28 days away
1,400 km / 870 miles since last post
22,397 km / 13,917 miles total
The alarm was set for 5am this morning as we had to get off of our big boat before it left around 6am. The first thing I heard when I woke up was the sound of rats scurrying across the roof of our cabin. It made me jump at first as I thought they were actually inside our cabin!
Things didn't get much better once we switched on the lights, only to find a huge half-dead cockroach right next to my bed! Not pleasant at all. Two days was certainly long enough on this boat.
We met the other guys in the group at 5:30pm, and got off our boat to wait in the lounge for our speedboat. Unfortunately our boat wasn't due for another hour, so we had to wait in the cold and dirty lounge for this time. This place really wasn't pleasant with food and rubbish on the floor, and not helped by the fact that Chinese people kept coming in and spitting everywhere and staring at our group for most of the time we were there. I can't quite understand why we are such a novelty and why they have to be as rude as they are. It is becoming a little irritating now.
It was a relief when our speedboat arrived. This journey would be around 2.5 hours to take us back to where we first boarded the boat on the first day of our Three Gorges tour. They had a Chinese film being played on the boat, and it was really cold as people kept opening and shutting the doors to the toilets situated outside. Everyone was feeling exhausted from having to be up so early this morning, but it was difficult to get any proper sleep because of the cold and the noise.
This speedboat was another great example of the lack of health and safety in China. At the back of the boat just outside they had two large drums of diesel being stored there, and when Stu nipped outside to use the toilet he saw that people were just standing and smoking right next to these barrels. Unbelievable!
Once we arrived back on dry land we had to take a bus back to Yichang, which we shared with some other Chinese tourists. Then from Yichang we were due to get another bus to take us to the train station. However, we had about twenty minutes to kill before the bus would arrive, and all of us by now being so tired and hungry and pretty sick of the pot noodles, headed for the McDonalds restaurant just down the road. Stu and I did not feel good about eating McDonalds as it's not something we would normally eat, but in a state of tiredness and hunger it was the most appealing thing at that moment in time.
Loaded up with bad calories, we then walked back up the road to catch our bus. Luckily this was private for us so we had lots of space to spread out, and some of us managed to get some sleep along the way.
We arrived at the train station around 4.5 hours later, and had around an hour to wait for our train. As this would be an overnight train we needed to sort out some food for dinner. Unfortunately, the only choices for dinner were KFC, McDonalds, a place called Dicos (which looked like KFC) or buying some noodles in a packet. The thought of having another pot noodle was so unappealing that we actually decided to have a KFC. It felt pretty disgusting having a second junk food meal in one day, but we were left with very little option and we were all really hungry.
While we sat in the lounge eating our food and waiting for our train, we became aware very quickly that a lot of Chinese people were staring at us. I appreciate that we must be somewhat of a curiosity here, but when you have people continually staring at you, when you are eating food too, it becomes really irritating. Sometimes they would lean over and look at books you were reading, and at one stage someone was looking at what I was writing in my diary. One woman even pointed at us and then laughed with her friend, and continued to whisper things to her friend and laugh. She might as well have said it out loud as we wouldn't be able to understand her anyway! I found this really annoying and was counting down the minutes until we could board the train, so we could be out of sight from all these people. The staring and pointing was really starting to try my patience.
To my great relief we boarded the train around 7:30pm and departed for Guilin. We had one whole sleeper to ourselves, but two of us had to go into a different car as Ricky was unable to get all the tickets together. Louise and Greg kindly volunteered to take the beds in the separate car - and ended up sharing with one woman who had a couple of chickens in a cage and a guy who snored 'like Jabba the hut'!
I felt a lot better once we were settled on the train, and no longer a novelty for all the Chinese to stare and point at. Most of us sat on the bottom bunks and listened to some music, had a bit of a chat. Lights went out around 10pm, and we were all pretty tired so went to bed straight away. Stu and Jo both wanted to top bunks, so I slept on the middle bunk opposite Nick. Tyson and Tegan took the bottom bunks.
It had felt like a really long day today, as all we have done is travelled. I think the Three Gorges was an OK place to visit, and it was a novelty to stay on a boat. However, it was a shame that it took up three days of our trip to do it (including one whole day of travelling). The gorges weren't as impressive as Milford Sound in New Zealand, and it felt like a lot of travelling for a relatively small amount of time actually viewing the gorges. The gorges themselves, if I am being truly honest, are not that impressive either.
It's all part of the experience though!