Wednesday 21st October
Up about 6am, had broken sleep last night cos guy was snoring sooooo loudly, not even our ipod music could drown him out NIGHTMARE!! Not sure if it was the same guy or not, but he visited the loo while we was getting ready to leave and lets just say I don't think he was too well bless him, poor thing.
The driver was there waiting for us while we checked out, seemed like a nice guy. Took us to the jeep, very dirty but perfectly comfortably with its leather interiour NICE!! Beats the bus that's all I can say.
Was a little concerned as we headed off that no seatbelts were available, especially when within the first 10mins of driving he swerved out of the way of an ambulance which almost went into the side of us, Ad and I just glared at each other with horror on his faces, all I could do was let out a laugh of fear........
It turned out to be not so bad, I mean the roads were awful and I did come across my worst toilet yet on the way, but hey ho we did manage to get SOME sleep during our 10 hour trip. Saw loads of military vehicles passing, it caused a huge traffic jam, not sure what that was for, but a bit conerning especially seeing how many of them there actually was.
He stopped at a nice little town to get his jeep looked at and we found a nice restaurant to stop for lunch. Me being me and likeing surprises said to Ad "I know, lets just find something cheap on the menu and ask for it" The menu of course not having a word of english. Ad went along with this and let me choose bless him. Kinda wish I hadn't now, as we got a plate brought out to us of cooked chillies, now I know why the lady raised her eyebrows when we ordered and why all the staff found our order to be some what amusing. We ate most of them anyway and they didn't taste too strong so was pleased with that.
Back on the road, at one point our driver was trying to get us up a sand bank, wasn't sure why at first, but it was never gonna happen, the wheels just kept getting stuck. Of course Ad and I were having flash backs of our first holiday together in Fuerteventura, oh yes our first holiday and for those that don't know, the car we hired out was stuck in sand within 10mins of driving it. Such memories te he.
Turns out the driver was trying to avoid a 2 hour wait for some tunnel to open so we could cross. Not sure what had happened but from the hand gestures he was giving while trying to explain, it seemed like some of the tunnel was leaking or collapsing, didn't fill us with too much hope. Chatted to the driver as much as we could, using phrase books etc. Ad go out and took some pics etc, tried to waste the time while waiting in a queue of traffic.
When we finally got going again and entered the tunnel, it looked as though they were still working on it. Building work going on all around it and the inside just didn't look finished with leaks everywhere and gaps showing. Was glad to get through to the otherside. The rest of the journey was still bumpy as hell, but the scenery was gorgeous, lots of large hills around us and nice trees etc.
Arrived in Danba about 7pm, was already dark and the driver just stopped to one side and pointed behind him, we guessed the hostel was in that direction but couldn't understand a word he was trying to say, he managed to flag down what looked like a small local car and he offered to drive us there. The hostel was just around the corner and he tried to charge us a silly price, which we know was way too much for China, so didn't give it all to him, he went away eventually.
In the hostel they tried to charge us silly money as well until they realised we had already reserved a room from SIMS hostel at the proper prices and they shut up and showed us to our room, some areas will try anything to screw you over, but we are learning fast. As it happened the guy running the place was really nice and even took time to draw us some maps of directions we can go from here 1) for trekking in the local area and 2) for travelling to other towns on route, really nice of him. He recommended a Chinese restaurant over the road, so off we went for dinner.
I'm sure the food was nice, but after the prices they tried to charge us we walked out, it was stupid and the girl was soooo rude, saying if we wasn't happy we should leave and go somewhere else, that's exactly what we did do. Felt happy to as another couple of guys who were just finishing their meal, said it wasn't that great as they went for the cheapest option also, only one dish they could find on the menu. I swear they have seperate prices for westeners cos the Chinese in their seemed to have a feast of delicious looking dishes and I'm sure they wouldn't have paid these kinda prices.
Found another place down the road and just picked up the Chinese menu and pretended we knew what was on it, at least this way we know we are paying the same as them. Just had a random guess and picked two dishes to share. Turned out getting a Tomato and egg dish, what we had for brekky at SIMS, was really nice and a sweetcorn dish, deep fried - tasted like popcorn, was really YUMMY, good choices.
