A Travellerspoint blog

Lijiang, Tiger Leaping Gorge 22/04/11 - 24/04/11

22/04/11 – Lijiang

Arrived at the station and shared the bus with two Swiss and a German guy. Upon arrival the German guy got off and the two Swiss got roped into a Y500 day trip from the hostel. I got showered and some breakfast and had a chat with Amy from London, then set off into the old town. After 10 minutes I was freezing and only had my shit flickers on so wanted to go back but I was totally lost and stayed that way for another hour.

Arriving back I chilled out for a while and then set back off again at around 15:30, this time away from the old town and onto the main road. I walked for about 45 minutes and then noticed a big golden spire sticking out from a hilltop so I cut onto the farms and walked towards it photographing yaks and avoiding farmers dogs as I went. It was a lot further and harder to find than I thought it would be but really worth it. I arrived and gates to see a derelict run down courtyard with a farmer herding cows around it. I carried on through a gate and found a pristine garden devoted to Buddhism and the Dali Lama, no tourists at all, only one or two monks going about their business. I found a Monk praying and banging a drum in the main building and after taking some pictures of the grounds, he came out and gave me a guided tour of the building. He only spoke Chinese so I didn’t benefit as much as I would have liked but he did give me an apple as a going away present.

After leaving I spent the next few hours trying to find my way back to the hostel. Eventually I did and got some food before bed.

23/04/11 – Tiger Leaping Gorge (Day 1)

A girl in the hostel had told me that once you get to the end of the trail, they charge Y350 to get back to the beginning in order to catch the bus back to Lijiang, they chose not to pay and added a 20 mile walk to their itinerary. Because of this I decided to get the bus straight to Tina’s Hostel and do the trek backwards. I was still ill to the point of almost not going so I thought it might also be easier as the 28 bends would be downhill instead of uphill. I saw English food on the menu at Tina’s and decided to top up on energy by ordering omelette and chips. I felt the negative effects of a full stomach when I then started the journey though. I started off up the mountain and quickly realised that disposing of all your bodies fluids every 20 minutes for a few days means it’s almost impossible to climb for more than a few seconds. I rested after every 10 or so steps and then met two girls coming down who said they had been coming downhill all day which completely demoralised me. I then started to think how lonely it will be doing the trek backwards (it turned out to be less so as I met everyone coming the other way).

After about 2 hours I was at the top and thrilled to see that it was flat path for as far as I could see. I spent the next two hours happily walking along looking at the amazing views and waterfalls, getting attached by a crazy horse and saying hello to the people I saw (about 10 groups altogether).

I arrived at the Tea Horse at 4pm just as it started to rain and spoke to an English couple who were blowing their kids inheritance on a £12,000 personal guided tour around china. After this I ate food with them and spent the rest of the night having a few beers around a fire with all the other trekkers.

24/04/11 – Tiger Leaping Gorge (Day 2)

Up in the morning at around 8.30 and had apple and banana pancake for breakfast before setting out to complete the journey. It was a bit cloudier that day so not so much to see. I spent another hour or two climbing before heading down the 28 bends, this is supposed to be a killer going up but going down it took me about five or ten minutes. Before getting to the Naxi house I met an English couple and a Vietnamese guy. After that, many more people appeared, including someone trying to sell me weed.

I got into the start town and some random guy got me in his minivan for Y30 back to Lijiang, there was some Chinese tourist looking girls in there so it seemed ok. Before long I realised that I was in the local delivery / post / people smuggling van as we seemed to be stopping every 6 seconds picking these and people up and his phone didn’t stop ringing the whole time. I felt like I was in the Chinese GTA.

Getting back to Lijiang I booked into the hostel and went for food. I had been told on the Gorge that there was a Pizza Hut in town which I decided to visit. Y80 for a pizza with stuffed crust, I just presumed it was the novelty that warranted the price and didn’t realise that I was in fact ordering a dustpan lid. Arriving back at the hostel I realised I was about to run out of money so I went to the ATM and managed to block my credit card somehow. I was lucky that the only other card I had with me worked.

