A Travellerspoint blog

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aka Grimsville

overcast 32 °C

Got to Chongqing at 6am and we were expecting to be picked up by a driver/rep from our booked Yangzi River cruise, but there was no one there. We rang the hostel and a while later a man appeared. He had no English and we had no mandarin, but this didn't stop him yapping at us for yonks. :D

I found this amusing. We're never going to understand you no matter how many times you say it Mister - not unless you put a few mimes in there. ;) We have tried to learn a few phrases but it's pretty difficult to learn stuff you don't understand. And even when we do say what we have learnt, people look at us like we're aliens and say ''HUH??'' Then we repeat it again and again for a few minutes. Still nothing. Then Michelle plays it on her iphone app and then suddenly everyone understands! Even though we think it sounds exactly the same as what we just said! :D It's a great game all the same. :)

Anywho the driver brings us to the base where Jimmy, who speaks English, takes over and gives us a rundown of our expensive 3 day, 2 day itinerary for the cruise. Turns out today is day 1 and it will consist of waiting around for a bus til 4pm, then driving til 9pm and getting on the boat at 10pm. uh oh. Then tomorrow the boat would dock at 6am and we would tour the white King City til 10am, back to the big boat to sail through 1 gorge til 12, then an OPTIONAL TRIP ON A SMALLER BOAT (AKA MORE MONEY) to the Lesser 3 Gorges! (this would cost us an extra 30 quid each if we wanted to do it). The best bit is not even included. Our spirits were dropping. The guy in the hostel, that we liked and trusted, had told us everything was included. Grim. So after that, the big boat would continue on through Wu Gorge for another 2 hours. Then day 3, we would get off the boat at 7am to go to some poxy dam!
We were raging and really dissappointed. We felt royally ripped off and needed a good rant. We went for coffee for a few hours and had a good auld rant to each other about how annoyed we felt. Then we went back to Jimmy and let him know our feelings. He then told us it was our lucky day as our boat had a malfunction and we were to be upgraded to a fancy shmancy boat. Hmmmmm. At this stage, we expected a dinghy or a fisherman's trawler to rock up. :D

Chongqing itself was grim. The river looked brown and sludgy, the sky was smoggy and grey, half the town was rubble and it really was all a bit of a shithole. We did however find the best steamed buns ever and scoffed 4 each, followed by some pot noodles on a plastic table for lunch. Michelle insisted on wiping the table with her surface wipes before we ate. LOL. I tried to explain to her that the noodles in fact, came in a portable bowl and we wouldn't have to slurp them off the table. But she insisted! ;) Even the Chongqing beer was shite.


We were glad to board the bus to get the feck out of there and even more delighted to see and meet 2 US lads, Evan and Neil, in the seats behind us. They were handsome, intelligent and funny and we all got along instantly. Things seemed a bit brighter as they were delighted to see us too. Even the constant stream of shitetalk from the little lady on the microphone at the front of the bus didn't dampen our lifted spirits.

We stopped at what seemed to be the Chinese equivalent of Disneyland for an oppulent dinner and made friends with a few Chinese lads and lasses at the table.


We were even more surpirsed and happy to see that our boat was not a heap of krap, but actually a pleasant, clean little river cruiser with friendly staff. HURRAH! Our room was nice too and on the 4th floor so there was no smell of diesel. Phewf. We dumped our stuff, showered and rendezvoused with Evan on the rooftop for a few well appreciated drinks and a bit of a laugh. The two lads were stellar Americans, very intelligent and even got sarcasm!! Which was handy, considering Michelle was around and she is one sarcastic *i*c9 ;)


Posted by squeakylee 23:59 Archived in China Comments (0)

The Cruise

I'm on a boat... I'm on a mothaf*(kin boat

sunny 33 °C

So during the night we bobbed along and arrived at White King City. After a magnificent buffet breakfast we hopped on a bus - 4 westerners in a sea of Chinese tourists and off we went to White King City. Our bus once again had a small tour leader that shouted Chinese into a bad microphone alllll the way to WKC and everywhere we went basically. (I might have mentioned this before. ;) ) It was hilarious. And deafening. When we got off the bus, there was not only 1 of these little leaders but loads of them - everywhere - shouting away with their little flags and groups of Chinese tourists - all with their matching hats on. It was pretty funny actually. Hard to get a bit of peace and quiet to enjoy the sights and scenery though.

