This weekend was ruined for three reasons 1. I had the old version of Lonely Planet and the whole city is different now. Seriously. 2. I paid a driver before he took me anywhere. 3. There were no trains going to Changsha anytime after 2 p.m. Friday night, I took the train to Yichang and got into town at around 1 a.m. Based on my map, I thought I had arrived right in the middle of the city. Little did I know that they recently built an entire brand new transportation complex with high/low speed train and long distance bus service in the extreme east end of town, where there is nothing around.
Basically I walked straight and then found a little old lady on the sidewalk who sold me a nice enough room for 50 yuan. She would not let me sleep, even though it was 2 a.m. She kept bringing people who spoke like two words of English, asked me how old I was and then didn't understand when I said "32". Ugh. Please! Sleep! Byebye! I shut the door and locked it.
In the morning, I guess she heard me moving around and she came to my room as soon as I woke up. I think she wanted me to take a taxi, but I wasn't really sure where I was going yet. I simply waved and walked away. I wandered around totally lost, not knowing I had an out of date map. The old train station was right downtown, and I couldn't figure out why I wasn't seeing any of the streets. Then, I figured I'd just walk to the river and find out what was going on when I got there. I got to the river and saw what looked like abandoned ferry terminals and other industrial type buildings. I knew I was totally wrong. I took the first bus and asked if they were going to Yunji Street, the street with CITS on it, the big travel agency in China. The alternative way of getting to the dam seemed complicated so I was going to just get on a tour.
On the way there, I happened to see the bus that I needed to get there on my own! I quickly jumped off my bus and got on that one. It took me to the edge of town, where I needed to wander through a dilapidated parking lot looking for "bus number 8". After asking about five people, I eventually found it.
An hour or so later, I was at the dam!
In the book it says to hire a driver to take you to the top. I did, and he promptly ripped me off. Ugh. Then, another woman accosted me and started grabbing at me to give her some money just to climb some stairs. There was no sign and no ticket so I just ripped my hand from out of her grip and ran away.
I got to the top and there was a big mountain in the way of the view of the back of the dam. Disappointed, I went down and then back up another mountain where finally I could see something.
It seemed like I got off at the wrong stop for the best views, but at this point, I was thoroughly over this trip. I just hopped on the bus and went back to town.
I found what I thought was the central train station, climbed up a gazillion stairs, then found it was closed. Irritated some more, I went to the bus station, where they didn't have any buses leaving for Changsha tonight. Ugh. I went to the train station, they had a train leaving at 3 a.m. It was 4 p.m. MORE UGH. So, I went back down to the river, got me some fresh Hunan style fish and noodles, red bean donuts and cracked a beer, watching some kids set off lanterns that floated into the night sky.
Since I had, I dunno six hours until the train left, I slowly but surely walked all the way back down the river. There is a really nice park there, but unfortunately they turned all the lights off at about 10 p.m. I just kept walking and made it back to the train station at 1 a.m. Two hours earlier than I needed to leave! I froze for an hour in the waiting area, then passed in and out of sleep all the way home.
Found the 8 bus!
This is the first mountain
Me vs. dam
Back part again
Me vs. dam
Three Gorges Dam
Maybe you can see it through the smog
Stairs to old railway station
Fish and noodles