Tag Archives: China

Lugu Lake: Photo Edition

There’s more to Lugu Lake than the Mosuo people.

We stayed at the Lige area of Lugu Lake. Most travellers tend to stay at the LuoShui area of Lugu Lake, but we were advised not to stay there as it is highly commercialised. Lige, however, is increasingly becoming very commercialised as well.

Let’s just let the photos do the talking here:

The view of the Lige area of Lugu Lake

水性杨花 (Shui Xing Yang Hua), the name of this flower and a term used to describe a woman's infidelity

Can you spot the Lugu Ness monster?

There. The Lugu Ness Monster. ie: a really small snake.

Locals barbecuing

My attempt at playing boat woman. It's very hard work.

My friend, HX playing with some of the local kids

Dinner with our Israeli friends

Here's a Labradoodle (Labrador + Poodle. Not sure how that came about). There were two in the hostel we stayed at. One was free to roam around, but this one was chained. Reason according to the hostel owner? He's not "honest" and likely go around to partake in "walking marriages"

Photo credits: Thanks to Seng for some of the photos. Your photographic skills do the place more justice.

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The Mosuo People of Lugu Lake

Leaving Lijang Gu Cheng (Lijiang Old Town) and a 7-hour bumpy bus ride after, we arrived in Lugu Hu (Lugu Lake). Lugu Lake was not like what everyone had raved about. Translucent blue waters and clear cloudless skies? Neither of these was present. What we were treated to instead were dark waters, which only reflected the state of the skies – gloomy, grey and cloudy. We stayed for two days (not by choice, rather because we could not get a seat on the next day’s bus) walking around doing nothing much.  We had wanted to cycle around the lake, but changed our minds when we found out that not only was the lake’s circumference 53 kilometres, the route was an undulating tarred road we had to share with vehicles that passed through the area. That said, the two days spent at Lugu Lake were no less fulfilling and enjoyable for a couple of reasons – the company and the mini history lesson I received.

Lugu Lake is located in the North West region of Yunnan Province. The villages surrounding the lake are home to various ethnic minorities, including the Mosuo people (some 20,000 of them stay in this area). Now, one of the most fascinating aspects about the Mosuo people is that they are probably the only (or at least one of the very few) matriarchal societies that still exist in the entire world.

A bit of a history and culture lesson:

The Matriarchal Society

In Mosuo society, children are under the custody of their mothers, take their mothers’ surnames, and live in their mother’s household. One woman, the “grandmother”, though not necessarily the oldest of her generation, but the strongest, will become the head of the household. In short, the women in the family run the show.

We went to a local's house. This lady introduced herself as "the future head of the household"

So what then do the men do? To quote what a Mosuo man, whom we met who told us stories on the Mosuo culture, said:

“In the Mosuo culture, it is the women’s world, but it’s the men’s paradise.”

Men have no say in the household, but they do have to go out and work, though I’m not too sure what work they have to do. They do not have to manage their children, although they are very much part of their children’s lives. They have no say in their own household, neither do they have a say in their “wives” household. They have no part in the kitchen or in managing finances. Isn’t this then, as the local said, “men’s paradise”?

A Mosuo village

A typical Mosuo house

The Interior of a Mosuo Household

A Mosuo feast

The Walking Marriage

Another interesting fact is that the Mosuo society does not subscribe to a system of marriage that we’re used to – man and woman marry; woman moves into man’s household; man are the head of the household. Instead, the Mosuo man and Mosuo women do not marry and believe in a “walking marriage”.

Picture this: A Mosuo woman at coming-of-age (13 years old) gets her own room. She meets a suitor and if he’s interested, he will go to her room at night, and hang his hat outside the door to indicate that someone is in her room. He must then leave by the morning. This happens every night during their courtship. The day the man is no longer interested in the woman, he will not show up. The day the woman is no longer interested in the man, she closes the door and does not allow him to enter. As simple as that. Hence the term “walking marriage” was borne from the action of the man walking to his partner’s room every night and leaving in the morning.

This may sound like the optimum setting for promiscuity, but in actual fact, apparently some 90% or so Mosuo people stay faithful to their partners once their relationship has been stabilised.

Mosuo women (and one Mosuo man) in their traditional outfits in some touristy dance event we attended.

