Trip Start Aug 03, 2010
176Trip End May 04, 2013
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Where I stayed
After using the metro and arriving in Shenzhen, people were literally queuing to help me put credit on my phone; I was just hanging around outside the train station looking confused/distressed and bless the Chinese, their inability to speak English didn't stop them from trying to help – I just cannot imagine this happening in Central London. Feels great to be back, even 40mins from HK the people are more friendly, helpful and curious.
On my overnight train to Changsha I was pretty tired, had just about recovered from jet lag and couldn’t get to sleep because there was a man in bunk above/opposite throwing his arms around in his sleep and snoring like he was in a cartoon or something
I make it to my hostel and my first impressions of Changsha are that is nothing special here, the hostel is ok, a little cold but it is not long before I am met by Aviva in the morning and taken out to see the city.
While I am in the hostel getting ready/showering, a guy in my dorm room is sleep talking a funny mix of Mandarin and English with a hint of an Irish accent, and then even singing (mumbling) something haha. It would be funnier if it turned out he wasn’t Irish. I met him later that day, turns out he was Irish, pretty funny too and we had a mutual friend in Beijing, yet again, small travelling circuit here in China.
Aviva takes me to Changsha town centre which seems a bit better than my first impression and then onto the school where Mao Zedong had once studied and boarded. After, we escaped the cold and chilled out in a cool bar for the rest of the day.
Initially, I had booked myself in the hostel for the whole of Chinese New Year, but luckily I had only been asked to pay one night. While Aviva and I were talking it turned out that her home town is over 2 hours away and could only meet me for one day and then not again for another 10 days or so. I took advantage of the fact that I had not committed myself to spend longer here and decide to leave after 1 night and move onto Chongqing which I think we will be a little bit livelier/more fun for New Year
I would normally avoid catching a flight and get trains instead, but it’s a long story to do with tourists not easily being able to travel during Chinese New Year. I don’t have a Chinese ID card and with 300 million peeps all going home to their families, it’s less hassle to just fly. Plus, I think I have criss-crossed several times here now and one quick 1.5 hour flight instead of 24 hour train is ok :-).
The next day (01/02/11), before leaving late afternoon to the airport, I went to the Hunan Provincial museum, which was ok and just talked with Brian, the Irish guy and an American, Dean who was a bizarre character, but genuine and quite harmless.
I had seen my fair share of ancient pottery, artefacts and 'stuff’, but the highlight of this place was definitely a 2100 year old mummy (not like the Egyptian mummies). Creepy, but amazing; apparently she was so well preserved she weighed 34Kg and still had some slight movement in her joints. They even knew her blood type, age, last meal and exactly what she died from and had been suffering from in the later years of her life. Incredible.
As my time in Changsha draws to an end, the place really begins to shut down with shops preparing for time with their families, streets empting and roads dead. This time of year is as important for Chinese peeps as Christmas is to us – kind of feels pretty good to be here for it!
At the airport leaving for Chongqing, I love getting lost in translation haha. A sign gets put up in Chinese characters about my flight, I ask for help saying ‘can not read’ in Chinese and am told that it has been delayed 2 ½ hours, after the surprised look on my face, I reverse translate (that’s how I am going to describe it anyway) and work out its only a 20 minute delay!
Also, I don’t know why I was expecting different, after all this is still a developing country, but I was wearing my Western hat and was kind of surprised to see squat toilets in an airport. I have to get used to it again, that it is just normal for them.