So as I write this blog post I am currently on a train. A 24-hour night train heading towards Chengdu! It’s our first night train of the trip. I think we’ll have about 5 in total.
Similar to the night bus this train has bunk beds (sets of 3) on the left in sections across a carriage with a walk way/dining area the other side.
Now I was lucky enough to get a bottom bunk – this sits a foot above the ground with plenty of head space and a table. But as I placed all my stuff down, a small Asian man sat on my bed and there he stayed sat with me for a good 30 mins. I must have rechecked my ticket about 5 times unsure if I had stumbled across the wrong bed. I wasn’t entirely sure if the two bottom bunks that face each other get used as sofa’s during the day…but after a late night of our last night in Yangshou and only 3 hours of sleep, I was ready to lay down without this Chinese dude! As soon as he popped to the toilet I layed across my bed to mark my territory.
This train was actually really nice in comparison to the grotty 12 hour night bus we took from HK to Yangshou. There’s plenty of space and the sheets look like they’ve been cleaned. Also as they’re so fond of noodles in China the train has pumps that offer hot water – we purchased plenty of supermarket food for the loooong journey so I was fully stocked up.
During the ‘day’ of the train we played cards, chatted, chilled out our aim was to treat the day like a normal day and sleep at night – worked a treat and it just felt like I had had a lazy Sunday in bed.
At 10pm it was lights out and I finally got a full night of sleep before arriving at Chendu at 1pm.
Day one in Chengdu we went for a Sichuan hotpot dinner. This is where a giant pot of spicy/oily soup cooks in the middle of a table and you’re brought lots of meat and veg to cook in the pot to share.
Personally I wasn’t impressed by this hotpot, I love spice but this literally blew my mind and burnt my tongue and all my taste buds. It was a good experience though and unlimited drinks, food and ice cream. Apparently Chengdu is well known for having the most beautiful women because of the spicy food being good for your skin.
The next day we visited PANDA’S!!! I was really excited about this as it was one of my top 9 bucket list challenges for travelling. I didn’t hold a real panda as it would have costed £200, (that’s like 2 flights around ! Asia), but l did hold one at a gift shop. Which is almost the same right? This Panda centre wasn’t what I thought it would be – it was very much a zoo for Pandas filled with hundreds of tourists. I don’t know why I expected anything different.
That afternoon we took a 2 and a half hour mini bus journey to the world’s biggest Buddha. I really like visiting Bhuddas in China as there isn’t a set ‘religion’ here that’s thrusted upon you, more so a spiritual/positive outlook on life. We learnt that there are three sacrifices a person must make to reach enlightenment:
One: Wandering thoughts
I don’t think I’ll ever achieve this but its definitely interesting and I’d like to learn more about it.
Chengdu is very different to Yangshou. It’s more of a lively city and if there are tourists they are only here to visit the panda centre. The locals here also live a different way of life. The people’s park we found was another planet to me, filled with music, dancing, costumes and loud singing. Now this was a Monday afternoon and my first question to our tour guide after exploring was why aren’t these people at work? He told me many people were retired but also that life in Chengdu is for living not for working. Fair enough!
That evening we found an awesome little local restaurant. We were drawn the the happy smily man outside of it making fresh noodles for each meal. The food was incredible and all for just £1.40.
I’m now officially one week into this trip and I couldn’t be happier. I feel completely different like I’m going back in time to my old self, almost like it’s freshers week at University all over again and I have new friends to get to know and a lot to learn about anything and everything. Before I left our tour guide signed my travel book – he wrote the message in Mandarin but I believe it translates to ‘Don’t worry about the future, forget the past; follow your heart’. Wise words.