The History

Historically, the Mosuo people became a matriarchal society as a means of survival. To cut the long story short, every person in the Mosuo household, which typically has 10-20 people (sometimes more), has a role. In the event of a union between man and woman in the Mosuo culture, or rather the stabilising of a relationship since the idea of “marriage” does not exist, neither man nor woman will leave the household. This means that each household will not lose a particular role overnight and will remain strong in numbers in the face of adversity. Many centuries later, this culture remains almost the same.

An old Mosuo woman sitting by Lugu Lake

Those are three pigs deboned and preserved for future consumption, a tradition in a Mosuo household

Some local Mosuo kids we met when exploring the area

I had first heard of the Mosuo people in a documentary I had chanced upon on TV some years back and was most intrigued by its culture and the idea of “walking marriage”. Having known of their existence, it was most insightful for me to get a taste of  the Mosuo culture, interact with actual Mosuo people and see their stories come to life.

And here’s one ethnic minority group in China slightly better understood. Now another 54 to go.

Photo credits: Thanks to Seng for some of the photos. Your photographic skills do the place more justice.

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Qinghai (10-13 June): Of Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned

Of my entire travel so far, Qinghai was probably the biggest “mistake”. Not to say that Qinghai (the 4th largest region in China) as a travel destination is one that should not do. In fact, Qinghai, which sits on the Northern most part of the Tibetian Plateau, is home to China’s biggest lake, Qinghai Hu. Mountains, rivers, yaks, sheep, vast expanses of grasslands add to Qinghai’s picturesque scenery. Home to many Tibetian and Hui people due to its close location to Tibet and Xinjiang respectively, one is able to experience Tibetian culture in its many Buddhist monasteries and satisfy one’s palate for Muslim food in the scores of Hui restaurants (selling kebabs and such) that line the streets of Xining, Qinghai province’s capital.

Fields of yellow flowers

Tent-shaped Tibetian prayer flags

Mountains

Qinghai Hu

Pink flowers

Yummy Mutton

And all this “postcard-perfectness” and mix of cultures would precisely prove to be Qinghai’s very problem. Or rather, my problem with the lovely place.

We returned to Xining after making a (pretty large) detour to Xi’an. I had barely read up on what to do in Xining and its surrounding areas prior to reaching there. HX and I were set to reach Xining the same morning as our friend, Seng, but his flight was cancelled, unbeknowst to him until he got to Chengdu, and he eventually had to buy another plane ticket for another Xining-bound flight later in the same day.

Since we now had some free time, we spent the day reading up on what to do in Xining and exploring the vicinity of our hostel. Truth be told, I didn’t think that there was much to do in Xining and already started to dread this leg of journey. The main reason, for me at least, for getting back to Xining, was to meet Seng; he’d already gotten his plane ticket there even before we started our entire trip (and Seng, if you’re reading this, no I’m not blaming you!).

We were planning our day trip to Qinghai Hu with two HongKongers we’d met at the hostel when the lady boss, who’s clearly very well-travelled and knowledgeable about the Qinghai province, decided to educate us on what to do in Qinghai.

To cut the long story short, though we were initially torn on whether to do a more thorough trip of Qinghai or stick to our original plan of going to Yunnan, the next morning, we found ourselves in a huge landcruiser that would take us on a 10-day trip through the Eastern and South-Eastern areas of Qinghai, even supposedly reaching areas usually inaccessible to foreigners. Since we are ethnically Chinese, and even sound like we are from Guangdong, as many have thought throughout our time in China, getting to these areas would not be that difficult. I personally thought doing this trip would be good as many of us often spend our travels just “touching and going” the places we visit, barely touching the surface, never staying long enough to experience the culture.

Sun Moon temple

We had probably made a rash decision and having this initial hesitance to make the trip meant that we had already started the road trip on the wrong footing. Throughout the first day of the road trip, I found that I was trying very hard to convince myself that the grasslands and the animals that occupied them were different from the barren highlands of Tibet I had recently spent seven days exploring. When we reached our destination for the night, Xia He (just outside of Qinghai province and part of the Gansu Province), I already knew that this trip was not going to bring me something new; Xia He looked like any Tibetian town we had visited in the week we had in Tibet.

The interior of the guesthouse in Xia He

HX once said that she organises her trip in “phases”. I somewhat organise any trip in “phases” too, and having to revisit a “phase” that was already, to me, complete, did not provide the feeling of something fresh and new. The nature, the Hui culture we had a taste of in Xi’an’s Muslim Quarters (which we visted everyday during our time in Xi’an), the Tibetian words, and of course, the monasteries, seemed oh-so-familiar, and not in a reminiscently-good way.No offence to the Buddhists, especially the Tibetian Buddhists, but after visiting five monasteries in Tibet, one can really get tired of visiting them. In Europe, one may complain of church/museum-fatigue. For me here, I started experiencing monastery-fatigue.

