Yo dudes! How are you all doing? We are good and have done tons since our last post. Here goes:
Firstly, we survived the 16hr hard seater train ride from Xi’an to Chengdu. It wasn’t easy, but we did it! Woo hoo! When we boarded the train, there were people sat in our seats, so after lots of ticket showing and ‘get the f**k off my seat’ hand gestures, we sat down for the lengthy journey ahead. Just to paint a picture for you, there were men and women sat on the floor, laying in the corridors and there was even some guy laying in the bloody toilet! I made a decision at that point not to drink or eat much, coz there was no waaaaaaay that i was going to use that toilet. Nooooo waaaaay! God knows how much these people had paid for standing tickets, but it was insane. Every piece of space was taken up. People were still gobbing on the floor around us and smoking, babies were crying and people just stared at us the whole way. When men get hot here, they lift up their t-shirts, exposing their belly – well I had a guy next to me plant his belly button on my face for the first 4 hours…cheers for that! Every time the train stopped, there was either a mass exodus of people or more would get on. There was no chance of sleeping, even at 3am, people were playing their music, chatting or a fight would break out behind us. It was hell. However, there was a lovely old couple on there who couldn’t speak a word of English but kept trying to help me out. You see, I was suffering with my second cold/lung infection on this train, so was pretty ill and miserable, but they told me to keep drinking hot water for my throat, they wanted to make sure I was warm enough so told Andy to cover me up. When their friend got off the train, they asked me to lay down on the spare seat. So kind, it made me remember that the people of China are such nice people, I had just had a bad day :0)
We arrived in Chengdu at 5am, feeling like death and carrying the heaviest bags known to man (we’ve still got to throw so much away!!!). The first thing that hit me was the temperature, so much more muggy. There was a traffic jam already out the front of the station (at 5am!!!) so there was non-stop beeping and chaos. We were tired, pissed off and sick of China and its busy madness. We just wanted to sleep. After finding our hostel and sleeping for a few hours, we woke up to birds singing and our view from our window showed us that Chengdu was a lot greener and airy than the other cities we had been to. That certainly was proven true when we first ventured out for the day. We visited a Buddist/Taoist monastery called Wen Shu which had the most beautiful quiet gardens, full of green bamboo, rock sculptures and ponds. The birds here are very exotic looking and sing the most wonderful songs, I cant really recall ever seeing or hearing any birds in Beijing or Xi’an. The only life there was human, lots of them! It was a moment of peace and calm which we needed and I felt I started to like China again.
The next day, we got up early to make our own way to the Leshan Giant Buddha. It took a few hours by public bus which was easy to do, and when we arrived the climate was tropical. We entered a green luscious jungle with miles of caves cut into the sheer cliff sides, housing hundreds of religious rock carvings. It was beautiful. Incense filled the air and people were praying at the many statues dotted about. I’ve never seen so many Buddhas in all my life! We walked around for a few hours, getting lost in the maze of trees and stone paths. At last we came across the giant Buddhas head and heard the buzz of people coming from behind it. That was when we realized there was a 3 hour queue to walk down the side of the Buddha to the bottom of the cliff to see him in his entirety. Such a shame that we had visited this park on one the busiest days in the Chinese calendar (their May holiday). Doh! So we just stood next to his giant earlobe and saw one of his eyes. He was huge! I cannot describe how big he was…Google him and see!
The next day we visited the panda sanctuary, oh man they are soooo cute! :0) We saw them at around 8am, so they had just eaten breakfast. Some were sleeping up in the trees, others were lying on their backs eating bamboo and some were play fighting. They are so clumsy, rolling around, falling over all the time. It was like they were stoned out on bamboo. I had seen all of the Youtube videos about the pandas at Chengdu, but nothing can prepare you for how fluffy and super cute they are in real life. I wanted a cuddle with one, but it cost £100 and really when you think about it, they should have as little contact with humans as possible if they are to ever be released into the wild. On the way out of the park, you have to go through the panda museum where you got to see how they bred pandas. OMG there was the most graphic video I’d ever seen of how they jack off male pandas, a process called electro-ejaculation..ouch (yep big pink panda cock on a massive screen) and how they artificially inseminate the females (yep camera zoomed in on a red panda fanny…nice). I know its good to know how these things are done, but pictures titled ‘erect panda penis’ was a bit over the top! Ha ha! What would Attenborough say? We then walked through a corridor of badly stuffed, bloated dead pandas with bulging fake eyes, it was so bizarre. It’s the same all over China – you will get immense beauty coupled with something tacky. Is that called Ying and Yang? :0)
Blogging off, phew! Emmy xxx