Travel notes. Days 41-47.

On the morning of the 41st day of travel my train on the route Beijing – Chengdu, after 30 hours of travel arrived at the central station of the city of Chengdu. Chengdu, contrary to my expectations, turned out to be a huge metropolis with a population of 8 million people (60 million with the suburbs). The weather is perfect, 28 degrees and the sun is shining. In contrast to Beijing’s air is clean and you can see the sky.
Chengdu – Regional Center of Sichuan Province, known for its very spicy cuisine in China, the largest panda reserve in the world for its tea houses and the fact that it is here for the first time in the world began to print paper money.
Every time I go to a new city, I spend a lot of time to find my hostel. Even the availability of GPS navigation on your phone does not always work quickly orientate themselves on the ground. This time was no exception and walked with two backpacks on their shoulders in the surrounding metro station Wenshu Monastery for about an hour until accidentally discovered a few guys European appearance, which crowded the entrance to the hostel.

Sichuan


Well, I’m finally in place, the hostel mr. Panda Hostel, Chengdu, Sichuan Province, which is located in the southern part of China. Chengdu is famous for its most acute in China cuisine, the largest number of pandas in the world for its tea houses, the fact that in this city started for the first time in the world to issue banknotes.
Almost in silence, I spent the last 30 hours of travel, so the next two hours we with my neighbors in the hostel talked about everything without stopping. So I met with Mexican Renata. And the next morning we went together to a famous nature reserve to maintain the population of pandas.
Pandas – very cute plush animals, but to catch them in the waking state, we had to get up at 5 in the morning and come to the opening of the reserve. Pandas are most active in the morning. More precisely, in the morning for a few hours, they do not sleep: play, chew bamboo. All the rest of the time these animals spend lazy sprawled belly up on the branches of trees.
Imagine our surprise when entering the reserve we spent about an hour in search of at least one panda, but found nothing. Only in closed enclosures can be observed through the glass of the newborn calves.
Chinese everywhere. Every minute in the reserve comes at a few hundred of these same searchers pandas as we are. Pandas as a result we have found. For me, this is one of the most beloved animals. Just watching them are filled with positives. But a huge number of Chinese tourists slightly spoils the overall impression of a visit to the reserve. A few days later, the Chinese government will limit the number of visitors to reserve a day to 20,000 people. As national holidays that occur in China on October 1st and last one week, the number of visitors to the reserve increases to 40,000 pandas Pandas can not stand this kind of attention, they might stress and they cease to proliferate. So I was lucky that I got to the park just a few days before the introduction of restrictions on the number of visitors. I think now go to the park will be much more difficult.

