Temple and we'd meet up later for dinner. So off I went on the bus to the park. It was lovely, lots of plants, trees, people doing awesome aerobics, old people sitting around, monks feeding giant goldfish and pretty teahouses.

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But it was very very humid. It was pretty uncomforatble after a while so I went trundling off into the city and wen to Tiansu Square to see the Big Mao statue and eat McDonalds. I know - the shame!!

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I was so hungry though and just wanted something to bite into. Back at the hostel, weird UK dude sat down beside me and eyed me weirdly, so I made my excuses and escaped. Not before he told me he was off to do the Tiger Leaping Gorge in a few days if I was interested in travelling together. But then he said most people hate his style of travel.. which was (I did ask) to leave everything until the last minute.. hmmmmm. Yeah. LET'S DEFO TRAVEL TOGETHER. I LOVE THAT STYLE OF SHIT! ;) hahhahaaahahahaha
I legged it.

Later I met Michel and Victor for a stroll about town to find a hotpot place. A hotpot is basically when they bring out a big bowl of spicy peppers in hot liquid, inside another larger bowl of bubbling stock liquid. It goes on a flame in the middle of the table. Then they bring out vegetables, meat, fish, whatever and you dip the food into whichever liquid you like to cook it. I thought it sounded like a recipe for food poisoning at first, but was interested to try it out. We found a place with menus in Chinese and ordered what we thought was chicken, beef and vegetables. But out came a whole fish, a plate of worms and carpaccio of beef. We kept the beef but sent the others back. What we got was delicious though and we had great fun with it.

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On the way home we found the cool alleyways with lots of traditional Chinese housing with gorgeous lanterns and lights everywhere. It pissed rain soonafter and we got soaked. The girls in my dorm were asleep when I got home so I had to rustle around in the dark. A mosquito buzzed around my head all night and I dreamt I could talk to mosquitos through a drinking glass....

Posted by squeakylee 02:39 Archived in China Tagged park hot chengdu pot people's weirdo Comments (0)

PANDALAND

aka Chengdu

sunny 34 °C

I was up and atom at 6am so was rustling around again in the dorm probably annoying the ladies. Dunno which dorm room sound is worse - snoring, bags rustling or zips being opened and closed. :D These ladies were Norwegian and had been volunteering at Pandaland for the past week. They were due to do two weeks but they left after a week cos they said it was so boring. Apparently there was nothing to do in the evenings and they weren't even allowed to hug a panda for free!! Yikes.

Anywho myself, Victor and Michel meant to be on the road to Pandaland by 8 but we had a long breakfast, then had to wait an hour for a bus, so we were pretty late getting to the Panda Breeding Research Centre. The bus to the centre was great fun. We were chatting to a young Chinese girl and everything was getting lost or confused in translation between the four of us. We got to the centre about 10 ish and luckily the pandas weren't asleep yet. We skipped all the videos and museums and Swan Lake and all the other krap and just went straight to see the big Pandas. There were loads of them and they were all very lively. (Bar one guy who'd fallen asleep on his swing). The lads were great fun to watch. We didn't get to hug a panda as it cost something like 100 pounds sterling for a quick hug. Who has that kind of dough to blow on hugs??? Drugs - maybe.. Rugs - maybe not.. Hugs - they should be free.. ;)

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After our panda fix, we got a taxi back to our hostel for lunch and then hopped a bus to LeShan to see the Big Buddha. The Big Buddha is carved into the side of a hill and is 71 metres high. His ears alone are 7 metres high. Tis the WORLD'S LARGEST SEATED BUDDHA. A monk built it in 713 as he thought it would help calm the rivers that met below it, and guarantee the safety of those who lived and sailed along the rivers.
This mad monk apparently gouged out one of his eyes to convince people to donate money to the building of the Buddha - just to show he was serious like. :D

So after asking about 10 people where to get off the bus, we got there eventually. A young Chinese girl who wanted to practise her English on us, befriended us and led us around. The Buddha itself was super cool - very impressive altogether. I think it may have even been better than the PANDAS!

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So after a few hours chit chatting, step climbing and picture taking, alas we had to go get our bus back. Was a long trip for a short visit, but it was well worth it imo. Had great fun chatting to the two Swedes - they're both lovely funny guys. Felt like I'd known them for years!

