China, China! You crazy country!
When traveling in China, first I was overwhelmed by the impressions that flew into my head.
My friend Ben and I cycled his tandem bike into Kashgar, the first big city after the border, and the whole city was screaming at us. Everything went BAHHHHH!
Bright lights and colourful signs are illuminating every building and trying to catch your eye while at the same time all kind of interesting vehicles honk at you from every direction also trying to get your attention. And while passing some street food stands the smell of car fume is getting mixed with the smell of spiced barbecue a lá “stuff on a stick”. And then I got amused by the view of some typical Chinese girls who are constantly wearing their face mask looking like if they would be wearing their underwear in the face.
What’s really great in China is the food. The best food I got on the markets. It’s cheap as dirt, you see what you are getting and most of the time it’s very tasty. A little more adventurous is going to a restaurant. The menu all in Chinese, you never know what you are getting until you make the first bite. So sometime you are lucky and pointed at something really delicious or you are not so lucky and get a dish that tastes like dog food. But I was always happy to not get dog served. The worst thing I had, was when Ben and I got invited to a wedding in the ancient city of Feng Huang where they made us eat everything. From different strange parts of meat to chicken legs. It might be true that in China they eat really everything but most people don’t. I never met someone who likes eating dog!
Anyway, the best food I had in Sichuan province. The food there is famous for having Sichuan pepper which makes your mouth numb – what a sensation in your mouth!
Pig face, chicken feet and duck head
So after we cycled into Kashgar Ben decided to end his bike trip there. His tandem bike Cindy found some new owners, two kids on the street who couldn’t believe that they just got a cool tandem bike for free, and we had to find new means of transportation. Hitchhiking didn’t really work for us – I think our boobies were just too small. So we changed to the train which is the best for traveling on budget in China – especially if you want to cross the whole country with the one month visa and still want to see something.
Anyway, taking a train in China is always a great experience, particularly if you take the cheapest available ticket. Usually that’s a standing ticket.
For the two-day train ride from Jiayuguan to Chengdu it was an adventure on its own. Usually you will still get a seat – not on this train though. So we did it like the locals. Eat on the floor, spit on the floor and then sleep on the floor. The best places for sleeping are under the seats while others sleep on the bin, the sink or wherever a place is left.
Hitchhiking attempt – the signs say ‘seeking a ride’ and Lanzhou
Chinese train experience
Communicating with the Chinese was the worst I ever experienced. Barley no one speaks English, or they are to shy to speak and just run away. And since most Chinese have very bad imagination skills explaining something or making gestures doesn’t work. And when you tell them that you don’t understand a shit, they will repeat it shouting louder at you. And when you tell them that you still don’t understand a shit, they write the whole sentence down – in Chinese. 🙂
Going sightseeing is a lot of fun in China. Every beautiful place is crowded with Chinese tourists which love paying expensive tours. And besides that they love their fences! So everywhere you have to pay expensive entries. If you want to see sand dunes in the desert you have to pay entry because they fenced in half of the desert. If you want to go hiking on a beautiful mountain you have to pay entry because they fenced in the whole mountain. In some places they even charge you entry to go into the old town of a city. We just told them, we are not going to pay, we have our hostel in there and it was fine.
Later we went to the sand dunes in the Taklamakan desert. But we refused to pay the 20,- USD entry and just climbed the fence.
In the Taklamakan Desert
Chinese guy taking his camel for a walk
China has loads of polluted mega cities where money rules (more than 40 cities with a population over 2 million), and besides that it has nice places for sightseeing full with Chinese tourists and where you feel more like in Disneyland, but if you get off the beaten track China was some really beautiful place where you can still get the feeling of authentic China.
Spiky mountains in Xingping