One of many Buddhist stupas

We visited Labrang Monastery in Xia He and were led by a guide/Lama, who explained the varoius chapels and histories of Buddhism and I found myself zoning out most of the time as I’d already heard all these before. The only time I paid attention was when HX was translating some of what the guide was saying in to English. After all, she too had heard all these before, and as she said, could also well play tour guide herself.

Labrang Monastery

Lamas

Lamas' dance rehearsal

Halfway during the monastery visit, I told HX that unless the next monastery looked really impressive, I’d probably be giving it a miss. She then something along the lines of:  “Don’t you wish we went to Yunnan instead?”, to which I replied: “Well, if we are going to visit another five monasteries, then perhaps.”

Her reply? “I think there are really five more monasteries on this road trip.”

This simple conversation set off many unsaid truths that we had both not dared to voice out before. Over the next hour, we began discussing on whether we wanted to continue the trip. For me, I knew that the latter part of the trip was probably going to be pretty exciting – the places we were going to visit sounded beautiful – but I wasn’t sure if I could survive the rest of the trip with the monasteries and such. Even then, having seen loads of mountains and nature in Nepal and Tibet, I wasn’t certain that these views were going to excite that much. For HX, she felt that she wasn’t seeing or learning anything new and was afraid that she’d just sleep through most of the road trip, as she had already done so during the first day of the trip. And we were also not sure we would actually learn much about the culture of the area.

After much deliberation, we decided to turn back. It was now or never and we knew it was now.

Seng also said that he’d rather he have two happy travel companions and wasn’t completely surprised that we’d chosen to turn back; we did begin the trip with much hesitance after all.

Our driver was kind enough to allow us to turn back. We were very apologetic about it, but we knew that we couldn’t go through the trip. If we did, we’d just be doing it for the sake of it, going through the motion of the trip rather than fully enjoying it.

The lady boss of the hostel, who arranged the trip for us, was obviously not very pleased, and we did try our best to explain to her our rationale for turning back. She felt that our decision to stop the trip was not well-thought out and felt that we had made the decision based on our preconceptions of what we’d see if we had continued with the trip. Perhaps she’s partly right, but after making the decision, we were happier, and knew that the decision was indeed a right one.

We then headed straight to Qinghai Hu instead, a place we were supposed to go at the end of the road trip. Our decision to stay overnight there, though we were advised against it, would be our best time in Qinghai yet.

Though the weather was not to our favour – cloudy skies, strong winds, and rains – we had great fun. We dined and chatted with the very hospitable Tibetian family (旦却家)who owned the guesthouse, learned to eat Tsampa (a form of Tibetian barley flour mixed with butter and yak milk, something the Tibetians eat regularly, akin to the rice that Chinese eat) properly, drank Chang wine, slept in a Tibetian tent and invited ourselves to join the lady boss of the guesthouse on a one-hour trek uphill to dig Chong Cao(虫草/Chong Cao, as its name suggests is a worm that digs itself into soil in the winter, and somehow becomes a plant/grass in Summer. It has high medicinal value, and is really expensive because of the manual labour required to find and dig it out.).

Mother and daughter cooking their yak noodle meal (with son-in-law in foreground)

Father having fun playing with the 'enlarge' function on Seng's iPhone

Tsampa (before kneading)

Seng 'making' his Tsampa

Even our driver thought that we were crazy enough to stay in the tents in the outside when there was proper house we could stay in. And he thought we were even crazier to brave the rain, cold, and altitude, to make the trek up to the mountains to do the back-breaking job of digging for the very well-hidden Chong Cao. Though we didn’t find any ourselves, the experience itself is something I wouldn’t trade for. Chong Cao is not always available and can only be found some days in summer and we were fortunate to be there at the correct time.

The Tibetian -styled tents we stayed in for the night

The sunrise on Qinghai Hu

HX and Seng searching for Chong Cao

The expert digging out the Chong Cao

Chong Cao

Overall, we only “wasted” one day (and admittedly, quite a lot of money). Perhaps it would be too unfair to say that this trip was a “mistake”; we did learn from this trip that we, as travellers, need variety and can’t keep doing/seeing the same thing.