Overnight in the mountains in the Tibetan village Zehava


In Sichuan Province in my plans also includes a trip to a national park Dzaydzhaygou, which is a 10-hour drive north of the city of Chengdu. Renata Dzhaydzhaygou returned from a few days ago and told me a lot of tricks that you can turn the trip into the park, advised hostel where to stay and explained in detail how to get to the place of its own power, without the help of travel agencies.
All the 43rd day of the trip, I again spent on the bus on the way to the city Dzhaydzhaygou. Movement crazy. The bus driver hardly come from the oncoming lane all 10 hours of travel, and all 10 hours of travel, he did not stop the signal. Signals in Sichuan everyone always. Before going to overtake before turning deaf, hello horn with other drivers sometimes honking for no particular reason. Fall asleep on the bus is not easy, roaring horn sounds on average every 30 seconds.
Dzhaydzhagou city lies at the foot of the mountains, which give rise to the Himalayas. Dzhaydzhagou literally translated from Chinese as “Valley of Nine Villages”. Actually, the park is located in the valley Dzhaydzhaygoy in the mountains, at an altitude of 2000-3000 thousand meters. Near the town is one of the highest airports in the world. The runway at an altitude of 3500 meters.
Arrived. Low clouds, pouring rain and cold. After 28 degrees in Chengdu, here in the foothills of only about 10. Traditionally, in a new city again I spent about an hour searching for the hostel. Hostel interesting. In fact – this hotel. But the rooftop to build a small closet in which both located hostel. Feel Karlosona =)
Anticipating the queue for admission tickets in the morning, I went to buy tickets to the park in the evening immediately after checking in the hostel. Renata told me that tickets are quite expensive and to save on the entrance you can go through student rate, showing at the box office student card or any other card which has your picture and name. I took advantage of the Russian driver’s license, but clever employee at the checkout, consultation, saw through me. I had to pay full price – 310 yuan (about 2000 rubles).
Despite the bad weather, I decided that since I bought a ticket at full price, I’ll go to the mountains with an overnight stay in the park and spend not one, but two days.
The girl at the reception desk told me that today the hostel should settle another guy from Russia and we settled it in one room. So I met with Andrew.
Andrew – the first Russian, whom I met in China for 2 weeks trip. He arrived quite late at night, because of the bad weather mountain airport did not take flight and the plane landed in Chengdu. I shared with him their plans to spend in the park at least 2 days to spend the night in one of the Tibetan villages. Andrew liked the idea and he supported it.
At 7 o’clock the next morning we were driving in a bus that was supposed to throw us to the highest point of the park (about 3200 m). The weather today is much better than yesterday. At least it does not rain. Although still very cold and overcast. That did not stop us to explore the park for half a day. We quickly realized that the moving bus in the reserve will only see the crowds of tourists and one of the stops on the bus left and moved deeper into the reserve. Describe the incredible beauty text meaningless. Photos and videos will say much more. Let me just say that the National Park Dzhaydzaygou – one of the most beautiful places on the planet that I’ve seen. And another thing: Dzaydzhaygou – the only place where the Chinese do not smoke. Absolutely. Smoking is strictly prohibited, and no one, no one at all of the many thousands of Chinese tourists was not seen me smoking for two days spent in the park.
For a couple of hours before dark, we began to attempt to find some shelter for the night. Based on the tourist map we were only 500 meters to the destination. These 500 meters uphill with backpacks were given very hard. And now we go 20 minutes, but on the horizon, there is nothing like the village. Meet us go bus-exporting recent visitors of the park. After consulting with Andrew and looking at the GPS, understand what it is like we are going in the wrong direction. Although in my inner compass we were almost on the spot. Turned around and added the move. An hour later it started getting dark. Spend the night in the jungle did not want to, and we did not have with him or tents or sleeping bags. Taking time out to think what to do next suddenly discover that on the tourist map, which I bought at the entrance to the reserve account (!) The north and south have been reversed. That is, the last hour we walked in the opposite direction from the village down the hill. And initially chose the right direction. We have not reached the village of some 500 meters.
It was getting dark. I did not stop to remember the kind words developers tourist card, which top the south, and north from the bottom and has already begun to lose heart, knowing that the village its course we will not get there. All buses only move towards the exit. Decided to hitchhike. Although the national park is called hitchhiking difficult. I’ve seen a few Chinese on the road, who tried to do the same, but in vain. All the cars towards the top of the mountain passing by.
We were lucky with Andrew. We caught the first bus towards the top. The driver did not ask too many questions. Although I think he understood. Officially, the park is already closed, and he takes us in the opposite direction from the exit.
At dusk, look for at least someone living in the village tibetstkoy Zehava Village. Gestures show that we need to spend the night. The organization did not take overnight stays longer than 15 minutes. I did a little bargain, but more for the species. Because we have the choice was not special and we would stay here for any money.
The rate includes breakfast and dinner. We had a great time in the company of several Chinese and Tibetans, drinking vodka and eating rice dinner, completely made from products that the villagers grow in their own gardens.
At night it was very cold. Heaters in the house no. Slept in their clothes under two blankets and still frozen. I suppose that at night the temperature dropped to 5 degrees of heat. The next morning we were able to catch a popular nature reserve, before it will include the first tourists. The weather cleared. And if yesterday I was wrapped in thermal underwear, fleece jacket and, today, we sunbathed in some T-shirts and were afraid to burn under the rays of the sun mountain. Two days have been tracking about 30 kilometers. Quilted legs, back, too tired of the habit backpack. But fill us with emotions of this campaign slihvoy overlap all these mundane senses.
In the evening, returning to our hostel in the city at the foot of the mountain, I gave a small concert guitar in the lobby bar. People gathered 20. Fully international team. It was fun. I suddenly realized that I could play all ten songs in English. And when the supply is exhausted, the encore we sang the entire play list two more times.