Posted by sharpting 14:30 Archived in China Tagged tiger gorge lijiang leaping Comments (0)

Kunming 18/04/11 - 21/04/11

18/04/11 – Travelling to Kunming

We set off on the bus to Huaihua along a dirt road for 2.5 hours and when we arrived we decided to eat KFC and pick up some snacks for the long train ride ahead. While in the supermarket Johnson realised he had left some expensive tea on the bus that his cousin had picked up for us and ran off to get it back. Leaving me to wander the store with only one instruction “buy some sausage”. This was easier said than done. I searched the but couldn’t find any, after a while an assistant stopped me and said something in Chinese (I presume “what are you looking for”) so I got out my phrase book and before I could find the word I was surrounded by at least 10 workers anxiously waiting for my words of wisdom. I finally found my word “Xiangchang” I shouted as they all burst into laughter and pointed me upstairs.

After taking some pictures of the livestock they had in the store which included pigeons, I set off for the train station where I had agreed to meet Johnson after 1 hour. I sat on the step waiting for him for over an hour, during this time I was approached by a very old man (about 90+) wearing a straw pointy hat and a black cloak. He sat talking to me for well over twenty minutes, at first I think he was after money but then proceeded to ramble on at me, mostly about girls as he constantly pointed at them walking past. I gave him the “wo bu mingbai” about 40 times before he finally pointed to his ear in an effort to tell me he was deaf as a bat.

Johnson returned after he left and he waited with me while I boarded my train, I had a 16 hour train trip to Kunming and he had a similar journey back to Shanghai leaving an hour later. I boarded and lay in my bed watching China’s farms, mountains and small villages fly by for the first 3 hours and then at 6pm decided to eat my noodles and sausage. This was when things went bad, shortly after eating I felt sick, really sick. I felt bloated and constipated so I visited the toilet.. twice, then once again to throw up. After this I couldn’t go 15 minutes without either puking my guts up or having bum gravy, the fun was added to by all this happening in the Chinese train toilets which stunk of shit and cigarette smoke and were literally covered in the same.

I finally got some sleep but it didn’t last long.

19/04/11 – Kunming

Arrived here at 7am and surprisingly managed find the bus stop and get to the hostel within 30 minutes. After checking in got showered and went for a stroll around town. As I didn’t have a map I decided to cross the road and walk straight ahead and then turn around. I had landed on a big shopping street, everything from Nike to Armani, just like Manchester’s Market Street but Chinese characters as well as English. I got to the end and couldn’t proceed as I was at an army building so I turned around and set back along the next street across. A whole new world from what I just encountered emerged, I first found a junk shop stacked to the ceiling with old books and antiques, it could have been cashed in for millions or fifty quid, you would only know if you were an antiques dealer and had a few weeks to spare to sift through everything. I then found a small park where I sat for a while and watched people feed the birds before setting back off down the road to find people literally living in waste and scrawny diseased looking chickens picking through shit.

Seeing a little boy running about looking like he had never seen water reminded me of a really happy baby I saw the other day, he had a rock tied to some rope.
Getting back to the hostel I met a Korean guy who was 66 but seemed to be the fittest guy I ever seen. A Chinese guy and Polish guy. The Polish guy bored the shit out of me for an hour with his negative thoughts about the world, specifically the difference between stupidity and intelligence within politics. After this we all went out (minus the Polish guy) for food, but not before the Chinese guy told me he was a pharmacist and wanted to give me some drugs for sickness. He dished out some prescription drug, that when googled was revealed to be a last option drug for something none related and often causes anticoagual problems. I ditched that idea and he then gave me some herbal medicine which I had to take four. Then he marched me round to the pharmacist where I had a further 3 tablets and a rehydration sachet.
I was so stuffed full of drugs that I didn’t need any food but we went for some anyway, the old do it yourself on the table type of cooking. After that it was pretty much bed.

