A Travellerspoint blog

January 2014

Crazy long hike

Some people staying at the hotel started banging on a door and yelling at the people inside to wake up, I presume. It went on for at least 30 minutes! On top of that, there was also a small child screaming their head off, running up and down the hall. So, I had to get up and sadly tackle this huge mountain with about three hours of sleep. Lucky for me, I slept on the bed bus.

My camera was only at the half battery, so I didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked to. However, that means I only took pictures of the most astounding things, including the Purple Cloud temple and the Golden temple.

In the morning, I wasted a lot of time wandering around the city looking for the bus station because I wanted to buy my ticket home. I didn't want to get stranded there! However, I never did find it and I was so frustrated I seriously wanted to cry.

I gave up and went back to buy my ticket to go up the mountain. It includes a 45 minute bus ride, where you can start your ascent, or take another bus up another 20 minutes and take a cable car. I thought I'd take the cable car down, but I definitely wanted to climb the ancient track up the mountain all by myself!

I had some kind of Chinese fast food meal in the cheesy tourist town and then got on the bus.

I took the bus up to the second last stop, which is the Purple Cloud temple. It is the best preserved on the mountain so it's worth the peek into the past. All the temples were built in the early 15th century. Holy crap, old right?!?! I love it. At the end of the winding bus ride, it's kind of bewildering to figure out where to go. There are people selling you things and hotels everywhere you look. The entrance to the trail is not marked and so it's confusing. I have learned that in China, when you are trying to find a famous "scenic spot", just follow everyone else and you will find it.

As the hike went on, I got extremely hot. I thought the mountain would be windy and freezing cold, but it was actually sunny and nice. I had on three shirts, two pants, two socks, big hat and jacket! My guidebook also told me to bring an umbrella so I had to carry all these unnecessary clothes and things all the way up and down with me.

I made a photographer friend who kind of spoke English at the beginning of the walk, but then when he took the easy route to the top, we parted ways. However, we met again at the top! Even though I took the tougher way, I made it up as fast as he did. He told me he stopped a lot to take a lot of pictures. Yah right!

The climb was SO intense. In the book they say a lot of old people do this climb. But I only saw really fit people and a COUPLE of kids doing it really slowly with their parents. The old people all take the cable car. I don't think I have ever climbed so many stairs in my life.

At the top, it's all worth it of course. You can look down at the tops of other REALLY TALL mountains and know that you are way higher than all of them! It's crazy. I don't know how I did that all in less than three hours.

I thought about taking the cable car down, but I had a lot of time before sunset so I thought, why not just go down the stairs on the other side? No one seems to climb or descend these stairs, so I had the whole mountain mostly to myself. It was great! I drank the rest of my water, then bought a milk tea for a treat and made my way down the mountain in under an hour.

The bus ride back from the bottom of the stairs was longgggggg, so I did some thinking about what I should do tonight. I definitely did not want to stay at that hotel again, even though I paid for it. So, I decided I would demand a refund! When I got home, I translated "I do not want to sleep here tonight. Please give me 250 yuan back." At first they said no, but then I just stood there looking confused and then they gave me 220 yuan back for a late checkout fee. OK fine. As soon as I walked out the door, I saw the bus going to Shiyan, which has a busy train station. I ran to the bus and never looked back!

I was a little nervous about buying a ticket during spring festival with no notice, because of my experience trying to get to Wudang Shan. I thought the train would be full because the lady in Changsha was shaking her head at me so fervently. However, it was not. She probably just didn't want to deal with me. In contrast, the man who sold me a ticket in Shiyan was so excited to speak English and so friendly!

There were two hours before the train departed, so I went and got some awesome rice bowl thingy and a giant beer. Because I deserved it, you know. I spent some time planning my trip down the Yangzi when I get back to China in February. It all came together nicely.

I had two seats to myself the whole 11 hour journey home and slept as much as I could, arriving back home at 9 a.m. Ready for more sleep and with throbbing, sore, painful, horrible legs.

Purple Cloud temple

Purple Cloud temple


Purple Cloud temple

Purple Cloud temple


Me vs. Purple Cloud temple

Me vs. Purple Cloud temple


Purple Cloud temple

Purple Cloud temple


Purple Cloud temple

Purple Cloud temple


Purple Cloud temple

Purple Cloud temple


Purple Cloud temple

Purple Cloud temple


Some stairs and snow

Some stairs and snow


More stairs

More stairs


I climbed up all those stairs!