Back in Chengdu, we went on the hunt for the Shamrock Irish bar and pints of Guinness. The lads were a little dissapointed to hear I didn't really like Guinness. (as many people have been - ''no Guinness, no Irish accent - sheesh are you really Irish??'') Victor told me of the time he'd been to Ireland and his hosts had brought him to TEDFEST! LOLOLOL - well now there's an intro to the real Ireland for ya! - a half empty remote island off the coast of Western Ireland, populated with madzers dressed as priests and nuns and little old ladies. hahahahaha.
We had the most delicious Westerny food in the Shamrock and lots of drinks. The lads told me their story of how they'd ordered some ''Bar Snacks'' in Russia to accompany their beers, and were given a whole fish each. bwahahah. Even the locals were asking them ''Where are you from? - Do you eat whole fish with beer in Sweden?'' Guffaw. We had a hape of drink and a great laugh. Woke up my roomies again to move dorms - serve them right, going to bed at 10pm - GET A LIFE YOU YOUNG WANS! ; )

I swear there was a tiger sleeping in the bunk above me - he was growling away all night. In the morning he offered me his spare breakfast. ??? :D

And yet again, I bid farewell to 2 more awesome travelling companions. The lads were off to ZhangJiaJie. I armed them with maps, too much confusing information and hugs and I went off to the train station to catch my train to Kunming. Unfortunately, I went to the wrong train station. What an Idiot! I just rocked up to Chengdu East and wandered around aimlessly looking for my train, til a young girl told me I had to go to Chengdu North station, which was a half hour away. Arrtggh.. Grabbed a cab and just made it. Fifth sleeper train - feel like I'm living on sleeper trains!

Posted by squeakylee 01:14 Archived in China Tagged buddha big bar land panda chengdu leshan shamrock swedes nom Comments (0)

Kunming

Kunming, Kunming..hmmm what did I do in Kunming

sunny 31 °C

Writing this ages later so probably have forgotten half of it. I was only really planning on hanging around Kunming for a night on the way to do the Tiger Leaping Gorge, but Kunming was lovely and pleasant with clean streets, clear blue skies and lots of sunshine. The hostel was pretty neat too and had a pool table and ping pong!

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There's not a helluva lot to do in the city though. I went to the Art Loft but there was bog all there, except 2 gallerys, 1 had 2 pictures in it, the other had maybe 10. Hmmmm I thought. That was a bit meh.

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So continued on to the shopping district and window-shopped in the fancy shops. Then went to the Flowers and bird market where all sorts of people were selling birds, flowers, dogs, cats and other bits and bobs. I felt a bit sorry for the cats and dogs as they were in tiny glass cages just waiting for people to buy them.

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After a few more hours exploring the town,

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I had enough walking and went back to my hostel to get my free beer. A young handsome Portuguese fellow named Joao came along and we had a grand auld chat outside watching some Americans and Chinese lads playing bad Ping Pong. Joao works with software and special effects and worked on all sorts of cool movies. OOOOOH. Nice going. He quit his job and is out to travel for as long as he can. He was a lovely, friendly funny chap and we got along great.

That night when I got to my dorm, there was a weird old German dude in the bed opposite me. He had his trousers on Simon Cowell stylee and his moobs out. I got quite a fright when he started mumbling at me as I thought the room was empty! I dind't understand what he was saying, but then he started talking English and saying ''Can you leave the door open please?... hmmm.. I was like ''eh ok.. but why?''. He explained he was having difficulty with his door card. I wondered was he even staying here or did he just mosey in off the mean streets of Kunming every night looking for an empty dorm to stay in. Anyways I was pretty happy when two more girls came in anc occupied the other beds.

Joao had been invited to lunch the next day by a lovely little Chinese lady - who we shall call Wu for short, (her name means Beauty of the Sea) so I tagged along as well. Wu brought us off on the bus to her friends house / restaurant. Her friend feeds people for free at his restaurant every day! Breakfast, lunch and dinner! So we were quite excited to be invited along for a free, local, delicious, vegetarian dinner! nom. We sat down with the owner, his friend and Wu, at a big round table with a lazy Susan on it chock full of delicious interesting treats - rice, vegetables, sticky rice in banana leaves, mushrooms and lots of other scrumptious delights.
The owner had an awesome gaff, with lovely polished wooden furniture, a giant tea-pouring desk and stacks of books about Buddhism and Mother Teresa etc.