20/04/11 – Kunming day 2

Up early and bus hopped until I was at the bottom of a Mountain at the Western Hills, It sits next to Tien lake which stretches 50km (sixth biggest fresh water lake in China) and the best way to see it is to hike 8km up the mountain. I was far from feeling up to it but decided I had nothing better to attempt so I bought some water and set off up. I first met some Chinese that didn’t speak English so left them. Then I met some Mongolian Monks who wanted to take pictures with me, the talkative one was far to touchy feeling to be straight so I quickly left them too. I then met a Chinese girl who I completed the trek to the top with, she bought a ticket to some dragon gate thing but I couldn’t be bothered, I’m sure the Pavilion view that we saw was just as good as the dragon gate that costs Y40.

I got back and met a Welsh guy, we mooched around town for a bit and then ate at some shoddy rip off KFC called Dico’s. After this we went back to the hostel for a beer and bed.

21/04/11 – Travel to Lijiang

Got up and went with the Welsh guy (now known to be called Russ) to the hospital as I was still throwing up a bit and shitting water every 20 minutes. It was difficult to figure out where to go but eventually I found someone to point me in the right direction. The right direction was in a clinic room with 3 doctors, one of them spoke English which helped a lot. He put me on the bed and pushed down on my stomach a bit while the other two doctors gathered around me to observe. Then we were off to have blood and stool tests done (the doctors refer to it “we need to test your shit” haha). Apparently these came back ok so I was left with only a prescription for some shitty drugs that do nothing be fill my stomach with gas which gives me severe stomach cramps throughout each day (diarrhoea continues). After the hospital we wandered around a bit before heading back to the hostel to await my train to Lijiang at 11pm.

Posted by sharpting 14:29 Archived in China Tagged kunming Comments (0)

Fenghuang Cheng 16/04/11 - 17/04/11

16/04/11 – Fenghuang Cheng
We woke in the morning and went for breakfast in a restaurant, we had noodles and dough and boiled egg. The waitress was very nice and offered to show us around and come for a drink with us at the night time. We then set off to the southern great wall of China, which was discovered in 2000. We caught the number 2 bus part of the way and then jumped in one of the mini buses for the remainder. The entrance fee is Y45 but you get to keep the credit card type ticket as a souvenir so not too bad. We spent only a few hours at the beginning part, I don’t think either myself or Johnson are fit to do big hikes at the minute as the backs of our legs are still aching stepping of curbs but you could definitely spend a day walking along it if you wanted to.

After that, we headed back to town for dinner, the first place we stopped at we went to wash our hands in the back to see a bowl of vegetables sat on the toilet so we left. We then wandered around and found a small restaurant where myself and a local women with the happiest baby in the world kept each other entertained.

Then off to the hotel to change rooms, which turned out to be changing hotels again. We got checked in to the nicest room in the hotel (courtesy of Johnson’s cousin) and I decided to wash my clothes in the sink as all the local washing was done in the river outside the hotels. Looking back I wish I would have opted for the river as when I started to wash my underwear the sink decided to cave in and smash all over the floor leaving water pissing out of the pipes all over myself and the bathroom. The staff were called and we ventured out for a walk along the river and boat ride while they sorted it out.

When we got back they finished up installing the sink and then called Johnson to reception, he said they probably want compensation and to wait for him which I did for about 15 minutes before going do to see what was happening. When I got downstairs Johnson was in heated debate with the hotel owner while the plumber waited to be paid. After a while Johnson told me that he wants Y200 compensation and would accept his offer of Y100 but Y150 would probably be agreeable. I wasn’t happy as in England I would be the one after compensation and threatening to call in the health and safety inspectors. However, this was China and Johnson’s cousin had kindly paid for the hotel and looked after us in Jishou so I paid Y150 and we all shook hands.