I climbed up all those stairs!


Little guys on the roof

Little guys on the roof


Roofs

Roofs


Me vs. the golden temple

Me vs. the golden temple


View from the top

View from the top


View from the top

View from the top


View from the top

View from the top


Me vs. Wudang Shan

Me vs. Wudang Shan


The forbidden city

The forbidden city


More little guys

More little guys


The forbidden city

The forbidden city


On the way down

On the way down


On the way down (Jade temple)

On the way down (Jade temple)


Finished! Freezing!

Finished! Freezing!


Massive dinner before the train home

Massive dinner before the train home

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Bed bus ride!

This weekend started off different than others, because I had to do a lot of research to figure out how to get to Wudang. At first I attempted to buy a train ticket and showed the ticket lady the Chinese letters for Wudang. She just shook her head. Then, I showed her the Chinese letters for Shiyan. Again, she shook her head. I'm going to tell myself all the trains were absolutely full, because of Spring festival, and not just because she didn't want to deal with me. Later, I found out the train was pretty much empty.

So, it would be a bus then. I looked up the bus schedule (which is all in Chinese) and translated Wudang in Google translate. There it was, one bus a day. I knew it would also fill up, so I went all the way to the west bus station (which takes at least an hour) on a Monday night and bought my ticket for Friday. At first, they also shook their head at me, but I wisely had brought a screen print of the schedule and the ticket lady reluctantly sold it to me. Lesson: Never take no for an answer and always bring proof!

On Friday, my bus left at 3 p.m. and I got there just in time. The bus station was completely full of people, going home for the holidays, I'm assuming. I went immediately to the bus they pointed me to and to my astonishment and surprise....it was a BED BUS!

The moment I had been waiting for was here. I had seen these bed buses and always wanted to ride in one. I knew it was only a matter of time before I went on a trip long enough! I climbed onto the bus, amidst elbowing peasants and crying babies, but didn't take off my shoes and got yelled at by the bus driver. Really! You have to put your shoes in a little plastic bag before you get onto the bed bus. Another lesson learned!

So I excitedly climbed into my barely padded bed with flat pillow and musty blanket and fell right asleep. Every couple hours however, my feet fell asleep or my bum got really cold from pushing up against the window. Your feet are encased in a metal box, because your bag has to sit on a rack on top of your feet (this is why my feet fell asleep a lot). So, I'd have to re-position myself and fall back asleep again. They played a bunch of Chinese movies, which I ignored and then at 1 a.m. they dropped me off on the side of the highway... Yep... Luckily there was a hotel right there, and I was so tired I paid for two nights on the spot. Big mistake.

The room was nice, but even though the heat was cranked, it all went out the poorly insulated window. I was freezing and probably got about three hours of sleep... click next entry for why!

The bed bus!

The bed bus!


Bus station chaos

Bus station chaos


Bus station chaos

Bus station chaos


Me vs. bed bus

Me vs. bed bus

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Walking around Wuhan

There's some semi-old architecture in Wuhan. Most of it was destroyed in the early 20th century, but some of the buildings from the 1920s and up are nice. So I visited some of the places in my guidebook. I walked all the way from one end of the city to the other, where I had to catch my train.

There is a HUGE bridge that crosses the Yangzi River, which I had to take a 40 cent elevator up to just to cross it. Wow!

I think my map of Wuhan is old, because I got SUPER lost trying to find the train station in Wuchang. Finally I saw some African medical students, who helped me get there. I was walking in the wrong direction.

Me and Ye on brand new subway

Me and Ye on brand new subway


Old train station

Old train station


Old train station

Old train station


Old bank

Old bank


Old Russian church

Old Russian church


Old bank

Old bank


Old bank

Old bank


Old bank

Old bank


A restaurant has some peacocks

A restaurant has some peacocks


18th tallest building in the world!

18th tallest building in the world!


18th tallest building in the world!

18th tallest building in the world!