I’m not sure whether I’ll be back in Qinghai in the future, though HX and Seng said that they’re likely to come back soon. But I’m certain that if and when we do make this trip, we’d enjoy it much better.

Credits to Seng for some of his photos

_____________________________

Tips for travelling in Qinghai Province, China:

Qinghai is famed for Qinghai Hu (Qinghai Lake) but there’s more to Qinghai than Qinghai Hu. If you can afford the time, do spend some time travelling around the province. It was just unfortunate that we did not plan our trip properly, if not we would have probably enjoyed ourselves more.

There is not a lot of information about Qinghai online and even Lonely Planet has not written much about it till this year; Lonely Planet only recently published a Qinghai guidebook. However, from my understanding, the guidebook is only sold in Beijing and only available in the Chinese language.

Places to stay in Xining:

Sunshine Pagoda International Youth Hostel [Website]

Sunshine Pagoda International Youth Hostel is more of a home than a guesthouse. If you are looking for some place cosy and comfortable to stay, this would be it. Conveniently located above some bars (they are not rowdy not to worry) and a walking distance away from the popular food street of Xining, one will never grow hungry, or thirsty.

The lady boss of the hostel is very hospitable and knowledgeable; ask her anything about travelling in Qinghai and she will be able to give you a good response. (Though if you have read my post, you would have known we probably did piss her off, but she and her hostel still deserve a thumbs-up). She will be able to help you arrange for transportation to travel around Qinghai.

Do note that more locals travellers than foreign travellers stay here, and if you’re afraid of cats, do beware. Other than that, a great place to stay. Read the website and online reviews for more information.

Xining Lete Hostel [Website]

While we did not stay here, Xining Lete Hostel would have been our next choice. The hostel has received quite a number of good reviews online.

Places to stay at Qinghai Hu:

There are loads of hotels to stay at the touristy part of Qinghai Hu, located along the southern part of the lake. However, those hotels are probably expensive, and according to our guide, one cannot get the best view of the lake from that area.

If you are looking for a home-stay of sort, get out of that touristy area, and move along to the western part of the lake. Look for a family called the 旦却 (Dan Que) family. Unfortunately, I’m only able to provide the details in Chinese:

旦却家(Dan que family) [More reviews about them all over Google]

My review about this place is written all over this blog post.

Address: 青海省海南州县石乃乡尕曰拉村环湖西路14.3公里处

Number: 13897146734

Zip Code: 813000

Here is a map of Qinghai Hu. The guesthouse is located at the area where the red dot/green highlights are:

Qinghai Hu

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Like a Drug

Written on: 14 June 2010, 20:00. Somewhere in between Xining and Chengdu.

14 June. 16 days before it’s time to return home. I’m now 11 hours into my 25-hour train ride towards Chengdu, where in the following day, I will take another 20-hour train ride to Kunming to begin the last leg of my journey travelling through some parts of Yunnan. How fast time has passed.

We were planning our itinerary and I came to realise that there’s not time to do both Yunnan and Chengdu as planned. Since it doesn’t quite make sense to leave from Chengdu yet not explore the city and its surrounding sights, I’m considering extending my trip for up to a week. I’m not sure whether I’ll eventually do it since, firstly, I may not be able to extend my visa since I’m holding a “group visa” and not a regular individual tourist visa (result of travelling from Nepal to Tibet). Next, when I called the parents to inform them of my possible plans, they were more keen to have me back, especially since I would be doing the extra days alone.

To be honest, I feel as if I could travel forever. And these potential plans for extension is perhaps just my form of escape from real life and the harsh truth that comes next month, where I may well already be married to my new husband, named Work.

A paragraph in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, “Eat, Pray, Love”, which I’m halfway through right now, sums it up perfectly:

But is it such a bad thing to live like this for just a little while? Just for a few months of one’s life, is it so awful to travel through time with no greater ambition than to find the next lovely meal? Or to learn how to speak a language for no higher purpose than that it pleases your ear to hear it? Or to nap in a garden, in a patch of sunlight, in the middle of the day, right next to your favourite fountain? And then to do it again the next day?

Or in my own context, to be sitting here in the middle compartment of my hard-sleeper berth, in my third long-distance train ride in two weeks, writing this entry while my friends HX and Seng are playing a game of “Tap of War” on Seng’s iPhone just below me? To watch the world go by from the bus window? To look forward to a fabulous meal of noodles, kebabs, and milk tea? And another awesome meal of  hotpot and beer?

