Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Terracotta worriers

Wu Dang Shan

Wu Dang Shan was a happy place. It was much cooler and full of beautiful things and it was where Jackie Chan filmed the Karate Kid.

I think the photos go: Gertie in the hotel in Yi Chang.
Gertie in the car park at the bottom of Wu Dang Shan (she was not allowed to come up the hill with us and we missed her - especially when the Chinese bus drivers tried to kill us on the hair pin roads on the way up (and I hit my head on the buses about eight times because I am clumsy and too tall for this country).
Sign for the Toiret (that one's for you, Drew).
A shot of the martial arts school (which was probably my favourite part of this leg of the trip).
Me knitting in the, um, Purple something temple heaven thing.
Cute chair carrying
The place where the scene with the cobra was filmed in Karate Kid (it was on CCTV 6 the other night, most of us watched it).

Three Gorges Dam Theme Park

If you are in China and you need a toilet, the ones in the Three Gorges Dam memorial thing are second only to the ones hidden deep in the heart of the Shi Lin forest. The toilets have been getting better as we head north, and part of me is sad I am not heading to Beijing with the others (plus, they get to ride ponies in inner Mongolia, the b&st&rds). 

I think these photos are the triffid things in Three Gorges Dam memorial. The dam. Another sign for Morag. A mountain somewhere. Around the corner from the hotel in Yi Chang. And a church in Yi Chang.

Three Gorges Dam photos

This is our boat and the dam and the rain that dogged us for most of the journey and the sunshine and dragon boats on the last morning.

O! God! I have the Internet!

I don't remember what I last posted. Have you seen the pandas? Did I show you the pandas? Did I mention the tai chi students at Wu Dang Shan?

We are in Xi'an and I am in a welter of upset and separation anxiety. People are flying home. Gertie and Mick and Gaetano are going on to Beijing. I am changing trucks and will be going with Asima and Al and Juan. Will I ever love Asima as much as I love Gertie? Prepare yourself for several Gertie photos in the next post or so. Claire has already flown on to Beijing and after tomorrow Julia will go with Gertie.

Last night was super fun. We all went out for drinks after dinner in the Muslim Quarter and ended up having the kinds of conversations you can only have when you have shared a month and a half of travelling. The type of conversations I couldn't have in front of my mother (sorry mum).

We ended up eating baozi from the man with the baozi cart outside the hotel at 2 in the morning. He accidentally set his cart on fire but it was all okay because we shouted to him until he came back and put it out. Orla and I were the last (wo)men standing and we couldn't go home because he'd asked us if we'd mind the stall for him while he went off on his motor bike. That was fine until three Chinese young people came up and wanted baozi. So I got up to serve them.

I have included some photos of Chongqing. They are old buildings and a woman using a whatsit.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Three Gorges Dam is giving me existential angst

We cruise along between hills that have not got used to the idea they a not mountans anymore. We look into the murky water and think of all the homes and towns and cemeteries and sewerage plants that are down there.

Our ship is a Chinese tourist one, not a Westerm tourist one and is full of shouting smoking drinking fat Chinese men with no shirts on. There have ben plenty of tours off the boat, but it has been raning solidly. Apparently the Beijing subway has flooded.

Partly I have loved that my only two options have been sleeping or reading. It has helped me catch up on myself without feeling guilty that I should be out seeing things. Partly it has involved enduring three days sharig a small cabin with thee other girls,narrow bunks and second-hand cigarete smoke coming in through the ventilation system.

Monday, 20 June 2011


This city is gobsmacking. Old old buildings next to new buildings next to communist buildings next to old buildings. burnt out husks of buildings. Buildings being torn down.

We came in in the evening with terrible traffic and saw an amusement park and twin golden Chrysler buildings and the meeting of the rivers and little houses on stilts climbing up the mountainside.

When the sun went down the city lit up in neon and all the people came out to dance and cook food in the street. We went to Carrefour to get snacks for the boat tomorrow and on the way back stopped at a little hole in the wall food place to eat. We had wonton soup with sea weed because the cute boy with no shirt told me it was hen hao chi.

I am feeling a deep reluctance to be stuck on a boat for three nights.

Chengdu Pandas part 2

I found that I loved the red pandas just as much as the giant pandas, but the only one that I could get a decent shot of was the mangy terrifying one that was missing half its hair. Apart from that one, they have really sweet faces and bushy tails and (in spite of having learned from Australian possums that sweet faces and bushy tails come with sharp claws and an inclination to rip your face off) I wanted to pick one up and cuddle it.

I have again been an even worse tourist in Chengdu than I was in Emeishan. The only things I have done of note are: go and drink chrysanthemum tea, go and eat pizza, go and buy bread and tea from Carrefour, go and eat rare steak. There has been a sweet little drama llama on the tour this last while (cf. above comment about bushy tails and faces being ripped off) and some recovery time was needed.

Also, as one of the girls pointed out, I've 'done' Chengdu with my mum not three years ago. I partly wanted to go back and do all the things that we did and I partly just missed my mum.

Chongqing next, and then onto a boat for three nights on the Yangtze river. I have even more reservations about that than the pandas. Not because I don't like boats (I do), not because three nights trapped in a small place with all the people bothers me that much (it does), but because I have heard rumours of all-night karaoke...

Chengdu Panda breeding centre part 1

I feel like I have to apologise to Chengdu Panda breeding centre in my head. The last time I was here (with my mum) I didn't want to go because I have had some bad experiences with China's zoos in the past. This time I kind of caved to peer pressure and went and loved it.

I didn't get any of the amazing shots of the pandas that some people did, being a bit of a cameranoob, but you will get the idea. It was pretty awesome to see the cubs frolicking and the adults sitting back and chowing down on bamboo. And the whole complex was quite lovely. I got so carried away that I nearly paid 1000 yuan to have my picture taken with a baby panda, but frugalled out in the queue to go in.

The point is the panda breeding centre is not related to Chinese zoos in the 'oh my god get me out of here now' sense and, if you find yourself in Chengdu, you should pop along if you get the chance.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Giant Buddha at Leshan

We didn't make it to Leshan because of the breakdowns (and apparently there were demonstrations as well) but we did go to the Giant Buddha near Leshan on the way to Chengdu.

He was a buddha, he was very big, there were loads of tourists.

There was also a dragon. They come in from the sea.

Thursday, 16 June 2011


I spent a great deal of today in bed (I know, I know, I'm a crappy tourist) so I only have pictures from yesterday.

So if I have these ones in the right order, it is me standing awkwardly with a monk. He was a tourist monk at Crouching Tiger monastery. He was taking pictures of things and turned to surreptitiously take a picture of Julia and me. So I put my arm around Julia and made the universal sign of being in a photograph. 

Then I asked to have my photo taken with him. I am standing awkwardly because I am trying not to touch him. When he asked for a photo with me, I relaxed (though was still careful).

On the way home from FuHu monastery we walked along a scenic path rather than braving the road a second time. We accidentally walked through a film being made (and I asked one of the girls not in the scene if I could take her photo.

Then we walked past something that looked rather like a set from Jurassic Park where that guy got eaten (I know, it doesn't narrow it down).

And finally a scenic butterfly.