First big bridge over the Han River

First big bridge over the Han River


On the bridge

On the bridge


On the bridge

On the bridge


Me on the big bridge

Me on the big bridge


Yellow Crane Tower

Yellow Crane Tower


1911 Revolution Memorial

1911 Revolution Memorial


1911 Revolution Memorial

1911 Revolution Memorial


1911 Revolution Memorial

1911 Revolution Memorial


1911 Revolution Memorial

1911 Revolution Memorial


1911 Revolution Memorial

1911 Revolution Memorial

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Hubei museum and temples

In the morning, Ye took me to try a Wuhan specialty, "hot dry noodles". It tastes like regular noodles, except with tons of sesame seed sauce. Loved it. There was also some hot egg/rice wine mixture to drink. Delicious breakfast!

At the museum we watched a performance on some ancient bells and then saw the tomb of a really rich man from about BC 400. It was really well preserved and worth the trip, I thought.

Next we had lunch at a vegetarian restaurant inside the Changchun temple. We walked around there and then traveled to the Guiyuan temple, where there was a room full of literally 500 golden Buddhist saints. Amazing!

We were tired, so after that we went to sleep. I didn't really wake up until the morning. I slept about 12 hours. I must have needed it...

Guiyuan temple

Guiyuan temple


Dry hot noodles

Dry hot noodles


Me vs. dry hot noodles

Me vs. dry hot noodles


Egg/wine stuff

Egg/wine stuff


Hubei museum

Hubei museum


Tomb of Zenghouyi

Tomb of Zenghouyi


Crane/elk thing buried in the tomb

Crane/elk thing buried in the tomb


Cool way to display arrowheads

Cool way to display arrowheads


Ye and "mutton" soup

Ye and "mutton" soup


Me vs. baoze

Me vs. baoze


Changchun temple

Changchun temple


Changchun temple

Changchun temple


Changchun temple

Changchun temple


Changchun temple

Changchun temple


Changchun temple

Changchun temple


Changchun temple

Changchun temple


Guiyuan temple

Guiyuan temple


Guiyuan temple

Guiyuan temple

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Couchsurfing in Wuhan

I went to Wuhan by train on Friday night. I didn't book anything because I was just plain lazy, and I had to sit on the floor. It was awful. I sat down beside a young teenage boy and then his mother came and suddenly sat down on my feet. There was no way I was going to be sticking out into the aisle, so I tried to maneuver her into the aisle the whole way there.

So, I was a little grumpy when I showed up at the train station and couldn't find the spot where I was supposed to meet Ye, my couchsurfing host. After about an hour of confusion, we finally found each other and then went straight home to bed.

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

The story of buying a bike from a crazy person

1. My beautiful bike was stolen outside of Metro supermarket, while I was shopping on the day before Christmas Eve. I had bought this bike from someone on the expat Facebook group, so I thought I'd try again to get my new bike there.

2. I posted on the Changsha Facebook group, looking for anyone selling their bike in the near future.

3. An Egyptian guy offers me his green foldable bike. We talk about it and he agrees to sell it for 400 yuan

4. When I go to pick it up he actually charges me 530 yuan "because there are lots of attachments"... OK whatever... he also says "I don't really want to sell this bike, I'm doing you a favour".... OK also whatever.

5. As I was riding the bike home, I found I couldn't get up the hills because the bottom gears were crazily slipping

6. The next day (Christmas Day) the Egyptian guy asks "How's the bike?" 7. I'm at work and busy, so I quickly send him a message back. I'm not going to lie about it so he feels like he did me a favour, because he didn't. I say, "It kinda sucks, it's not worth 530 yuan"

8. His wife starts emailing me, telling me her husband will come over and fix it. I think this is strange and am abrupt with her, telling her that won't be necessary. It's kind of weird that she feels like she has to get involved, isn't it?

9. Christmas Day night: Guy drops off all the money, not to me, but to the guard at the apartment: all 530 yuan. There is a three page rambling letter about nothing and it's pretty creepy and weird.

10. I am freaked out, ignore it, maybe it'll go away. Not sure what to do with the money or the bike. I thought he meant for me to keep it until I leave Changsha. Which would have been really unnecessarily nice.

