Shangri-La to Chengdu
01.08.2011 - 10.08.2011 34 °C
So I suppose you're mildly curious as to what I've been up to hey? Well before I divulge the mildly amusing details let me fore-warn you, I'm doing this on my iPhone so typos shall be rife. appologies m'dears.
So Shangri-la to Chengdu via West Sichuan was a no-go unfortunately SOOOOO I had to majorly back track to KUNMING to get the train up to Chengdu. So that involved two days worth of buses through some of the most mountainous terrain Ive yet incountered (and with a serious bout of food poisoning sublimely and wickedly times with a relatively mild case of Altitude sickness was NO EASY FEAT!!) it took most of my energy not to hurl everywhere on the way back to dear Kunming. Stated at some impossible YHA hostel in Kunming and much to my dismay the staff were utterly useless, well that may be a tad bit harsh, let's just saythat they were severely under staffed by kids between their Gaokao (VCE exams) and uni. Essentially they didn't give a stuff. But who can blame them when a bunch of irate French backpackers are practically screaming at them in French and winderin why the hell the staff don't understand. Hate to break it to you guys, but French is no longer (if ever was) the lingua-franca. Sorry. Anyway. Overnight train to Chengdu. Again hard seat, no sleeper. I think I'm getting the hang of sleeping upright with people either side of me. It's an art I swear and know you are totally jealous.
"get down to the interesting stuff, we dont care for your relatively late night musings Zoe!" I hear you say. Hold your horses I'm getting there ok?!
So Chengdu was pretty cool nice and laid-back really. Stayed at the Mix. So the first day I go there was relatively knackered cause of the train. Go there at about 3pm got the bus ti the hostel dumped my bags, SHOWER, and sit on couch to read a book. Ten this chick from Sweden comes in and says mind if I put a movie on? Well she chucked on Lord of the Rings and I'm slightly ashamed to say that we sat there from about 5pm until 2am watching the WHOLE trilogy. Something I've never done before and something I suspect I shall have to do when I return home. The whole concept was lost on me except for some crazy obsession with an evil ring and the line "my precious" lol.
Following day went to see the Giant Pandas at the "Panda sanctuary". I've a few things to say on the matter (ha since when don't I have somethig to say of late??)
Pandas are adorable. Especially when 4mths old twins decide to play stacks-on-mum and make her tumble off the platform or you get to see a 3 day old pink thing in a humidi-crib. However it is most distressing that in a "sanctuary" well let's face it, it was more a glorified Panda zoo with 4m x 3m pens with minimal natural foliage that would be found in their natural environs (ie BAMBOO), these near extinct creatures are essentially a black and White bag of furry bones. The poor things were so skinny and the look intheir eye eleven they stared at you from their daze was one of utter loss of faith. Many would argue that their just animals bread in captivity and know no diferent. But it's still gut wrenching when they stare you in the eye and seem to beg for something more.
Moral of the story. Pandas are cute, but desperately depressing.
The following day I decided to temporarily check out of Mix and head down to Luobian 洛表 on the Sichuan/Yunnan border (9hr bus) to see the hanging coffins of the long extinct Bo people. So got talking to a husband and wife on one of the buses and he asked if that's what I was going to see. I'm like yeh going early to see them. He offered to show me them in the morning as he used to play there as a kid. So of course ii was like sure that would be great thanks. they helped me check into a hotel and said he would pick me up at 7am.
Half an hour later I get a text asking if I'd had Sichuan food yet. My response no I haven't. So I also got a dinner. Thought cool we will go out for something. Qian comes by the hotel, picks me up on the back of his motor bike and drives through the Market, picking up fish chicken and herbs along the way. So home cooked sichuan food. No English with Qian, his wife, brother and daughter. Very cool. Spoke about everything from what I was doing in China (he is also a teacher although far more qualified) to the differences in Chinese and Western culture especially marriage, all the way to how independent western kids are compared to their Chinese counterparts. It was quite interesting really. Spending a rather relaxed evening in the company of complete strangers in their home. It would seem that humanity is not this big evil thing many would have us believe. Gotta have a little faith from time to time. they all walked me back to the hotel when it started to get dark. We walked back through the original 300year old village (in which people still live, work and socialise) listening to the gauntly sound of the erhu waft through the labrinth of old dirt streets. I guess they don't get many foreigners out there as everyone I walked past did a double take, the children got into small arguments with each other as to wether or not there really was a "waiguo" (foreigner) in their village and then upon realising followed us all the way to the hotel. I think I had a following of about 15kids. was pretty cool. We walked through the old, original 400year old city gates. They looked both fragile and imposing, sturdy and wise at the same time. There were lions guarding either side of the blue, yellow and red mosaic gate and pine trees acutally growing out of the top. Was pretty cool to watch the sun set through the gates and the village.
The following day I got up at 5:45am with the idea of havin a shower. Little did I know that the water is solar heated and the over night temperature was about 12 degrees. Brrrrr. So gave up on that crazy idea. Packed and watched the morning news whilst waiting for Qian. Got a text saying to meet him in the resturant next door for breakfast. Wet down met him had hella spicy noodles for breaky (mouth was still tingling 4hrs later!!!) and then we went on his motor bike to see the hanging coffins of the long dead Bo people.
He said watch the cliffs as I held onto the back of the bike. Sure enough out of the sheer cliff face square holes appeared in regular clusters.
He pointed outto me that these were the holes for the support pins that the coffins once balanced on. As we rounded the corner a cluster of about 6 coffins came into view about 100m up the sheer cliff. He kept saying over and over that the Bo wre really smart and that even to this day no one has any idea how they got them there as thy were mostly under massive lips (think upside down L). We did a circuit of the valley floor all you could hear was the sounds of early morning village life, wind through the corn fields, the roosters call, childrens laughter, the river and the wound of he motorbike. I kid you not I know it sounds extremely idilic but that's how it was. To get to some of the coffins we had to walk through farmers fields and the yards of original cottages (200 years old minimum).
It was seriously cool and not something I will ever forget I think. Headed back to Chengdu at about 11am hit back at some obscene hour.
Following day I just killed around Chengdu. Looked at a map and saw that there was an IKEA in the south of the city. Now I don't remember if I told you but for about the last month I've been haven these incredibly vivid dreams about IKEA and random impulses to go there. Seriously been giving me the irrates. I don't even like IKEA that much. So for the first time in my life I got the metro. Yeah Zoes on the metro everyone look out or be surprised. Well may not seem like much but I was pretty chuffed. Metro is cool. Anyhow got to IKEA and couldnt help but laugh.
It was really surreal. hung round IKEA for a little while then wet and checked out the MASSIVE electronics markets up the road. Was cool think Eastland buy over 7levels. techies paradise me thinks. Lol. Followed up by a trip to the park, I didn't know that there was a Starbucks in ancient china.
Overnight train to Lanzhou then to Dunhuang where I currently write to you from. It's desert country out here sand and sun and about 37degrees. Lovely I've been told that today is Ramadan on the Muslim calendar, that explains all the tables set up in the streets outside as Dunhuang is a majority Muslim town. Well should go. Will talk soon. I've all bu given up on photos guys I'm afraid Internet out this way is way to slow. When I get back to school in September I'll do a mass upload to here and good old FB. until then be good and talk soon.