When they say it’s a hard seat they don’t lie. We took the night train to Datong choosing the cheapest tickets thinking ‘hey it’ll be fine’. it would be if it was during the day. Let us describe the situation: its cramped, the seat back is at right angles it’s not comfortable. The light never goes out and its packed when I say packed I mean there are people who are standing in the aisle all night. So we didn’t’ sleep at all and this I am using as the excuse for the following events. Dave
Half an hour after getting on the train (big mistake in the first place) on our first real adventure Dave suddenly declares that we need to flee the country because we only have a 30 day visa…and we have been in beijing for 32 days.we spend the entire night mixed between panicing and just laughing at ourselves for our joke of a Gap year so far..what with lost luggage, a definite lack of malaria tablets , the loss of our phrasebook, and the leaving of teh very essential phone charger in beijing ,the spots turning up on dave‘s body due to make him bald ..and this ridiculous train journey we wonder if the turquoise we are wearing for safe travel is actually a curse (sorry luce)They charge 500 yuan (about 35 pounds) for everyday you go over ..and it would take us at least three weeks to get out of china..so we decide we have to go back to beijing..the place we already spent the last month in waiting..and wait for a new visa. Or fly straight to Thailand where you don’t need an entry visa. Mostly because we can’t bear to go back to tee and tracy and tell them how stupid we are we decided on the flight. So we arrive in Datong at 7 am having not slept and go and find an internet cafe and caffeine. we spend 3 hours searching and comparing notes on flights prices and trying to work out how we can allow for this extra $500 flight ect..by this point beside ourselves…whole traveling through china cancelled..but even worse…we have to ring up Tracy and Tee. we did. about five minutes later I took out my passport. We have a 90 day visa. After 12 hours of panic and no sleep..there is nothing to panic about. Have to ring up Tracy and tee…again and he laughs. alot. So this is our first major lesson learned – don’t panic until you’ve checked what you’re panicking about – after remembering medication.
Anyway after the panic we could now actually carry on with our trip so this is what we did.very helpful trainstation man arranged us a tour which consisted of a rented taxi for the day and visited the hanging monastery which is a monastery basically hanging off the a mountain cliff just held up by wooden stilts…t was amazing and there was incredible scenery as we had to go up the mountains to see it with huge cliffs on either side of a very dodgy and windy mountain pass. Then went to the the yungang caves which are just outside Datong and have over 50,000 buddas carved into the rock ranging from tiny ones to huge ones. Picures will be coming soon like as soon as i have battery on my camera and the usb cable with me all at the same time.
Hotel good with a great view of the comings and goings on the top floor..from there we observed insane taxi drivers crazy law sense..which seems to be a general trend over here and from there mika also watched a riot outside with lots of angry chinese men which seemed to pivot around two women holding them back who suddenly flipped out and started attacking all the men and eventually had to restrained by several police men..unfortunately no pictures as mika negleted to wake me up to witness this so we only have her word for this event.
In the evening of the first day we went searching for some comfort ‘western food’ after our stressful day and so searched for an apparently expat bar…we didn’t find it and instead got lost in the streets … The next day we took a taxi, pedcar and walked looking for the same place but none of these modes of transport took us to the right place so we resorted to asking some police men in a riot van who very kindly popped us in the back of their van and took us there themselves. when we got to the bar there are no expats, no one speaks english and no food is served like the damn guidebook said it would be…but we ate popcorn and played chinese chess. we’re very happily living off the fruit, meat and all traditional food of the street vendors at the moment as we can’t get food in restaurants due to lack of communicaton, adn any with english menus seem do defy the point…
off to pingyao tomorrow more about that later.