I made it to Tibet after all.....
23.08.2011 - 09.09.2011 35 °C
Nimen hao or should I say "Ta'shi de'lek" (hello in Tibetan)?
Ok so I know it hasn't exactly been three days, more like two weeks and three days.... hehehehe I know, I'm a shocker. But hey, what you gonna do about it eh? :P
My speedy escape from glorious Xinjiang landed me head first in Lanzhou, Gansu Provence and straight into the back of a ever happy taxi driver. Got in the taxi and the driver is gibbering away in Chinese and asking questions. You know, taxi talk, anyway it wasn't until I got out of the cab at the South Bus Station that I had a mini revelation; I understood about 90% of what he was saying and could answer all of it. Hells yeah, go me... lol. So after my small and slightly ridiculous victory dance on the steps of the bus station (much to the entertainment of the waiters in the Muslim restaurant next door... awkward...) I lugged my now morbidly obese, human-sized, blue back-pack up the stairs, dragged it across the floor (was too knackered to even pick the bloody thing up) to the ticket window and purchased a bus ticket to Xia'he (夏河) in southern Gansu. Now I suppose you can imagine the looks I was getting and the impression of utter terror on the woman's face when I brought it over to the luggage storage area... poor love, lucky it could sit in the floor, I didn't like the chances of the shelves holding it up for very long with all the other luggage on it. hehehe....
Bus to Xia'he was rellatively uneventful. Managed to get a bit of sleep and chill... in more ways than one. My jumper was at the bottom of my back pack and out of reach for the trip and when I got off the bus I well and truly froze! It was something like 12degrees out there! eek! My brain was like "haul ass back to Xinjiang, I don't care if there is massive amounts of extremely intimidating "friendly" army personnel on the street, get back to the 40degrees of bliss!!"yeh and so the internal battle raged as I meandered up the main drag of this pea sized Tibetan town looking for my hostel. I must have looked either well and truly lost or well and truly pissed off at the cold cause after about 5mins of walking and muttering to myself one of the (what seemed like hundreds), crimson clad monks came up to me and said (in Tibetan, much to my dismay) "Need a hand? you look lost" with one of those massive, yellow and toothy grins so many of the monks have up there. When I responded in Chinese with, "I've no idea what you said, but do you know where this hostel is?" it was all good, we walked up the street talking about the area, the monks here, how they spend their days and what on earth I was doing in this little place and not Tibet proper. Got to the hostel, said our goodbyes and checked in.
So I know I've already said it but it was soooooo cold! After the epic, 49hr-hard-seat quest for the town of Xia'he (as I so fondly (not) think of it) all my brain was saying was:
Hot shower, pyjamas, bed. Hot shower, pyjamas, bed. HOT SHOWER, PYJAMAS, BED!!
Demanding little bastard isn't it? So I caved, had a hot shower, got trapped in the shower because moron me had to pick the on stall that DIDN'T have a inside door-handle, so there is me, out of a shower, wet hair freezing cold saying "hello....? is anyone there? can you push open the door to the end shower please??" not cool... eventually was let out, much to the amusement of the guy that ran the hostel, gave me extra blankets and coffee to appease my freezing plight. lol. and then BED! Now, I don't know how many of you have ever been in a hard-seat train for 49-odd hours with a massively fat Chinese man snoring on your shoulder for a good 10 of those hours whilst you, in utter and sheer terror, try to shove him off and shove massive wads of tissues on your shoulder at the same time, to stop said fat man from DRIBBLING on your shoulder. But it's definitely not nice. So a soft, warm, HORIZONTAL bed was just utter bliss. No fat men dribbling on you (however I did wake several times to ultra-consciously shove rolled up tissues on my shoulder... mentally scarred from that one) just blankets and a pillow. mmmmm..... bed.
Following day woke up at some crazy-insane hour, like 5am. With nothing better to do, I went out to the lobby to read my Lonely Planet (aka my pet blue brick) for a while. When the owner (the guy who rescued me from the prison of the shower the night previous) suggested I start the day like many of the locals and walk the Kora path around the Monastery (3km). So walk I did. Dug out my jumper and strolled around the Monastery listening to the river bubble over rocks, birds sing (something I haven't heard in MONTHS), squeaky prayer wheels turning and the devout mumbling their monotone prayers.
Looking over to my left I spied a nice little hill which would let me look over the whole of the Monastery complex. So up I climbed with my little bag of local bread I decided it would be a good place to have some breakfast, good view, peaceful and sunny... mmmm sun So sitting up there all by my lonesome and some company in the form of two white billy goats meandered over to see who the foreign body was and if they had anything worth eating. So, they could smell the bread. Came over, munched the bread (which was good 'cause it was absolutely awful!) then progressed to sniff me to see if I was holding back. They seemed to think that my camera was ediable 'cause the next thing I knew they were eyeing it up and lining up for a nibble... cheeky little buggers..
so walked the Kora, bought bus tickets to Lang Musi (郎木寺）on the Gansu, Sichuan border and chilled for the remainder of the day. Now I should point out that by this stage I was feeling massively home-sick and all I was thinking was "Minzhong, must get to Minzhong. Melbourne; t-minus 24 days... hang on, I don't even remember what Melbourne is like anymore, oh ohhhh.... I can't even picture being back in Australia..!!!" so with this little thought pattern going on I guess you can figure out for yourself how lost I was feeling. Got back to the hostel, had dinner by myself and talked to mum, dad, maggot and Yang. Felt a bit better after that. Then spent the next hour or so talking to the guy that owned the joint (no I never got his name.. how rude of me) about everything from the region's history, Tibetan culture (Han Chinese here are as rare as crazy ass white girls) and what I was doing in China, where I'd been and where I was going. (seems that everyone asks that last one..)
Following day I left for my 4day bus hopping trip to Chengdu (via the border towns of Lang Musi and Zoige then down to Songpan). I didn't stay in any of these places for more than one day cause all I could think was; "Minzhong, must get to Minzhong. Melbourne". Got to Chengdu (finally) and thoughts eased up a little. Bought train tickets to Kunming for the 10th September. So I had a week to kill in Chengdu (again lol) in the absolutely VILE humidity of Chengdu. (think rainstorm wet, like 99% humidity... worse than Nanning ewwwwwwwww) So, next day I went out to Pingle (平乐）a supposedly "ancient" town. Ancient my ass. lol, but it was nice nonetheless, spent the afternoon beside the river with a glass of floral tea watching kids play in the river, attempting to drown one another with water cannons, listening to old men play majhong (click, click, click, laughter at superior move.. go old men lol). Back to Chengdu for the night.
Following day, I checked out and went to Langzhong (阆中). Another "ancient" town.. you would think I'd know better hey? But got there and was pleasantly surprised. It was in fact an ancient town. Very old (as were the inhabitants). Spent the following two nights in a 500 year old court yard home that was well and truly feng-shui-afied. hehehe absolutely wreaked of Pine sapp and omg there was AC thank god for that 'cause it was more humid than Chengdu (which was 5hrs west of me and Chiongqing was 5hrs to my east). Nice place, of course beside a kick ass river (I believe it was the yellow river actually). Check it: