Heading for Yabuli

Trip Start Jan 02, 2013
Trip End Mar 17, 2013

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Flag of China  , Heilongjiang Sheng,
Tuesday, January 29, 2013

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I got up very early and got ready to check out of my hotel. I got down to the front desk and found out I needed to produce the receipt I had given for the deposit I paid at check-in. After a lot of searching, I eventually produced the receipt. I could leave.

There was a taxi waiting across the street from the hotel. The desk clerk had come outside with me and told the driver to take me to the train station. Although it was before 6:30 traffic was at a standstill in places. We eventually made it to the train station.

I headed into the station. The first obstacle was a metal detector and luggage scanner. I put my bags through and surprisingly wasn't searched any further. Then I needed to find my train. I wandered around and eventually found a painted sign that indicated which track my train should be leaving from. Then I noticed an electronic sign that seemed to indicate my train should be on a different track.

There was a sign pointing toward the track given on the painted sign. I headed in that direction. I couldn't find the track but I found an information desk. Nobody spoke English but one of the people took the time to lead me to the proper waiting room for my train. A person who seemed to be saying goodbye to the people I had sat next to showed me one of their tickets. It matched mine so I knew I could follow them.

The people next to me were a group of three young women from southern China who, like me, were heading for Yabuli to ski although they were only going for one day and will be catching a train back to Harbin in the afternoon and I'll be here for four nights. The train ride was around three hours and I spent much of that time talking with two of them.

When we arrived in Yabuli I walked with the three women toward the parking lot. Two of them were even kind enough to help carry some of my luggage, which is hard to drag through the snow. Just as we were getting near the vehicles there was someone with a sign with my name on it. Transfers to the hotel must have been included in the package. Before I bought my train ticket I had checked train schedules and had decided a later train looked good. Fortunately, the woman who sold me the ticket told me that the train I wound up taking was the train I wanted since it's the only one that stops at Yabuli South Station and the others all go to Yabuli Station. Thanks to her help I got on the correct train and met the person who would get me to my hotel.

We got on a shuttle bus that runs around through the little village at the base of the mountain. At one point the person taking me to the hotel said we should get off. We schlepped my bags between a couple hotels and eventually wound up at the base of a gondola. We loaded my luggage into the gondola and hopped on. It seems my hotel was at the top of the mountain. I had had trouble getting accurate information on hotels here and I wasn't even sure my hotel was slopeside. I was very surprised to discover it was next to the upper gondola station.

I got checked in and was shown my room. This is the nicest room I've been in in years. Agoda.com, the web site I used to book this room, give it a 4-star rating.  I don't know who did the rating but that seems accurate.  I'm used to more like 1-star accommodations when I travel in the U.S.  The room is huge with windows looking out from the top of the mountain although it's overcast today so the views weren't particularly good. There's a balcony although the door is taped shut, I assume to keep out a breeze. There are two queen beds with nice linens and nice furniture. The bathroom is quite large with a separate shower and tub. I could get used to this.

This bathroom has a large window toward the beds that was translucent. When I went into the bathroom there was a switch labeled Bathroom Privacy. When I hit that switch the center section of the window turned transparent.  It makes a lot more sense to have that control inside the bathroom instead of having the shade on the outside like at the last hotel. I've never seen bathrooms with windows until I came to Harbin.  It must be a local feature.

Of course there's a downside to being at the top of the mountain.  The gondola stops running at 4:00 so from then until morning I'm trapped up here.  As a result, I don't have any choices about where to eat.  My opinion of the hotel dropped when I went to dinner and discovered I'd be eating in the restaurant that skiers eat in during the day.  My dinner might have been better than what you'd get at your typical ski lodge and the atmosphere is certainly well above average for a ski lodge but it's still a ski lodge and it's not up to the 4-star standard of the room.
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