We arrived to Yichang at 4:30 am. The travel agency promised me I could spend the night on the boat and sleep until the morning. I guess 6 am is morning, because this is when they kicked me out of the boat.
I went to the train station to buy the ticket out of this place (which has really nothing to see...). Bought a ticket to the night train to Xian. Had a whole day to kill, so I went to the park along the river.
Morning time in the parks in China is very interesting. People are working out on different workout machines that are available to the public, people are having jogs or even aerobics classes, and the most interesting are the people who are practicing Tai-Chi. I walked around and took pictures of them practicing, when an English speaker approached me and started talking to me. He said that if I am interested he can arrange a guide for me for a very cheap price. I thought that this is not such a bad idea, and I might give it a try for a week or so later on during the trip.
The rest of the day
was quite boring...
The night train, and trains in general, is worth writing home about. The most useful way of using the trains is to take long overnight rides, on hard-sleepers. These are kind of benches, in three different heights, one over the other, and you can just sleep there along with all the other Chinese. Of course they are all smoking, eating, spitting, yelling, etc. so it's not that easy to sleep, but the use of ear plugs and an iPod makes it easier... I don't have a picture of it, but I promise I'll send one in the future. Usually you board the train late in the afternoon, and arrive in the morning, ready to explore your new destination.
I took the night train from Yichang to Xian, and arrived to Xian early in the morning. The first thing I did was to buy the next train ticket, same night, to Lanzhou. I was heading west, and I plan to return to Xian later on my trip, so I didn't want to spend here too much time, even though there is a lot to see in the area (the most famous - The Terracotta Warriors). So I got
a ticket, put my bags in the luggage room, and went to explore the city a little bit.
The city is quite modern, clean, and friendly, surrounded with an impressive wall. I went to the Muslim quarter in the old town, and it was a nice mixture of China and Istanbul. It was only a glimpse of what I will find later in western China.
Also spend some time in the shopping mall filling up my stock of western goods such as after shave and soap...
Spent the night on the train again, heading west. Arrived to Lanzhou the next morning. Lanzhou itself is not too interesting, and is only a hub on the way. I met here a couple of Israelis, Shay and Tsufit, that were heading west as well and we grouped up for the journey.
Once again - bought a ticket to the night train for the same day, and went to explore the city. The weather was very hot - it started to feel like the desert we were heading to.
The most interesting thing in this place is the Yellow River, one of the biggest rivers in China. It is really yellow (or brown) because
of all the sand that it carries. They say there are 35 kg of sand in every cubic meter of water... We also climbed to a park on a hill near that river, and took an omega ride over a valley there - quite scary, but fun.
Another thing I did here was to extend my Chinese visa, which was about to expire. It's an easy procedure - you go to the police station, pay some fee, give your passport, and return after lunch, and in your passport there is a new visa for another month in China. Of course you can't do it too many times, but since it was my first extention - there was no problem.
The next train ride was the third night in a raw for me on a train, and if you add three nights on a boat before that - it is six nights of sleeping on a moving bed. Also - it is six nights without a shower, and that was a little too much for me. So I told my new friends that the next night is going to be spent in a hotel...
But I will tell you about this
place in the next one,
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