China ChongQing

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July 25th 2010
Published: November 21st 2010
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25/7/10: The morning was raining cats and dogs. We caught a taxi each to the train station to go to ChongQing. The train was new and we realized why the tickets cost so much after we hit 200km/hour. It was hard to find cheap accommodation but luckily we found a nice room at the Seven Days Inn for 150yuan fitting four of us in one room. We had to sort out our next train journey to Xian but were undecided if we were to stay to see the Three Gorges Dam. It turned out that the only way to see the dam was by boat costing 800yuan each for the bed only, then we would have had to pay for tickets and food on top of this. Regrettably we decided against the seeing the dam choosing to travel to Xian with Nat and Dan. Everything proved to be difficult in ChongQing, just trying to find out about the Three Gorges Dam tour was hard enough. We even had to go back to the train station to book the tickets because there were no travel agents available to help. Walking back from a different hostel we could see the mess the recent floods had left on the lower roads of the river, they were doing a big clean up with fire hoses and front end loaders. There were also cars that had been flooded up to their roof; there was no chance of recovery. Later that night we decided to hit the local restaurants. We were seated below a main walkway, it turned out that we, being westerners, must be more interesting to watch then I first imagined, we had a crowd of more than twenty Chinese people all staring down of us while we ate; to them I think we are like looking at aliens. We broke the uneasy attention by having photos with all the curious Chinese onlookers; we felt like celebrities. It wasn’t long before we were back in the cool air-conditioning of our room having a few beers for the night.
26/7/10: Trying unsuccessfully to find a travel agent to book train tickets and more information on the Three Gorges Dam, Nat, Dan, Jacinta and I all hopped in a taxi to buy train tickets to Xian. We weren’t decided on whether we would see the dam or travel on with Nat and Dan. With only hard seats available for a train to Xian it was a quick decision to carry on our journey to Xian, it later turned out to be the right choice as it was just too costly to see the dam. Nat and Dan went back to the hotel while we headed for the Three Gorges Dam Museum. It was free to get in; we paid 10yuan each for an English speaking headset guide just so we knew what we were looking at. We returned happy that we actually were able to learn something about the history of Chongqing and the Three Gorges Dam. We later had a great meal at the same restaurant with more onlookers.
27/7/10: We caught a bus to the train station around 9am. The train to Xian was 13hours on a hard seat, the train was quiet new and clean. I managed to keep myself entertained by reading book, watching some Seinfeld and annoying Jacinta. There was a mute boy on the train that seem to also have hearing problems; he made a huge ruckus where ever he went. He stirred up the other passengers until he got to us. Not being able to speak he was force to write everything in Chinese characters. We then had to translate through another Chinese man that could read Chinese but not speak English, Nat and Dan where able to decipher enough to understand the basics of what he was saying. We then had a deaf girl that wanted to join in on the conversation so we managed to speak to her and make up sentences through our phrase book. This kept us entertained and everyone else in the carriage entertained for half an hour or more. A massive crowed had gathered as they watched in awe westerners speaking to a mute young man and a deaf girl; fascinating.
Throughout the train journey we played an annoying game called KEEP THE FUCKING DOOR CLOSED with the smokers in between the train carriages. There were signs clearly marked no smoking but this means nothing in China as almost all men and some younger social women smoke. They clearly saw our futile attempts to keep the door closed but straight after finishing a cigarette open the door and leave it open. One younger man tried to be smart and refused to close the door. I then got into a fierce pushing match wrestling with the door in-between. The last time I had done this was when I was 12 years old and my brother wouldn't let me into his room for reasons unknown or maybe just because he wouldn't let me in made me even more determined to get in. I’m sure if he did let me in and didn't make such a fuss I would have gotten bored and left 10 seconds later; anyhow back to the blog. We wrestled until I lost my temper and I slammed the door in his face. Dan saw the whole thing happen and had had enough as well. Dan is a solid guy and is not one to be messed with. Dan confronted the man face to face and told him not to smoke in the hallway. The man came back with a piss weak excuse and said he didn't understand. When we returned to our seat it was realised that the smart arse smoker had opened the door up on Dan’s big toe, ripping the nail off its bed. It was an old injury that just had been made worse. Dan ended up yanking the old damaged nail of his toe revealing blood and gore underneath. The Chinese onlookers all cringed and looked away as he pulled the full size toe nail off.
The train seemed to take forever, only ten minutes out from the station the train sat on the tracks for close to 45min; I’m not sure why. When we finally got off the train no taxis would take foreigners. We were desperate; eventually one man agreed to take two of us and with a bit of persuasion agreed to take all of us. We found him to be rather trustworthy so we tipped him 5yuan for the trip. Later we found out that he took us the long way to the hostel bagging himself an extra 7yuan plus the tip; duped again. We didn't actually arrive at the Bell Tower hostel until 12:00pm, we were all so tired.

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