Full bellies we wandered back and spoke to some other fellow travellers in hostel, got some really good tips on places in the area. Something to sleep on.
Thursday 22nd October
Up about 9ish, slightly dodgy bellies, but happy to go for a walk. Strolled along to the nearest local Tibetan village. Saw some chinese guys walking the same way, also tourists, so followed them. We found a route down through a slightly wooded section to get to a very unsafe looking bridge, but once there, it looked ok to cross. The guys went first and they seemed fine, so followed them.
Some Chinese guy stopped chatting to them for a bit then they walked on, as we started to cross he approached us. Apparantly it was 60 yaun each to cross this bridge, even though a couple we spoke to yesterday said they crossed for free mmmmmmmm SOMEONE's trying to pull a fast one here. We turned to walk away and suddenly the price was dropped to 10 yaun each, REALLY, for taking pics, so we said we wouldn't take any and he chose to follow us ANNOYING, but he did give up after a while and followed the Chinese guys most the way and finally went away for good.
We took many pics and was really pleased we didn't turn back, it was a lovely quaint little village, spreading up the hillside. A few watch towers here and there and very view local villages going about their usual day. Mountain views in the distance with the river flowing through, was really nice. Quiet little place, with lots of farm animals, some pigs we came across sounded like they were in a pig chior, the noise was very strange, but made me chuckle. Dogs appeared all over, roaming around, hanging out of windows or in the gardens, along with cows, chickens etc etc. Many roof tops had lots of corn out in the sun to dry, was different to see.
We found the locals to be very friendly and very smiley, every time we passed they would wave and say hello, with big smiles. Supposedly they are more Tibetan than Chinese but live here for some reason, it's easier for them.
Mainly found dirt tracks between the houses, very few paved areas, I guess this is something they are working on as there seemed to be a fair bit of construction going on.
Was a much better experience than some of the places we have been, it was nice to see them in a normal living/working environment, instead of people dressed in traditional wear, just trying to put a show on for tourists, really enjoyed it. A lady came over with her little boy watching us strolling around, we'd walked as far as we could up one path and was just trying to find another way around. They looked fascinated to watch us, when we said hello, big smiles appeared on their faces, the boy seemed a little shy but he was sweet all the same.
Back to get details of buses for next journey, my belly was really bad now, so had a lie down while Ad sorted it all bless him, then managed to get out again, to trapse across town to the bus station, thought we'd found it, but the guy behind the desk just sat there ignoring us, then we looked to other side and saw it was a hotel reception, so continued up the road, only to be guided back to that same place. Turned out it was the bus station reception also, I guess he just couldn't be bothered to assist us. Luckily at that point a Chinese american man, came and helped us. Apparently, we need to get here nice and early tomorrow to get our tickets for the same day OK!!
Perry - the American chinese guy became very helpful and was really nice to chat to, he asked if we fancied joining him for dinner and it was really nice, he had lots of stories about China and places he'd been this time and on many other occasions. We found a nice restaurant about half way between our hotels and ordered a feast. A beef dish, Chicken and mushroom soup thing and some veggie dishes, were all delicious although the chicken and mushroom soup had very little Chicken in - it seems most Chinese meat dishes have little meat in them, something we have come to learn over the weeks. Was really chuffed with the food and the company, Perry was really nice and we all talked for ages.
Such a shame when the bill came that the guy had chucked on another 60 yaun on the soup dish for adding Chicken, we couldn't believe the cheek, it was clearly a rip off as there was hardly any meat. Ad and I said we wouldn't pay as he never said that at the beginning, he just said Chick and Mush soup for 30, so outrageous, but Perry felt it was his fault as he'd misunderstood him, so he offered to pay the extra. I felt bad, but we had said at the beginning that we were on a budget and he said he wanted to treat us to something anyway bless him. He seemed happy to pay though. Was really nice of him to do that.
Used our torches to light up the way back as our part of town was now in dark, it seems that lights go out fairly early in this quite place. Just went back and watched some Aladin on ipods before bed. Nothing else to do at night here.
Look at section on Kangding.