S: The night train to Chengdu was 16 hours long and we both knew it was going to be a long one in a chair. We started to play cards and the Chinese couple across the table from us soon became very interested. James started to show the man our cards for trumps. After 5 minutes and no English being spoken he knew how to play the game. Let's just say the time passed very quickly. He soon didn't like me as I kept winning and every time I won he made funny noises at me lol.
J: We headed out to get a meal after the long train journey and after walking past the places that had spoken English or had pictures of food we stopped in a locals place, even after we tried impersonating duck, chickens, pigs and cows we were having no luck so pointed to various selections on the menu....... We got noodles with offal, tripe with noodles and a massive plate of offal, ears, snout, stomach & tails. We dug in and to our surprise it was all really tasty and we finished the lot!
S: As you all know I do the research, well I made my first mess up. We went to see the Mao statue, fine. We then proceeded to go to the science museum. Oh dear, nothing interactive worked, and anything that looked slightly interesting you had to pay extra for..... So this has become a non talking point for our travels. We didn't even finish the museum it was that bad.
On the bright side we grabbed some street food, and headed to the people's park. I never realised China loves dancing, anywhere, anytime.
We decided to be very local, and have our first proper Chinese tea, and the tradition is you can sit there for hours just refilling your cup from a flask. Though James and myself did have our ears cleaned.... James loved it although his were spotless, and only my left one had wax in. We got speaking to an Australian family, recommended the ear cleaning, and well we were laughing at the mum so much as her ears were filthy and the pieces of wax coming out were the sizes of a maggot.
J: Sam skipped over the bit when the guy had to use large tweezers to pull the wax out of her ear! He pull out 3 big hunks, she is now saying "what" a lot less now lol.
We later headed to find some proper smoked Chinese duck, treated ourselves to nice meal and had a massive selection of about 20 different small plates, which was great.
Then for a change (as this hostel has a film room) we sat down to watch a film with some beers... Oddly it felt a bit homely.
J: we went to the Giant Panda Breeding Centre, which was brilliant! A huge park we spent the day walking around just watching the panda's. Found out interesting things like the newborn is just 1:1000th of its parent when born. Also interesting is that if the panda's don't want to mate they artificially inseminate the female, what was funny though is that they found that once the male was anaesthetised just using electrical stimulation wasn't very successful so they had to start "manually massaging" at the same time which gave better results. Can you imagine that job title?!?
We saw pandas at different stages of growing up and the cubs were still active compared to the adults. Although due to the heat here, only 30 degrees, they preferred to be in their air-coned rooms.
S: Oh and I almost forgot to tell you all, I sat on the best toilet ever whilst visiting the pandas, it was like a TV remote with all the buttons. You could warm the seat, front and back wash, change the pressure and dry!! I was soo excited by this James had to go back into the toilets to have a good look. And yes I did try it out lol.
J: Sam found out that the locals eat a lot of "hot pots" so we found a very busy local place, we were given a waiting number of 18 but a Chinese family bunched up and invited us to their table, I think they wanted to practice their English, but it was good for us as they helped us order & we skipped the queue. This "hot pot" is literally a large pot of hot chili oil with strong seasoning which then has lots of skewers in it; we ate Duck tongues & heart, chicken feet, some bird ribs, intestines, with more normal things like; quail eggs & jellied noodles. This was a highlight as it was so tasty, although the duck tongue was odd that it had a had bony bit in it which after I chucked the whole thing in excited I noticed the locals neatly eating around, I had to removed it from my mouth as smoothly as possible without too many people noticing lol.
S: Chengdu has a large zoo and we decided to visit and it was well worth it. China has got some amazing animals. I even got to feed a Hippo, it was great and I felt like a kid in a candy shop. We spent all day wandering and even managed to catch feeding time for the tigers and leopards. Although we did spend 30 minutes watching baboons participate is extra circular activities lol.
J: We had a lovely time one afternoon just acting like the Chinese; sitting in a park, drinking tea; eating sunflower seeds and playing dice/cards. It's a lovely way to spend time.
S: I actually feel sad China has come to an end. Even though our time here has been fully packed we have but just caught a glimpse of what it has to offer. The culture here is so different to home, and seeing new sights, and experiencing new things have made China a place to revisit. There is still some wacky food to try lol!!
The language has been a slight barrier but it hasn't stopped us, or the Chinese, communicating with each other. It just goes to show that you don't need words to communicate.
The hostels have been a brilliant experience and its been great meeting people from all walks of life and discussing where they've been, where they are going, funny experiences, and passing on advice.
J: Truly China has been great.
One thing I'll take away is something another traveler told me how he travels by a motto he heard on an Emirates Airline advert, it is; "when was the last time you did something for the first time?" This sentence could make everyone's lives more enriched.
Another thing I'll take away is when a girl in the hostel stopped me and told me I look like Jason Statham..... I'll take that :)