Travelling is like a drug that one can’t wean off. And like a drug addict, I’m craving for more, looking forward to the next dose of  “days of travel”, and every new destination, a new drug, waiting to be consumed, to give me, the “user”  a new high.

But my supply is running short. If I decide not to extend, or am unable to, 16 doses is all I have left. Then “cold turkey” it would be, till the next round of supply comes in, and who knows when that would ever be.

Update (17 June): I did not manage to extend my group visa, so looks like the “supply” will indeed run out come 30 June.

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Of life, beer, and the people we meet.

It’s amazing how much can happen in a single train ride. For starters, I’m not even in Xining (Qinghai province) now, but in Xi’an (Shaanxi province) right now. And in case you were wondering, no, we did not board the wrong train thinking that Xi’an was in fact Xining given the similarities of their names. And no, we also did not miss our stop and ended up somewhere an additional 12-hour train ride away from my original destination.

 

When we first boarded our train, HX and I discovered we weren’t even seated next to each other; we were separated by an aisle. She was sitting next to these two Swiss girls who were also in the same tour group as we were in in Tibet, while I was seated next to an old man heading to Lanzhou. ‘Fate’ had it when the two Swiss girls, deciding that a 48-hour train ride to Beijing was too long to endure while seated, managed to obtain an upgrade to “hard sleeper” class, and so, HX and I shifted in and took over their seats. Seated opposite us were two Tibetian students who were also about our age and another Han Chinese guy. 

Because of that now one empty seat and our ‘prime’ location at the start of the carriage near the train attendants’ office, there were always two train attendants who always took the opportunity to skive and chatted with all of us seated there. Our conversations somehow always revolved around HX’s and my trip to Xining as well as life in Singapore. Everyone kept asking us why we were heading to Xining when there’s not much to do there. The two Tibetian guys, who studied in Xi’an for four years and were heading back for graduation, as well as the Han Chinese guy, who lived near Xi’an, told us that Xi’an was more fun and even the two train attendants agreed. 

Crazy as it seemed at that point, within the first eight hours of our ride, we knew that we had to go to Xi’an. We figured that since our friend, Seng, was only going to meet us in Xining on the 10th, meaning that we would be staying in Xining for at least a good six days, it was more wise for us to head elsewhere first. And, of course, the decision was made easier now that we knew two people who were practically local to Xi’an, and with whom we got along with very well – The Tibetian guys. 

Though they initially spoke to each other in Tibetian and we spoke to each other in English, we hit it off quite quickly in our only common language – Mandarin. 

We discovered over the course of our trip how generous Tibetians are. Perhaps it is due to their Buddhist nature or their good upbringing, but they never hesistated to share with us everything, sometimes even forcing us to accept the food and drinks they seemed to have plenty of. Air-dried yak meat straight from the bone, gua zi, chicken feet snacks, milk tea, chang wine, Budweiser beer, more Budweiser beer, HuangHe Beer (okay you get it – a hell a lot of beer). Oh and cigarettes too, which we kindly declined.’ 

Eating air-dried Yak meat straight from the bone

Eating air-dried Yak meat straight from the bone

Chang, Yak and Chicken Feet

Chang, Yak and Chicken Feet

These people really knew how to enjoy a good train ride. All they had with them were a luggage full of food and drinks, and perhaps just about one extra set of clothes.  

We spent most of our time hanging out with them at the lunch carriage where we drank and drank a lot. Did I mention we drank a lot? You really don’t want to know that we finished 31 bottles x 330ml of Budweisers during the 36-hour ride. Whoops, I didn’t just reveal that. And that does not even include the box of Huanghe beer they bought at a stop, and their stash of Tibetian chang wine. Interestingly, most of the other beer-drinking people in the lunch carriage were Tibetian, and boy did they drink a lot. 

First day of Budweisers

First day of Budweisers

HuangHe Beer

HuangHe Beer

Second day of Budweisers

Second day of Budweisers

Tiger 'Crystal' Beer. All 24 bottles. At some bar in Xi'an.

Tiger 'Crystal' Beer. All 24 bottles. At some bar in Xi'an.

Pretending to be Yaks

Pretending to be Yaks

  

My alcoholic friends would indeed be very proud. 

I guess when beer only costs 10yuan (about S$2) a bottle, it really isn’t that inaccessible. And, to my defense, the beer here is a lot lighter than what we’re used to back home. 

