Wednesday, January 1, 2020

17 Chengdu - Yichang.... A Claytons Bullet Train Ride

Today we left Chengdu for a bullet train ride to Yichang where we would board the Yangtze Gold River Cruise ship.

Once at the station William our tour escort suggested that we stock up on some supplies before boarding the train for our 8 hour ride.  The Contiki group headed to Hungry Jacks and I went to a small super market to pick our "just add hot water" supplies.  Cup a Noodles for food and Coffee, that is also called Milk Tea, that comes complete with straw and a baggie full of those pearls that are becoming so popular... you will take note that the straw is wide enough for these little jelly's of sweetness to fit through.

Hot water dispensers are situated through out the train and if game, a lady walks up and town the aisle with a food trolley selling hot meals.

With bags at the ready it is a race against time to board the train once it pulls up and you hope that you are standing at the right end of the platform.  There is a small luggage storage cupboard at each end of the carriages but overhead shelves are large enough as long as you haven't brought your big 85cm suitcase. You face the same challenge when you disembark, but lucky we had William to have us all inplace when we came to a stop.

Wondering why I headed this the "claytons" bullet train, that is because this route would be one of the slowest in the country.  Because of the height of the tracks trains can't go as fast as those in other parts ( I think that was the reason ) plus as you get closer to Yichang it gets quite mountainous, so you want to be "coming round the mountain", not over shooting it .... well it sounds good.

The rain didn't let up today  and it was fascinating to watch the ever changing landscape passing us by. 
Whilst I miserably tried to take pictures through rain spattered windows the kids managed a game  of sidewards Phase 10 to help pass the time away.

16 Huanglongxi Ancient Town - Largest Ancient town in Sichuan!

Just when you think that there is nothing else to see today, but they throw in this gorgeous ancient town! More like a folkloric culture centre, you walk down the main cobbled street bordered with small shops and stalls showcasing their arts, crafts and of course foods...

At the start of the main street is the gate which represents a dragons head. The large spray of water shooting out of it's mouth represents it opposite, Fire!

A small man made stream cascades down the centre of the street which represents the dragons body and then at the very end you will see it's tail descending into the lake below.

As an extra, this really turned out to be a real highlight.  sorry for all the pictures... but I couldn't choose.. LOL


And there is the tail!!

15 In Australia it would be Macdonalds, in China it's Ten Fu's Tea House

Our drive included a comfort stop. The big neon yellow letters are the only similarity it has with our golden arches.  Here we found toilets, hot food and of course tea.....

Tea leaves, tea pots, things to dunk in your tea, you name it they had it...

And a couple of lovely shop assistants who were happy to pose with this little Aussie girl.

14 The Leshan Giant Buddha

Farms along the way
Today was a big day, it started a very long drive through the Sichuan countryside to visit to what is noted to be the tallest Buddha statue in the world. Being winter there were no blue skies, but then how much of it is also cause by pollution that seems to plague China.

Toll gates Chinese style
Leshan is a pretty little town on the banks of the Minjiang river. With a mix of old and architecture.

Before arriving we were given a warning for something, but it kind of got lost in translation, or maybe I was not listening properly.

Once at Leshan we boarded a small boat to for the short journey across the river to see this great Chinese wonder....  ahh the penny dropped, now I remember what the warning was....

This is what we should have seen                    and this is what we saw!
 Being the off season the Big Buddha was under maintenance.

The Leshan Buddha was the brain child of a Chinese Monk called Hiatong.  As the Buddha looked out to the confluence of the rivers Min and Dudu, it would calm their turbulent waters which plagued the ships that travelled down.  Little did he realise as fate would have it, the large amount of rubble carved from the rock face and deposited in the river would do just that by altering the currents.

From the water you could see other carvings within the rock face as well as the stair case that you can climb to enjoy the views from up above.

It is now 12 months later and I realised how significant seeing this was.

We took the grandchildren to see the movie "Abominable" and who should star in it... but Leshan himself!!

13 A new place to sleep - Holiday Inn Chengdu High-Tech and a traditonal Sichuan Hot Pot

Crown Plaza - Chengdu West
This trip was organised as a famil, so SNA wanted us to experience all the opportunities that China had to offer.  This also meant trying out a few of their accommodation options.

First it was the classy Crowne Plaza and now they have moved us to the more standard option of Holiday Inn.  As far as accommodation standards, there was not much of a difference between the two, well the Holiday Inn room did not smell of smoke as bad as the room at the Crowne Plaza.

There is another Crowne Plaza (Chengdu West) that is connected to this Holiday Inn and they took us for a tour of both.  As guests of Holiday Inn you were able to use the facilities connected to the Crowne Plaza including bars and restaurants.  In public areas there was a visual difference between the two, but we were more than happy with our accommodation.

Holiday Inn - High Tech

On our second evening at the hotel we were treated to traditional Sichuan Hot Pot, not our first experience as you may remember my post from our first night here....

Basically we chose our base soup, and then chose our meats and vegetables.  Like a fondue you drop your chosen ingredients into your pot and let it simmer over your personal burner.  All I can say is lucky we had several fellow travellers of Chinese persuasion to help us along.  It was delicious and not one baby frog was harmed in the process...