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JASSENDEAVOR 'm going to travel around the world, easternly, from the good ole USA. I plan to be traveling for about 4 months, but who knows what will happen? This is my global adventure. It's a chance to write my own story; but the details will have to be filled i


CHINA | Saturday, 23 May 2009 | Views [465]

In Beijing, saw the great wall, was amazing. Mostly because it was NOT in a touristy area but a cool out  of the way place. Went to the Forbidden City and was not really amazed.
In Xi'an, saw the terracotta warriers, this army of ceramic men an emperor Chin had built to accompany him into the afterlife, which was pretty awesome, but overpirced but still cheap by US standards.

Havent eaten anything too weird yet, but have tons of fun stories of locals just by what they say. "Excuse me, where are you from? Oh, from America? Yes, you look like cool guy!" was what one person told Shawn. Then he asked him if he had an american cigarette. We're having a fun time, for sure.

Turns out, in China there is quite the backpackers network at play,
where basically each hostel is a great restaurant, bar, hostel, and tour
guide/booking agency, all in one. Each one has a courtyard, maybe some pets, cheap and huge Tsingtsao beers, "western" food like omelettes with toast, pizza, musli... and they kind of all have to be similar because each one recommends the next one to you... so once you experience a good one, they all kind of have to share the good qualities or else they'll hear about it.

Each hostel can look up train schedules, and if they can't book the train, they'll write it out in Chinese on a piece of paper what train you need, on which day, and you can give the paper to the ticket office yourself. Similarly, on all of the hostels leaflets somewhere near the bottom it will say in Chinese, "Take me to ___ hostel" so you can always hand it to a taxi driver. It's an incredible way to communicate without even learning "hi," although it's true that now I can say "hi, thank you, and How much is it?" (Ni hao, xiexie, and duoshuan qian, respectively) Everybody understands WC. Almost everybody...

Anyway, as I said, the biggest and arguably best part of the racket is that each hostel sends youto the next one, with free train station pickup, so they meet you with your name and bring you right to the next hostel. (Today, in the shuttle to the hostel, literally five minutes from exiting our train, I pretended to be stressed how by how "difficult" travelling is... because honestly it's been very easy, given this incredible network. Money talks, I guess.

So, right now we're on our third city, and third hostel! It's pretty cool, they are nice and definitely cheap, but starting to be very similar to each other. I've met the same people even, which is actually nice. We're starting to be one group of travelers, instead of many little ones.

I'm trying to talk Shawn into doing this tour of the country where you bicycle through rice paddies and do homestays, but it's a lot of country time and we both want to see Shanghai and some cities. We'll see. Tomorrow we will see the Giant Pandas, which are a hugely exploited commodity here... I don't think they see much of the $$YY (yuan) that they charge for you to a) sit with a panda, b) 1000 Yuan to hold a baby panda... that's like 90 bucks USD... or even to see the compound.

Anyway, I'll know more tomorrow. After Chengdu we will go by boat down the Yangtze river, through the three gorges area, and end at this famous Dam, supposedly built to withstand a 7 richter scale earthquake (my butt)

But the dam is a highlight for me, so you can bet I'll blog about it afterwards. I will re-read about how many million chinese people were relocated to make it, and about how many nuclear power plants it approximates in energy production...

By the way, those pandas, with only something like 1000 in captivity, are net worth sooo much more than, say, your average Chinese person (to the government I mean)... I don't even want to think about security at the Panda base. I heard that at your standard zoos, the living conditions for all the other animals are crappy, but these pandas, because they are such huge tourist attractions and bring so much attention to the country, are treated like kings.... I don't know. I haven't been there yet and I'm rambling.

Tags: china, pandas, sichuan

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