 Bonding over alcohol and some gua zi like old men playing chess at a HDB void deck, four of us quickly realised how ‘fated’ we were. Had the Swiss girls not have upgraded, we probably would have spent most of our time just speaking to them and not much to the Tibetian guys, especially since they were initially not sitting directly opposite us, and we will probably not be here in Xi’an right now. Also, almost the whole carriage was full of people who were much older than we were, yet we were seated so close to each other. How well we connected with each other, and what fun times we had. 

 Before this starts sounding like some epic love story, it really isn’t, but one about how fast life changes and the people we meet along the way who make life more enjoyable. And I’m really glad I got to meet these two people. 

I was just telling HX today that there were a few times in Tibet when I wished we had stayed in Nepal a couple more days since we had a few days to spare anyways. But I’m glad that we left as planned and travelled through Tibet, and got onto the right train from Lhasa at the right time and met our two new friends – Ciren Qujia and Tudan Yixi (direct translations of their Tibetian names).  

  

Ciren Qujia & Tudan Yixi

Ciren Qujia & Tudan Yixi. Cant seem to flip the image.

Photo of a photo taken at the Big Wild Goose Pagoda fountain show. Pardon its blurness

Photo of a photo taken at the Big Wild Goose Pagoda fountain show. Pardon its blurness

Last photo before we had to say goodbye for good.

Last photo before we had to say goodbye for good.

Back to travelling to Xi’an. So, we smsed the owner of our hostel in Xining to inform him of our delay, extended our ticket to Xi’an, and hoped hard that we would be able to find accomodation in Xi’an. So here I am writing this in my journal from my Xi’an hostel dorm room while HX is already snoring (literally. At least she’s not sleep-talking/laughing. Yet, that is.) 

We’ve been here a day (at the point of writing in my journal. And I digress: HX really did just sleep talk, asking if I heard some echo.) and I’m pretty sure we’ll be at least a little sad to leave Xi’an come Wed. 

But I’m learning to accept that’s how life really is: New destinations. New life stories. New amazing people to meet.

 

More random photos: 

View of the endless plains from the Tibet-Qinghai railway

View of the endless plains from the Tibet-Qinghai railway

  

The tracks

The tracks

Some of the people from the Tibet tour. The only ones remaining just before we alighted.

Some of the people from the Tibet tour. The only ones remaining just before we alighted.

PS: We survived the 36-hour ride pretty well. Our bums are still intact, thankfully! I’m not so sure about our livers though. 

 

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Behold the beauty of Tibet

Here are some photos to make you jealous:

Just a teaser. No captions or descriptions. Will take more about the trip later. There’s Nepal to talk about too of course. (Okay, fine. I’m just lazy now. It’s a lot of  effort.)

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24-Hour Train Ride to Xining?

Train ticket to Xining

Yep that’s right. On “hard seat” class no less.

God save our souls.

After a five day road trip through the highlands of Tibet, and another two days spent in Lhasa, we’ll be leaving Tibet tomorrow morning to catch a 24-hour train ride to Xining, in the Qinghai province of China.

I’m  really fearing the ride to be honest. I initially thought that the ride would be a long 30 hours, but even if it’s actually “only” 24 hours, I can imagine that it is going to be a painful ride: Sitting-down-for-24-hours-and-not-being-able-to-lie-down-to-sleep painful. 

The only time I’ve taken such a long train ride was two years ago when my dad, sis and I took a 17-hour train ride into Kiruna (North of Sweden, somewhere in the artic circle). I remember it being rather torturous, and back then, we had a sleeper berth, and tomorrow, it’s going to a seat, a “hard seat” (whatever hard means really.)

Earlier today, while shopping for food for the ride since we figured that the food sold on the train is probably going to be really expensive, it almost felt as if we were stocking up for war:

Cup noodles for 2 meals? Check
Bread for breafkast? Check
Drinks (water and other drinks) to last the ride? Check
Other snacks in case we’re bored/hungry/itchy mouth? Check

Of course the main consolation is that I’m saving 50USD by taking the seat, which will probably cover my accomodation in Xining. Also, the scenery from the oxygen-pumped train (yep that’s right) as it goes through the Tibetian plateau is supposed to be AMAZING. Besides, being in a railway that has been deemed as an astronomical engineering feat would probably be an experience in itself. And at the risk of schadenfreude, our two friends, ZB and Lek, who travelled in Nepal and Tibet with us, are taking a 42-hour train ride to Chengdu on a “hard seat” the following day. Good luck to them man. Good luck to us, especially our bums.

Will let you know if I survive the ride.

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