I'm currently at Guangzhou airport waiting for a flight to Guilin. I arrived here this morning, and have spent the day in the lounge drinking jasmine tea, talking on MSN and trying (in vain) to decipher Chinese symbols on computers, and get my USB working. Living the life eh?!? haha
Soooooooo....man im tired!!!!!!! This last 7 days has seen me go from here to there, and back again. I have hardly had a chance to set my bag down and lay my head, before i have to pick it up again and head back out on the road (some laid back fishing in Vietnam is looking REAL good right about now). What an adventure though!!!!!
I left Xian after having met some really cool people, and i knew that may be the last time i saw westeners for a few days (5 actually it turned out). I boarded the train in what could only be described as....hmmmmmm...MANIC. When you have 1.4 billion people on the move at once for new years, things get a lil' crazy, but nothing could have prepared me for what i was about to witness. I only had a standing ticket so i thought "as long as i can put my bag in the racks...." Our survey says....well i cant write the sound, but there was NO space. I took my position in the spot between the carriages where the trains joined and got ready. Then it got real...within 5 mins i couldn't crouch down, even move my head left to right it was so packed. This little girl was in front of me started crying and she had no guardians in sight so i picked her up and held her above the crowd so she could breathe. After about 3 hours of this, a few stops went by and people started getting off so a walkway opened up and i could crouch down at last and stretch my legs. I continued standing for another 3 hours....when i started getting serious stares from everyone in the carriage to my left. They were talking to each other and smiling and after about 20 mins, one of them got up and approached me. I was ready to take on the whole carriage, but he took my bag from me, placed it above his Chicken cage, and sat me down next to him! Everybody squeezed to make sure i had room.....i was amazed! Another guy spoke to me with a little bit of English he learnt and said that i should not be standing there for so long, not a visitor who braves trains at this time of year anyway! haha At this point pretty much the whole carriage came to take pics of me and started giving me food (cold chicken feet in a package......) It was unbelivable i had never witnessed anything like this trip before, let alone experience it. When it got to my stop everyone helped me off the train and said goodbye (well all they knew was hello so they kept saying that!) This beautiful little girl in front of me kept waving and i gave her my lance armstrong bracelet. Just to see her face light up really does make this trip worth while!
Anywayz i arrived at Kaifeng to see my good friend Zerun. I tell ya it was so nice to be with someone who spoke Chinese! He and his friend took me out to eat over the next few days and we had a great time. Zerun's family treated me to the best food i have had out here yet and really looked after me and i had a fantastic time there! New years eve night was pretty mad too fireworks and firecrackers going off at every street corner.
I left Kaifeng on the 19th to go to Louyang which was only a 3 hour train ride (i had a seat!!!!). I sat on the train and tried to work out an exit strategy from China. I want to be in Vietnam to take full advantage of my 30 day visa. It starts on the 24th so i tried to plan it so i could see a few lasts things then head down to the south (no easy thing!) and try and head over the border from there.
From Louyang i was in a position to finally get a chance to visit the famous Shaolin Temple, as well as the longman grottos which are a series of very old caves with big statues in them. I managed to do both (pics will be up someday...). The Shaolin temple was a very cool place, however i have seen so many temples now it doesn't really look any different. It was SO busy though and we didn't get much time there, however im very happy to say i have been there. I even managed to get into the training center and mess about with the weapons!
I flew from Luoyang this morning.....and here i am....waiting for the next stage of my journey! The place im going next is said to be on of the worlds most beautiful places, however i only have 2 days there, maybe not even that, and the forecast is rain so i won't be able to experience the sights (i have not seen rain since London so it would be a change!) To be honest im more concerned about getting a bed for the night, and getting in touch with someone who speaks English and can sort me out with a ticket and some sound advise.....please don't send me back to the station to buy a train ticket........haha
Anyways peoples i have drunk too much tea and can no longer see straight, so i'm going to go lie down and wait to board my plane.
Until next time