The End of my Asian Adventures

Trip Start Feb 17, 2010
Trip End Feb 23, 2011

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Flag of China  , Sichuan,
Thursday, May 27, 2010

Chengdu is AWESOME! I am going to attempt to recall my adventures in Chengdu and Jiuzhaigou National Park even though words will never be able to capture the experience I had in this place. It was immense. It is one of the most highly recommended places to visit in China due to the adventures I had, the people I met and the memories I have taken away.

Firstly the hostel I stayed at was LEGEN….wait for it….DARY!  Definitely one of my favourites hostels so far. It had cool open-air decking upstairs and in the beer garden, and the staff were really helpful and friendly. They put on a dumpling party for us where we got to make Chinese dumplings and they cooked them for us, then we drank beer and ate them. WINNER! Within the first 20min of arriving I had met 5 or 6 other backpackers, become instant friends and made plans for that night. – More crazy Chinese nightclubs!
The next day I went to the hostel reception to book a trip to see the Pandas at the Panda sanctuary. I said to the Chinese reception girl in an excited voice "I want to go see the magic pandas please!!" I was informed in a very matter-of-fact way that they are just pandas, they are not magic. I told her that I added the word magic for fun, but she just looked confused and repeated that the pandas are defiantly not magic…. However magic or not the pandas were great, there are pretty cool animals to see close up. I could have paid to hold on but it would have cost about 100 so that was not going to happen.

Chengdu is in the Shenzhen region of China which is famous for its spicy food, so a crowd of us from the hostel all headed out for the famous Shenzhen Hot-Pot. It was possibly the spiciest food I have ever had in my life, but it was also really good. I was enjoying manning up and eating as much as I could even though my whole face was sweating. Then I noticed a Chinese guy at the next table calmly eating his hot-pot with no shirt on! So not to be out done and as a result of encouragement from the rest of the group I took off my t-shirt and toasted him with my beer shouting “Gam-Bay!” (the Chinese word for Cheers) to the amusement of everyone… the whole thing was filmed but I have yet to acquire the video recording yet, but when I get it I will definitely put it on my Facebook Page.
It was also in Chengdu that I witnessed the insane Chinese dancing in the local parks. Crowds of Chinese people would gather around a few people playing music, and others would start dancing there in the middle of the crowd for no apparent reason, then you would walk on another few metres and there would be another group playing some other music and doing a silly march or something while waving flags… its really hard to describe what it was like other than it was absolutely hilarious. I recorded some of it on my camera and will upload the videos at some point as well.

After a few days in Chengdu myself, two French-Canadians and a Norwegian guy all headed out to Jiuzhaigou National Park, which involved a horrible 12 hour bus journey that felt like it took forever, partly due to the fact that we were all out the night before and got pretty much no sleep at all! Eventually we arrived and checked into our hostel excited about going to the national park in the morning, however it started to rain… heavily…we were just hoping that it would be dry by morning time… it wasn't.
The next day it was very wet and rainy however we only had the one day so we went out anyway, and despite the rain (which cleared up a little) it was fantastic. Although I have been travelling for quite some time and have seen many amazing places, nothing compared to the awesome scenery of this place! The lakes, rivers, mountains, forest, trees and everything was just immense! It was impossible to take a bad photograph. We spent the entire day there and saw pretty much all of it – it was just so beautiful you didn’t want to leave. That evening we had to try to find transport back to Chengdu for the following morning because the only bus was fully booked, we managed to negotiate a good price with a taxi driver to take us the 12 hours back to Chengdu. The next morning we got up for our taxi and started the long journey home which ended up being quite eventful. Due to all the rain the mountains had become unstable and there had been numerous landslides during the night, so we were constantly dodging massive rocks on the road and looking up nervously at the mountainside which looked set to collapse at any moment. So after a nervous first 6 hours of the journey we were very glad to reach the safety of the open road at the bottom of the mountain range.

We arrived back in Chengdu at about 7pm and as it was my last night we decided to have one last night out! So after a few beers at the hostel we went to a proper Chinese karaoke bar, where we rent a room with a huge TV, karaoke machine and loads of sofas, but before we get the room we are lead through a mini-supermarket thing to buy drinks. It was really really cool! We stayed there till the early hours of the morning and at about 5.50am one of the guys reminded me I had a taxi booked to the airport for 6am, so I had to run back to the hostel and franticly pack my bags waking up the grumpy American girl in my room in the process!
I got to the airport in time, and when I was on the plane I was fast asleep before the airhostess had even begun the safety spiel, and I woke up when she shook my shoulder and told me that everyone else was already off the aeroplane… I hadn’t even felt the plane landing! It was really weird as I woke up very tired and confused however I headed back to Hong Kong and spent two nights there before flying out to Australia. My Asian adventures were fast coming to an end, which was quite sad as I had been having such an awesome time. I didn’t do a huge amount in Hong Kong before I left but it is amusing to note that the weird Asian guy who was in my hostel in Chung King Mansions before I left for China was STILL THERE when I returned that night! My last night in Hong Kong was spent in the airport even though my flight was not until 9am as I didn’t want to spend anymore money than necessary on rent, but I found a comfy sofa and was happy!

At this point in my travels I have stayed in a total of 39 different hostels and spent 13 nights on a bus, train or in the airport!

Summary of China

So how can I summarise a country like China… it is a difficult job I can tell you that much. Communist China is very different to what I expected.

I was expecting a very draconian way of living where with rules everywhere, everything policed and absolutely no freedom. Yet although this was what I found, it was still not quite like anything I expected…

 Although it was a communist country and the internet was heavily censored and there was no protesting etc, all the people just got on with life and kept quiet about any discontent they may have had. Family and friends are very important to the Chinese and like a lot of the South Eastern Asian countries the people are very social and all eat together and share food. They are also very hard working, from talking to a few people it seemed their work ethic was to work hard and don’t complain. They also love karaoke… a lot!
The country is also very diverse and I only saw a few small parts of the country each of which was very different in its own way. Thus summarising China as a whole is made all the more difficult.

Once thing for sure is that I absolutely LOVED China, It did take some getting used to but the longer I was there the more I really liked it. The Chinese people are absolutely hilarious and it is my honest belief that every Chinese person in China is really a cartoon character!! It is funny to see how they do almost everything differently to people in the western world. The way they walk, talk, sit, and socialise is brilliant. They are very generous and hospitable people and made my stay a very memorable one. It is a country you really need to see for yourself to truly understand.

Best Bits:

-         The people when you get to know them

         Chengdu & Jiuzhaigou national park

         The Great Wall

         The fact that everything is really really cheap (i.e beer for 25p)

         The feeling that you are in a completely different world to absolutely everything you are used to.
Not so good:

         People spitting everywhere

         Crap quality food

         Internet being censored
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