After this we got ready and went out for some meat on stick treats, Johnson had often gone without spices on his food for me so I told him not to cancel the spice for a change (something I regretted on the morning after). While we were meeting we were met by the waitress form the morning called Xiang Wei (again remember as John Wayne). We all went to a bar on the river that had a guy playing live acoustic music so I was happy, we played a drinking game with dice and then all went back to our hotel room so Xiang Wei could show us all her pictures on the pc (we have a pc in our hotel room, very posh).

17/04/11 – Fenghuang day 2

Up in the morning and back to the restaurant for breakfast, then as we left Xiang Wei caught up with us and we all wandered through the market and into town, the usual constant hellos and people wanting photos with me rather than the traditionally dressed girls or fancy dress costumes you can rent up down the river made me think I could dress up in a butler outfit and earn more than most of locals offering pictures.

Now it’s 12:20 and we are back in the hotel, I will be leaving Johnson tomorrow and venturing 16 hours in Yunnan province, I really should be spending every minute investigating how I will get to and from hostels and ticket prices and train station locations but I really can’t be bothered, I will just see how I get on.

While eating dinner at the same place as yesterday, we met a girl in town for a training session. Johnson quickly became friends with her and we all went back to our hotel room. Feeling that 3 was a crowd I went off to climb the mountain behind town, I walked and walked until finally I couldn’t hear the beeping from the street below. I may not have mentioned this yet but the thing I hate most about China is the constant beeping of horns, it’s a lot worse than I remember from my last visit. In fact, I only thought it was a Beijing habit until now. Almost to the top of the mountain (which is more like a hill) I met some old Chinese women, they spoke to me in Chinese and before I knew what was going on I had a guided tour the remainder of the way. They showed me a Buddha type statue near the top, what appeared to be their home which was little more than a canopy with a stone oven in (view was nice though) and finally a barn type structure that housed a temple of sorts. If you’re looking for an authentic tribute site rather than pay per view stuff in town with the fake monks then look no further. One women got me to pray and then gave me 9 incense sticks (3 for each statue) after I made my donation! And then the other showed me a massive crack in the wall that she either wanted me to pay for or she thought I was a builder or something.

Later we had dinner and had an early night.

Posted by sharpting 10:48 Archived in China Tagged cheng fenghuang Comments (0)

Jishou - 15/04/11

15/04/11 – Jishou

Today we set of to Jishou, only a 2 hour train ride and then we met the last of Johnson’s cousins. He picked us up and took us for food in a local place. We had seaweed soup, egg and tomato, and some spicy stuff which I didn’t eat. Now that I have travelled a bit around China, I see that each place has its own preference for food. From the few meals I have had in Zhanghiajie they seem to like spice, Jishou people like balanced diet of vegetables and they like salt, I have been told that Fenghuang people are big on extra spicy so let’s see how that works out for me.

We then dropped our bags at Johnsons Auntie’s before heading out around town on our own for a few hours. Jishou is a town of about 200,000 people so small in comparison to where I have been so far, we walked through the markets for a while before stopping for a foot massage. The massage was very good and turned into a full body massage which was a bonus. I impressed the masseur with my pasty white skin enough that we felt compelled to shout “I love you” when we were paying, and then dragged me into the staff room where I had to entertain about a dozen workers with my fluent Mandarin for a few minutes, It was a good way to finish the afternoon for Y50 and sorted out my crippling pain from the two days of step climbing for all of 20 minutes.

After that we got picked up by Johnson’s cousin and taken to a restaurant where I met more extended family members, we all shared a meal before getting a lift for the hour’s drive Fenghuang Cheng. This was a quite a comical experience, I had raised concerns to Johnson a few times about booking a hostel in Fenghuang but he insisted that his cousin had booked us somewhere nice (I don’t think Johnson is big on the hostelling scene). We arrived and after a quick wander we found the hotel… nope, by the reception we got from the reception staff, this was definitely not where we were spending the night. Onward to another hostel over the river and we arrived to an even more hostile reception staff. A phone call later and one of the hotel staff was leading us up the river to another hotel, a quick chat later and we are out of the hotel, key in hand looking down a back alley… hmmm, I thought. Then another staff member approached and led us down the alley and into a building that was under construction, letters and buckets lay everywhere and a strong smell of plaster. After a quick fight with the lock we finally got in at 10pm. Another day done.