11. Yesterday he called me "IS THIS A NORMAL THING TO DO? JUST KEEP MY MONEY LIKE THIS?" "Honestly, you're scaring me. I don't know what to do with this money and the three page letter you wrote" "I GAVE YOU TWO WEEKS TO BUY A NEW BIKE!" "uh... i just didn't think it was worth 500, I don't want a new bike..." "SO WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH MY MONEY?" "uh... i'm not sure, you gave it back to me" "WELL I WANT EITHER THE BIKE OR THE MONEY BACK" "OK... I don't want to see you again, so I'll put the money in an envelope with the guard at the front gate" "FINE GOOD!" Ohhhhhhhhkayyyyyyyyy

12. So I put what i think the bike is worth... 400 yuan and then block him from Facebook but I forgot about his wife

13. Just now i got a message from his wife:

You still owe us 130 yuan. If you believed in God,if you had faith,you wouldn't have done this. For sure, God is not happy about your actions...He is the only one who can see REAL good and REAL bad people. Now we knew who you are...In case if you know what remorse is,this is our bank account in the Bank of China: 4563 5175 0002 2811 812 We will never contact you anymore because remembering you brings us sadness.

And that would be the end of the story hopefully.

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Noodles at the market

I woke up early and went down to the bus station just to make sure I could get on the bus. It turned out I could, and there was a big market right next door, so I wandered around there for two hours and got some amazing noodles from one of the vendors. It was pretty cold so I sat down at their table, which was covered with a thick blanket and had some raw burning coal underneath to keep your legs warm. I stayed there as long as I could and then hopped the bus back home (which had children rolling around on the floor all the way because it was overbooked). Partly my fault. The bus station manager wasn't expecting me back until Monday morning. Ooops.

ZOMG noodles!

ZOMG noodles!


Charcoal under the table

Charcoal under the table


Lady cooking noodles

Lady cooking noodles

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Furongzhen doesn't have any tofu

So I got to Furongzhen in the late afternoon and explored what was there in a couple of hours. It was relatively the same feeling at Fenghuang except really run down and not as pretty. Probably because it was January and all the hibiscuses were dead.

I climbed to the top of the one hill in town and some kids followed me and tried to say something to me in Chinese.

This city was the scene of a famous movie called "Hibiscus Town" about a woman who is a capitalist and sells delicious tofu to the people who live there, defying the wishes of the communist leaders. All I wanted to do was eat some tofu in a bowl like in the movie, but I couldn't find any. I settled for tofu on a stick from a street vendor. Then, I found a cheap hotel on the way back to the bus station and stayed there for the night. Since nothing was really grabbing my attention here, I decided to take the bus in the morning back home.

Dead hibiscuses

Dead hibiscuses


Town square

Town square


Town square

Town square


Me vs. Furongzhen

Me vs. Furongzhen


Guy is drinking blood

Guy is drinking blood


The river is dried up

The river is dried up


Furongzhen

Furongzhen


Furongzhen sunset

Furongzhen sunset


Looks like Fenghuang but grosser

Looks like Fenghuang but grosser


Waterfall

Waterfall


From the top

From the top


From the top of Furongzhen

From the top of Furongzhen


Me vs. deep fried buns

Me vs. deep fried buns


60 RMB = $10 !

60 RMB = $10 !


60 RMB = $10 !

60 RMB = $10 !

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Attempting to buy a ticket to Furongzhen

After work today, I headed down to the train station to try and buy a ticket to Mengdonghe from where I could take a bus to Furongzhen. Or so my guidebook said.

The ticket lady said there was no train station to this place, so I went to the biggest bus station I knew, the south bus station. When I got there, they told me to go to the west bus station to get my ticket instead. This was an hour away by bus. At this point I was ready to give up my Furongzhen quest and just go to Wuhan for the weekend. She sold me a ticket to Wuhan which was supposed to leave in two hours.

Great, so I ate my lunch and waited for the bus. When the time came to get on the bus, I went to the right gate and a man there literally grabbed my ticket out of my hand, got a refund and then tried to push me onto a city bus that was going to the train station, because he thought I wanted to go to Wuhan. At this point I was really mad because he still had all my refund in his hand. Apparently they had just randomly decided not to send this bus to Wuhan and I had to get there some other way. I ripped my refund out of his hand and stormed off, on my way to the west bus station, where I should have gone initially.

When I finally got there, they said, yes there was a bus leaving tomorrow morning for Furongzhen. I bought it and went home to sleep.

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)