The Journey from Hell
Chengdu Travel Blog› entry 17 of 20 › view all entries
After a lot of faffing around we managed to buy a ticket leaving from Guangzhou to Chengdu. You need to go the 28th floor of the railway booking office in Hong Kong in order to do this, as none of the travel agents can do this for you. It is impossible to do this journey without staying one night in Guangzhou - what we didn't know was that there was a trade fair on in Guangzhou so all the accommodation was double the price. We manged to get a dorm room for 10 quid, very expensive for mainland china! We got our tomatoes confiscated when we entered into China, as no fruit or vegetables can cross the border - who knows why! In the morning there was the biggest spider I have ever seen hanging around in the bathroom - this thing was huge and at one point it was sitting right on the doorway out of the room. I was quite concerned I wouldn't be able to leave! Thankfully it toddled off and we made our way to station. After a lot of confusion and speaking to random english speakers on the phone which the train staff called for us, we found out our train had been canceled. We got a full refund and managed to book the train for the next day. Cue another search for accommodation, and a night in a pretty rough hotel for around 20 quid each.
We got on the train to Chengdu - leaving all our delicious western food in our hotel room by mistake. We weren't thrilled about the prospect of 24 hours or so without anything but rice to eat. We were also the only westerners on the whole train, we managed to attach ourselves to this lovely Nepalese guy whose english was spot on - and he spoke chinese! He helped us order food in the restaurant car, and we kept each other entertained. The train was 12 hours delayed, meaning we arrived after midnight, instead of arrived at 2pm in the afternoon. The whole journey took 40 hours! When we arrived at our hostel (around 1am), we also had to make our own beds. The "bed" was a piece of wood with a sheet over it - not pleasant for our first nights sleep!
Despite a slightly dodgy start - Chengdu was quite good. We went to see so many taoist temples. My knowledge of Taoism is very limited, but they have lots of very impressive statues of really angry looking asian men with flowing beards, standing on little green goblins or playing guitars. The highlight of any trip to Chengdu is going to the panda sanctuary - you have to go quite early in the morning as the pandas sleep most of the afternoon. We were lucky enough to see toddler panda feeding time, the staff treat them like human babies! The rest of the time in Chengdu we just relaxed - it was nice to be one place for an extended period of time instead of jetting about. We found this amazing cafe called Bookworm where you get the tastiest carrot cake - not a bad way to while away a rainy afternoon.