A Travellerspoint blog

China

A Soft day in China

Yesterday, I stayed sort of loIMG_0302.jpgIMG_0305.jpgIMG_0314.jpgcal. I was tired-but got up early and had a beverage that is available all over China to wake me up-yes, Starbucks. I don't go to Starbucks regularly back home-as their coffee is too expensive to make a habit out of it, but once in a while Starbucks is delicious. And they are all over China.

After Starbucks, i started the day by going to the Chengdu Museum. While there was a long line to get in, the museum itself was pretty interesting and it was free. There we're all sorts of artifacts from the different dynasties, and more importantly, I learned that the Qing Dynasty ended in 1911, and that was the final Dynasty, when China became the Republic of China. I saw a lot of pottery and sculptures. I am not sure why it was interesting-but somehow I thought it was. I am sort of OCD when it comes to facts-and I wanted to get the history straightened out. I also learned that Chengdu, and the Sichuan province which it is located, started a rebellion against the nation, as the local railroad was owned by the people, and the government sold it to foreign lenders, which led to rebellion.

After a few hours at the museum, I took a long walk to some camera shops (I found them because of the map given to me from the hostel), and bought a new filter for my camera.

Then I took another long walk in a different direction, and went to a large Bamboo park, with beautiful buildings and structures. There was bamboo growing all around, bamboo chairs, and people playing. It was actually two adjoining parks, and I spent a bunch of time relaxing. I then went back to the hostel.
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Posted by DavidPearlman 16:13 Archived in China Comments (0)

Stop! It's Pandatime

Yesterday, I got up early and went on a trip through the hostel to do that typical China thing-see the pandas. The 1/2 hour excursion took 7 of us from the hostel, and 3 from another hostel, to the Chengdu Panda Research Base, where pandas are bread and researched. The place is like Jurassic World for pandas. First we saw black swans, which are indigenous to China, and noted for their beauty
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Happy visitors (mainly domestic visitors) wear panda hats and pins. There was a panda cafe, and a panda shuttle to take folks back and forth through the park. We saw the huge black and white pandas, from smaller ones (who are still large) to big ones. We also saw cute read pandas, which are endangered. The park was mobbed, mostly with Chinese tourists, once again, but the pandas we're cute and funny.
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That was the morning tour-after that, we all got back in the bus, and went to the Big Buddha in Leshan, the tallest stone Buddha in the world. This entailed a two hour bus ride through traffic (which I slept). First of all, the tour driver brought us for lunch at a restaurant, (of course we had to pay). We had good Chinese food while he stood over us. (He did have to interpret, since the menu was in Chinese)
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Then, we got on a boat, rode about 10 minutes to the other side of the river.and saw the big Buddha, cut in the rock. We had the option of hiking down the side of the Buddha, but decided to take the boat-which was fine. The Buddha was impressive.

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At the end of the day, it was another 2 1/2 hour ride through traffic back to the city. I was tired but looked in the various shops.

Posted by DavidPearlman 16:53 Archived in China Comments (0)

Lazy Changdu

Yesterday I left relatively early to do some other sightseeing in Changdu, using a map from the hostel. One of the first places listed was a giant panda, whose butt is shown staring down into the street, and whose face is shown climbing into a tall building. So being that this was close to the hostel, I walked a few blocks away and saw the panda and posed with the panda.
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Next, I walked about 15 blocks over to the Wenshu Buddhist monastery, another place on the map. I had a big buffet lunch at the vegetarian restaurant on campus. although the monastery was beautiful, i have seen a lot of them over the next few weeks. But it was beautiful, although i am still confused by which Buddhas are displayed. I planned on staying for an hour and then taking the metro back to the hostel, and resting the rest of the day, but I stayed for a few hours. It was very relaxing sitting there and watching the world go by. I went to the nunnery next door, and saw the nuns run to service when the bell started the ringing. The nuns look very much like the monks-their heads are shaved, and they wear what looks like something very similar.
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I went back to the hostel-I wanted an ice cream, I saw a man and women fight outside Mcdonalds-an old man and a younger women. They we're literally fighting. Perhaps the woman was a prostitute-she had a short skirt on and a leopard top on. Had to do something with her motorcycle I think. buddha4.jpg

and made it back around 5:00 pm. It appears the VPN I purchased stopped working, but the hostel has it's own VPN so that it what I am using. Later on we had a hotpot at the hostel, where we dropped mushrooms, potatoes, lettuce, and other types of vegetables down to eat. it was very good.

Posted by DavidPearlman 15:10 Archived in China Comments (0)

Either the busy season, or not the busy season in Changdu

Yesterday, I woke up early as per usual to look at other tours for later on in the trip. When tour was a cruise through the Yangzi river, which is advertised as a tour that hostel provides. When I asked about it, the hostel clerk (there are three people who look very similar-all with short hair and glasses) called another number. And told me to wait 1/2 an hour. He said that English speaking tours don't start until May, but a Chinese-speaking tour starts next week, at a fraction of the price. I asked him about that. He called the number again. First he said it was 4 days. Than he said it was three days. First he said the meals we're included. Than he said the meals weren't included. First he said it was a private room-than he said it was a dorm room. He said that the river cruises we're hard to get because it was the busy season. I also asked about other tours, including a walking tour that was listed-not enough people signed up. A food tour-not enough people signed up. This was because it was the slow season for the hostel. So I am blocked out because it is both the busy and slow season. Tomorrow, i am going to the panda sanctuary, which will be nice. (I was supposed to go today, but once again, not enough people). In the meanwhile, I purchased a Virtual Private Network-so i go back to Facebook and at least back up my photos. It was nice without social media for a while, but it is nice with it, plus I can back stuff up.