Posted by sharpting 10:48 Archived in China Tagged jishou Comments (0)

Zhangjiajie 12/04/11 - 14/04/11

12/04/11 – Zhangjiajie

We caught the train in the morning to Zhangjiajie, we arrived quite late and nipped into KFC for some food, Johnson kicked off with half the staff in there for incompetence after a trainee spilt two of my fries whilst placing them on my tray. I didn’t think it was much of a problem but I suppose it’s a culture thing. We then got collared by two girls who wanted to follow us to the hostel as they had nowhere to stay, they took one look at the dorm room we had booked and walked straight out haha. Later we walked about town and around a market before going for food (rice noodles and meat on a stick Y25). Then off to the local bar, we played pool and darts, then sang some karaoke. As I had an option of about 4 English language songs I ended up singing Toxic by Britney Spears. Johnson sang a few Chinese numbers, even a duet.

13/04/11 – Avatar country

We set off early to the Zhangjiajie mountains (where Avatar was filmed apparently). I will explain the details of how we got there at the end. We arrived and set off along the forest trail, we saw monkeys but not a lot else to be honest, it was looking a bit dull but then we came across an elevator that shot up over 300 metres (Y56). We saw some amazing views from the top and spent the remainder of the day walking back down. It seems not that high but the steps start to go down but then go back up again, it wasn’t easy and the next day the backs of our legs were killing.
After getting back to town, we went for hotpot, it was much more upscale than the one Toffler took us to back in 2007. Then back to the hostel for a shower before heading out with a girl from Shanghai who we met walking out the door. I agreed with Johnson that we would only go out for one drink, the deal that was offered when we arrived at the bar was 6 beers for Y80 (I think Johnson has his suspicions that I’m an alcoholic, he often explains that Chinese people only drink with meals). Once again, Johnson got on the karaoke and also Ellen from Shanghai did a duet with him.

Two things I have noticed since getting to China is that everyone seems to be amazing on karaoke and Johnson get rat arsed after about half a beer.

  • *From Zhangjiajie city, you can catch a mini bus from the small bus station in the centre (not the train station) to one of I think 3 main gates (Y11-13).

If you end up near the Y50 elevator I would not take it, instead use the free shuttle bus located at the start and end of each section.

14/04/11 – Still in the mountains

Up a bit later today and went to buy a ticket to see Johnsons other cousin, he will drive us half the distance to Fenghuang Cheng. Then back to the mountain as we bought a 2 day ticket yesterday. We caught the bus to a different entrance. On the way we passed mountain villages which were pretty cool and after arriving at the gate, instead of catching the transfer bus straight away we walked up the road for about 20 minutes before flagging it down. This was the more authentic part of the mountains for me as I wasn’t joined by 1000 new friends on every step I took. We got to the top and ventured around the rock we landed at, I also smoked a cigarette rolled by a nice girl that she gave me for free, it was nice even without a filter. After realising this was only a small part of the mountain and we would have to go back for another transfer bus, we started a journey on buses that would last the rest of the day until we finally gave up and jumped on the cable car (Y56). My phone ran out of battery after getting on but it wasn’t that scenic anyway and only lasted about 5 minutes. After getting off we got the bus back to town and had MacDonald’s before heading back to the hostel so I could write this thrilling story. Johnson has started snoring now…. Nighty night.

One more thing – If you ever want to know what it’s like to be a celebrity, just come to China. You are guaranteed that one in 5 people will see you and either wave or say “hello”.

Posted by sharpting 10:46 Archived in China Tagged zhangjiajie Comments (0)

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