The meeting with Steven and Fabian in Chengdu


The next day I spent on the road back from Dzhaydzhaygou in Chengdu. The day after tomorrow in China begins national holiday to mark the Day of the PRC, which will last for a week. If you believe the guides and reviews of tourists, then this week is not worth any serious planning activities. Better to just take a week vacation and will not be put out. For me it was the next Challenge. Wanted to feel what is actually the population of China and of course I had planned another trip in a fairly popular place – Leshan. In Leshan is one of the world’s largest Buddha statues (70 meters high), carved out of the rock around 1000 years ago.
The idea was supported my Beijing friends and Stephen Fabian, who should arrive in Chengdu tomorrow morning.
Solid content: met, spent an hour to enter the building bus, then another hour to buy tickets, and then another half an hour standing in line for a stuffy board the bus. Usually road to Leshan takes about 2 hours. In view of the traffic on the roads on the first day of national holidays – 4 hours. It is easy to calculate that to see the Buddha only one road 150 kilometers, it will need to kill almost daily. Of course we have not gone anywhere. Handed over the ticket and decided that this last day in Chengdu we dedicate the celebration of our meeting. It was the right decision =) After the stress in the hustle and queues on the first day of the Chinese holidays we needed gap on all cylinders. It was one of the best parties for the whole trip, which began at 7 pm and ended at 3am. I will remember this day in the company of these great guys.

Travelling constantly meeting new people. This is a very interesting experience. Someone traveling the same way as you, someone learns here, someone is working. Usually mostly young people. They are all about 25, but at this age, many have a bekgraund behind. There is something to talk about. Everything is very open, friendly and ready to help. When I say all – it does not mean anything. All – it 9 out of 10.
For example, on the eve of his departure from Chengdu to Yangsho I found that all cheap accommodation options in the city are already booked. But when I only mention this as one guy – Walter, who lives in the nearby town of Guilin, grabbed the phone and began to write his friends in Yangsho that they placed me at =)
Later, with my arrival in Yangsho, it turns out that I did not expect anybody here. All require a formal reservation, which I was not. But at the mention of Walter, she retsepshen hostel smiled and offered me to spend the night in a nearby building with staff hostel, and the next day will provide a private room at the hostel.
This is not the only case when I shoot part, seems to be important in the moment of the tasks on the course. And everyone just happens to some adventure. At first it’s a little scary. But then you realize that it is in these moments of real adventures begin.

Do not let the subway


The next morning. I hasten to South Railway Station of Chengdu to jump on the train that brought me to the very south of China, near the border with Vietnam. Most of the cafes, shops and shopping centers closed due to holidays. The number of police and military on the streets has increased tenfold. Perhaps also because, a few days ago in the nearby town Kuymine separatists at the railway station subway killed several dozen knives or innocent citizens. In order to enter the subway in China need to go through a serious examination of security: metal detector, scanner luggage and liquids. So I go down to the subway, with two backpacks. I have a dozen times did the same thing, but this time the police kept asking me to pass an additional security check. I try to explain in English that I train two hours later and I was a bit in a hurry. On further inspection it turns out that in addition to the knife, scissors and other banned piercing and cutting accessories in my bag has a spray repellent against mosquitoes. Knives police turn a blind eye, and with spray subway entrance is prohibited. I say, I have traveled a thousand times with the spray and everything was in order. Why when I’m late for the train so hard they do not want to let me in the subway. Speak, saying that surely every second Chinese woman lying in a bag and perfume or deodorant they pass without problems. To save time, the police just offered me throw repellents and vosrolzovatsya subway. But throw repellent was not in my plans. It was not easy repellents. I spent a lot of time to find and buy it in Moscow. I did not do vaccinations before heading to a country with malaria, and other diseases that mosquitoes carry, so carefully choose their only means of protection against them. One of my friends who lived a couple of years in Guinea advised me that repellents. The content of active substance against mosquitoes (DETA) in the spray over 50%. In conventional repellents only 10% -20%.
So I just got off the subway to the street, shifted all prohibited for carriage stuff in the pockets of his pants, went through another entrance to the subway, walked in front of police metal detector scanned the backpack on both security checks and successfully reached the station.
So, despite the seriousness of the police and their huge amount in China, the likelihood that someone will carry a gun or knife on the subway and then arrange a bloodbath saved. In general, according to internal sensations, China is much safer feeling than in Russia.

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