So after the hostel guy made multiple calls and had me wait-it wasn't until nearly 11:00 am that I finally was able to leave the hostel. The weather here is hot, which is nice, because I can wear shorts and have the laundry wash my pants. I took a walk using the map given to me. I walked about 5 blocks west to a giant statue of Mao, which was position with flowers, and was quite nice. Then I walked a few blocks more to The People's Park. This was a huge park, with 2 large tea rooms, and plenty of gardens. I walked through the park. What was most stunning was all of the activities going on. Folks we're playing board games. More than this, a lot of people we're performing. Some we're dancing (as couples) to recorded music. Others had elaborate dance routines and we're performing.90_IMG_3154.jpgIMG_3174.jpgIMG_3178.jpgIMG_3183.jpg

One routine that had me spell bound was a bunch of singers and dancers performing for a crowd. One looked like a Chinese Don Adams. They performed all sorts of songs and dances, and sounded pretty good. If you liked these people, you took a particular song/dance performed, you took a fake flower , and put it into a bucket on stage, in which the announcer would thank you-or say "Chea Chea" thanks in Chinese.
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I actually positioned myself on the floor, in front of all these Chinese elderly ladies in chairs, and they actually cheered for me for some reason.
it was entertaining, and I stayed there for 1/2 an hour or so-until another Chinese lady got annoyed at me for some reason. I walked out, and took a long walk to a shopping mall on the map given from the hostel. I found a huge bookstore, with some books in English, so I looked at them.IMG_3212.jpg

Then I walked to the riverfront, and by the time I made it back to the hostel it was around 11:00 pm.

Posted by DavidPearlman 16:56 Archived in China Comments (0)

Train to Changu No Tibettin

Yesterday, I checked out of the hostel in Xi'an. I liked Xi'an-it was a nice city, with the wall around Xi'an. I liked the hostel as well-the folks there we're friendly, there was a nice common area, and I had a good time. But I only have a 30 day visa-so it was time to move on, plus i think I have seen the city.

So I left the hostel early for my 11:05 train-a 4 hour trip on the fast train to Changdu. (Previously the trip was 16 hours-this line just opened December 2017), and was about $41.00 which isn't too bad. I was looking forward to Changdu, and going to the panda sanctuary. Once again, I arrived at a giant rail station that looks like it can accommodate a few Grand Central Terminals. I arrived early so had breakfast. Most of the restaurants just served Chinese breakfasts, which are noodles and similar food as lunch, dinner. There was a Mcexception of course, and that is where I went for the big breakfast(the server has devil horns for some reason).
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The scenery was similar to the other train ride-some country, quite a few cities with high rises under construction, nuclear power plants, etc. The train was fast, and the smell was kind of...foul. People like to bring their own types of food on board, and all of the Chinese dishes just makes a funky smell on the train.
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I went to the hostel, which was one of the least expensive in town, roughly about $6.00- per night. I also liked this one because Tibet tours we're offered. So I found the hostel without much issue, using their directions from the high speed train station to the metro. The promise on Hostelworld is because they are combined with two other hostels, there is always demand for their tours and they always go on.

So when I checked in, I asked about the Tibet tours, and was told there are 4, 5 and 6 day tours, and the Visa takes 5 days, and the soonest I can go out would be on the 25, which would be pushing it. (since Visa is only 30 days-and I haven't yet been to Beijing and other parts of China). The total cost was roughly $500 plus airfare for the 4 day package-which would be almost $900-expensive but I don't know if I will ever be this way again. So being that I haven't eaten since this morning, and it was around 4:00 pm. I told the hostel desk clerk that i would like to sign up for the tour on the 25th. He made several phone calls, which of course I had no idea what he was saying. He then asked if I wanted a private tour for around the same price-i was hesitant. I was more interested in a group tour, as I liked meeting people-but he said no group tour was available. I asked if anyone from the other hostels was interested in going-he said no-because it is off season. So I reluctantly agreed for the 25th.

It was then the hostel guy said the 26th would be a better date-since the Tibet paperwork may take longer. At that point, I decided to put this whole thing off-China is a big country-and 30 days isn't a long time-I already have used 1/3 of that time, and didn't want to work around a date 8 days in the future.

So I gave up-it was dumpling time at the hostel. About 15 of us gathered around a table, and showed us how to make dumplings-basically raviolis with some filling inside, (we used vegetables). This involved kneeding the dough, smoothing it out, adding flour to make it more pliable, and then putting the filling in, and putting the whole thing in my left hand and gently pinching it. Mine turned into more of a mess. The good news is the non-Chinese at the table (roughly 1/2 of us), seemed to make similar messes.

After that, I had a beer-went out for desert (some strawberries and mandarins from fruit vendors), and went back to bed.

Posted by DavidPearlman 16:32 Archived in China Comments (0)

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