Tag Archives: Chengdu

Chengdu to Kunming, China

3/17 – There was nothing else we wanted to see in Chengdu, so we are continuing south to Kunming.  We enjoyed a leisurely morning, as our train doesn’t depart until 15:00 this afternoon. Same hotel breakfast ( I skipped the pickled cabbage and had an extra egg), and an especially good lunch of dumpling soup with leeks and chives.  Jim had a spicier dish comprised mainly of chicken skins.  

We gave ourselves an hour to complete the 10 minute ride to the train station, so, of course, circumstances conspired against us. Background:  hotels in China ask for a cash deposit when you check in, then send a maid up to inventory the room when you check out, to make sure you haven’t stolen anything.  Some hotels have items for sale in the room – razors, decks of cards, cans of soda, beer, and snacks – clearly marked.  Most hotels provide an electric kettle and teacups, bottled water and a variety of tea, gratis.  When we tried to check out of this hotel, we were presented a bill for 40 yuan for the sundries we had used – the tea, the tissues, the bottled water, and what we thought was a complimentary toothbrush.  After almost a month in China, this is the first time we have encountered this.  They also claimed we stole a towel, which others online had reported was a common ploy to extract more money from tourists here.  I shouted and waved my good arm around, gave back the toothbrush and got the damage reduced to 15 yuan ($2.42), but it cost us 15 minutes in the lobby.
We hustled down to the main road, (Jim still lugging both our packs) but had a hard time getting a taxi to stop, and when we finally did, the traffic was bumper-to-bumper all the way to the train station.  Passing through Security, I got pulled over because my passport number was not correct on the train ticket.  The young woman showed me the discrepancy and I just shrugged.  I didn’t type up the ticket – I didn’t even know they were putting our passport numbers on there!  We had to march over to the supervisor, who examined my passport and Chinese visa very carefully and then let us through.  We got to our gate just as our train was being called. Whew!
So now we are on the overnight sleeper to Kunming, in our comfy lower bunks of a soft sleeper with a door that closes, fresh linens (I presume), and a young man and a young woman texting away on their mobiles on the berths above.  The afternoon is warm (mid 70s) and we can actually see the sun as we leave the city.  Here are some views out the train window.


3/18 – After a bumpy night’s sleep, we arrived in Kunming at 9 am.  The train station is huge, and we have to walk quite a way before we can find a taxi.  Kunming is called Spring City in China, as the weather is always perfect – not too hot and not too cold.  It is a favorite destination for Chinese tourists.  Although there is some smog, the sky is definitely blue!
Jim booked us at a new hotel in the center of the city, which does not appear on any of our maps.  The only clue I have is that one of the exterior pictures of the hotel on the Booking.com website shows a large golden statue of Jesus.  Can’t be too many of those in the middle of Kunming!  Sure enough, we spot the statue, and identify the tall building that must contain our hotel.  It is an insurance company building, in the middle of a construction zone, but we know our hotel is on the 8th floor.  We’re getting pretty good at sleuthing our way around without being able to read the language. 


In the afternoon we checked out the options in our neighborhood – fruit shop, plenty of noodle eateries (not big enough to be called restaurants, just a few tables) of the kind we favor, but no market, super or otherwise, which is too bad, as our hotel room has a fridge and a microwave.
We has supper at a nearby eatery that provided a delicious full meal including soup, tea, two vegetables, a meat entree and rice for 15 yuan ($2.42). The proprietor came over after observing me eating with my chopsticks in my left hand, and tried to get me to take a new pair of chopsticks with my right hand.  I thanked her, but was puzzled.  I wonder if I am offending by using my left hand – I know I would be in India, but this is the first time I’ve been approached here.  She could see the sling on my right arm – this was one of the many times a bit more knowledge of the language would have helped!

Xi’an to Chengdu, China

3/15 – Neither of us got much sleep last night, waiting for the alarm to go off at 5am so we could walk back to the station for our early train. Today we ride 14 hours south to Chengdu.

Unfortunately, according to my research last night, we will not be leaving the pollution behind in Xi’an. We both have headaches, coughs and nasal issues from the smog, and are considering whether to keep trying to find a cleaner place in China, or to just get out of the country. We’re leaning toward the latter.

The crazy thing is these folks don’t think they’re doing enough damage just breathing – they smoke like chimneys. In the elevator, on the train, in restaurants – no smoking signs are displayed and ignored. While I’m ranting, I’ll tell you something even worse – it seems to be perfectly acceptable here in China to hawk and spit. Loudly. All the time, on the street, indoors, into a trashcan. So gross. Watch where you step.

And while I’m at it, toddlers don’t wear diapers here – their pants have little cutouts so they can squat and poop right on the sidewalk. Although their little tushes are cute, still gross. I think I may be over China…  End of rant – sorry!

We had hard sleeper berths on the train. Jim had a middle and I had a lower berth in the six berth compartment. All full. The lights were still out when we got on the train, and we had to ask for help finding the right berth. Much to my dismay, both our berths had already been slept in and recently vacated. No new linens for us. I sat up for an hour, then succumbed to the lure of the pillow, and laid down to catch up on the sleep I had missed last night. Here is a view out the window when I awoke. I believe the yellow is rape, used in making rape seed oil.image

Chengdu was the last stop at 8:40pm, and everybody got off the train. A short taxi ride, and now we are at our hotel, where some drunken teenagers accosted Jim and let him know he was the tallest person they had ever seen. Sigh. These people need to get out more.

3/16 – A good night’s rest, and a typical Chinese breakfast – spicy Szechuan carrots and pickled cabbage, eggs hard boiled in soy sauce and sweet peanuts. Rolls that looked like marshmallows and tasted like air. No coffee or tea in the mornings, but warm milk.

Today we took a taxi to the Wenshu Buddhist Monastery, a peaceful collection of temples and gardens. image


We watched monks playing badminton and observed more people praying than we had in Xi’an.

We met an American professor who lives in China, showing his niece and nephew the sights, and a family from Canada traveling with a private guide. Everyone we speak with shares the opinion that what we are doing – traveling solo – just can’t be done.

There are ponds of fish here, and big black frogs and hundreds of turtles.

The skull of a bodhisattva resides here, according to our resources, and Jim asked repeatedly, but the Chinese didn’t understand what he was asking. The Canadians’ guide understood, but told Jim the skull is not on display. Oh well!  A lovely visit.image

In the afternoon, we walked through a street market, selling everything from pig trotters to pigeons.image


Walking back from supper, there was lots of music in the streets, and we stopped to watch a group of middle-aged women doing a sort of line dance – Chinese Electric Slide!