The White King City itself was alright. I think the 4 of us would have preferred a lie in though. :D We moved on anywho and had a look around. We had a nice view of a gorge, climbed some steps, saw some angry looking Chinese Chief/Warrior statues, then went back to the big boat.


Our main cruiser rocked off through the beautiful gorges before a big lunch......

....and disembarkment back to a smaller boat to do the 3 Lesser Gorges. This boat trip was SUBLIME. The scenery was spectacular.
9082854506_c64ebd0a65.jpg 9122536626_ef3d1fcf3e.jpg

The boat itself wasn't that great, and they charged you if you wanted to sit down on a seat on the deck. As a matter of principle (or stubborness), no one sat on the deck! Everyone ended up standing around on the deck for hours but it was beautiful.


Great big chunks of rock towered above us on either side as we sailed down the beautiful pea-greeny river. After a few hours, we changed boats to a smaller wooden boat with a retractable roof and a singing Captain, whose voice echoed through the gorges. It was Mighty Fine!


The lads had retired to their rooms and Mich had gotten sunburnt so had gone to smother herself in moisturiser. Later there seemed to be some racket coming from the ''ballroom''. Evan knocked on our room door to inform us he would be singing The Backstreet Boys in Karaoke in 10 minutes. I showered and went to witness the warbling madness, that was but a stones throw away from our room. Michelle was snoozing and I didn't want to wake her up. I toddled along to the scene of many crimes and found Neil just about to go 'onstage' to sing Santana. He was very good, and Evan followed soon after to rapturous applause from the western Laydeeze, and the Chinese lads who were drinking and singing to beat the band.

The lads then did a duet and every second song was another warbled Chinese ballad from the drunken Chinese lads. I got up and sang what I thought was going to be ''Stand by Me''. Turned out to be a magnificent Chinese pop version of Stand by me, with a video of this girl getting her make up and hair done throughout. :D I had to do a lot of adlibbing and a bit of 'clap your hands everybody' style shit to fill in the gaps with no words. The two lads came over and stood by me for a bit of the song which was hilarious. We were drinking some mad fishy smelling alcohol that Evan had purchased, which we mixed with Sprite to give it quite the delicate flavour! ;) Finally Michelle rose from the dead and the 4 of us moved to the top deck where we all drank more shite and sang and joked. The lads even did a bit of beatboxing. Well I never.

Day 3 consisted of getting up at 6 am and going to see some dam project that no one had any interest in.
We did get an English guide for this one - i.e Mandy & our driver Mr. Chan. So at least we got a few facts for this bus trip. Think this was cos there were two G Adventure tour groups on our bus so maybe they had paid for an English guide and we just got ''lucky''??
The dam was impressive as far as man made schemes go but after seeing such natural beauty at the gorges, it seemed a bit meh. We bid adieu to Mandy & Mr Chan and the 4 of us bundled into cabs to get to Yichang train station. We were aiming to get the 1.30 train to ZhangJiaJie - aka AVATAR LAND - a magical place full of supremely tall sandstone and quartz stacks. Supposedly Pandora in the movie Avatar was based on this place, although James Cameron denies it was and maintains it was somewhere else in Hubei. But who cares! Let's name it Avatar Land anyways :D Tough nuggies Mr. Cameron. There's even been talk of naming one of the stacks Halleluyah Mountain.

Anywho at the train station, the queues were milllles long and there was no way we would get the train on time. So Michelle decided to play the dumb foreigner and went up to the wrong desk to ask for 4 tickets and it worked. HUZZAH. We headed off to ZhangJiaJie full of excitement!

Posted by squeakylee 01:15 Archived in China Tagged boat city cruise king white karaoke microphone Comments (0)


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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)


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.

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.


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!!

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.


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)


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.. ;)


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!


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)

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