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He also gives the books away for free and just asks that people pay the kindness forward to others. It was a really interesting place and we pondered how on earth this guy could afford to feed people and give away al the stuff for free. Wu hadn't even thought of that, so I'm afraid we planted seeds of curiousity in her mind! Oops

After dinner, the owner gave us free hemp nuts, which are apparently delicious, expensive and help you live to the ripe old age of 108. Yahoo! He gave us a packet each, which was a bit much considering they were so expensive. Plus we couldn't keep it refrigerated! But we didn't want to seem ungrateful so we took the free hemp. On the bus on the way back, we gave 1 of the packs to Wu. She was delighted, as she couldn't afford to buy the stuff herself. She said they would help her sleep as she had a hard time sleeping these days. She was so lovely! Anywho, we bid her good day and got our stuff. Joao had decided to come to Lijiang too, whoop! ROAD TRIP. So off we went to head for the epic sleeper bus. I wasn't really looking forward to the bus as I never find buses that comfortable. I much prefer the trains. You can move around and I sleep like a baby on them! : ) Wasn't sure how I'd handle 12 hours on a feckin bus!

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Soon as we got on the bus, I met another handsome lad - a young Dutchman named Stefan was in the sleeper next to me. More chums! Wahoo! Stefan had finished a law degree and was out travelling for as long as he liked as well, while he was still youngish. ; ) Well Jell. He'd already hitchhiked a lot of the way down from The Netherlands - quite impressive. Anyways he was a funny chap and we waffled away for a while. The bus wasn't too bad at all actually. The driver did have a gross habit of snotting out the window every 5 minutes which was kinda funny. The journey wasn't particularly comfy but I got a couple of hours sleep and I'm even writing this on the return sleeper bus from Lijiang to Kunming so elected to take the bus again (no choice really!).

Posted by squeakylee 02:50 Archived in China Tagged bus kunming sleeper hemp chums Comments (0)

Lijiang

a crazy maze of an old town.

sunny 34 °C

So the new gang - i.e. myself, Joao and Stefan, got some noodles at a local gaff and then walked into the old town of Lijiang. Myself and Joao were booked into Mama Naxi's and Stefan was going couchsurfing with a local dude named Soh. There was quite a nice view of the mountains as we plodded into town discussing the issues of the day.

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We went to Panba hostel first to meet Stefan's new chum and host for the night - Soh. Soh was a cool, friendly chap who laughed a lot. He showed us how to get to Mama Naxi's as the old town is a bit of a maze. (I got lost EVERY TIME I went anywhere). All the buildings in the old town have been refurbished to resemble old style Chinese buildings and they are all very pretty. They have intricate wooden designs, and the streets themselves are full of little stone pathways and bridges and lots of lovely pink flowers. It's all very romantic and cute. Unfortunately, all the streets look the exact same and it was impossible for me to find my way around.

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At Mama Naxi's we hung out and had some tea and were joined by the most knowledgable dude I've ever met - Chuck. (aka Clive, aka Chen Lee). He knew everything about everything - mostly geographic factoids. He'd been everywhere and seemed to retain facts about each country, like a sponge. He was a nice bloke who liked to waffle and he too joined the troop.
Soh brought us for an awesome hotpot - this one was based around ribs. I'm not a huge fan of ribs as they seem to be more bony and fatty than anything else, but these were alright - just tasted like chewy. :D

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We went somewhere else for dessert, where we discovered Stefan was an evil dog whisperer and had a talent for talking to dogs. ;) He encouraged a couple of dogs in the restaurant to ''go get'' this poor little fluffy dog on the street. And off they went!! It was hilarious. Although not for the other dog, who got a bit of a fright. But there was no big fights or anything and no injuries. (Don't worry Ro!)
Then we saw a little dog who had just been given a bath, shake himself all over this man nearby. The man obviously didn't like this, and turned around and sneezed violently on the dog, twice! TAKE THAT! lol. it was hilarious. Ye probably had to be there. ; )

Later we all met up for a few drinks and some pool at Panba Hostel.

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Soh brought us all to his private lounge nearby where a gang of his musician friends sang and played guitar & bongos for the evening. Chuck kept translating all the lines for me every five seconds which drove me bonkers, but it was quite good to hear the translation for the boob song. Something about how did you afford those fake boobs and that rolex.. or something.. The musician lads were quite talented alright and we got lots of free beer. I really like this new group, I haven't stopped laughing at all. The people that I've met in the last couple of months are really giving my mates in Dublin a run for their money. ;) hahahahhahahhah CONTROVERSIAL!. (That's if the shower of bastards even read this! ;) )
(They killed Kenny! ;) ) xx

Posted by squeakylee 02:35 Archived in China Tagged town old mates musicians lijiang boobs Comments (0)

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