A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: JonoElias


Our Panda friends

semi-overcast 16 °C

So we set off from Xi'an at 10pm and headed to yet another train station for our next (short) 16 hour train to Chengdu.  Again we went for a hard sleeper and this time Rosie and I were put in the same Cabin, so the start of this journey was not as eventful as the last one.  Oddly enough nobody queued for pictures with us and the staring stopped much quicker. Maybe we are not so wierd after all :-)

We had 6 beds in this Cabin instead of 4 and again we had a very musical sleep. 3 of the 4 men in our cabin were snoring. Unfortunately the harmony did not send us to sleep.

We finally arrived in our hostel (the traffic inn) the following afternoon. We booked a tour for the next morning to go and see the pandas. Not sure if anyone is aware that we saw some Pandas yet? Rosie may of mentioned it to a few of you aleady? One lucky 6 month old baby panda was treated to a cuddle from Rosie (has she told anyone about this yet?) :-)

Watching the Giant Pandas eating and playing was the reason for our journey to Chengdu and we were not let down.  The park was set up as a breeding place for the giant pander to stop them from becoming extint as there are only about 1000 left in the world, but only one can say they have had a hug from Rosie (I bet he emailed all his mates straight after to make them all jealous) :-)

The rest of our time was spent walking and exploring the local area.  We went to the peoples park for a romantic walk (we were tired and wanted to sit down and relax) so we stopped at a tea house (these are the only places in China you can almost get away from the loud noises and relax). The only peope that come up to you are people staring (we are now used to it and stare back and smile and say "Ni Hao". This normally makes them stop or get very shy cause 'the aliens' spoke. You also get harrased by men wanting to give you a massage and clean your ears while you drink your tea. £4 and 30 minutes later I had had my head neck and shoulder massage and had things poked in my ears to take out all that wax. Overall a very odd experience but it kept Rosie ammused watching me being shook and prodded by this man.

We were trying to plan our next move and decide when to go on our trip down the Yangtze river. As we did not like our hostel very much we decided to just pack our bags and head to the train station to try and get a ticket the same day to Chongqing where the river tours start.

So, farewell Chengdu and the Pandas! Chonqing and a 3 day river cruise through the 3 gorges next!

Posted by JonoElias 02:00 Archived in China Tagged backpacking Comments (6)

Rosie antics

More things that keep happening to rosie

snow -7 °C

1 last thing to add on is rosie antics of this journey.  Most of the people in our group decided to do some hand washing last night. Not knowing that the owner of the hostel gets angry as water bills are high and she wants us to pay her to do it for us, only one person out of the 7 of us obviously got caught in action. Yes, whilst rosie was washing her clothes she was again being shouted at in Russian having no idea what the lady was saying. The hostlady called the honcho to get him to translate to rosie what she was saying but kept shouting so rosie could not hear him either and continued rinsing her clothes.  Once rosie realised what she was saying and of course finished cleaning the clothes she then stopped. :-)
We were then told by our honcho later that we should all pay for our washing.  As the hostlady had not made any effort to make us welcome in the hostel with not even a hello in the 3 days, our group came to the conclusion that she would not get another ruble from us.  She was probably happy to see us all leave today as we were also all up drinking all of last night and as we had the hostel all to ourselves we weren't the quietest of people!!

Silly handwashing!

Posted by JonoElias 01:19 Archived in Russia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)


Lake Baikal

snow -8 °C

So after 4 long but very entertaining and very hot nights on the train we arrived in Irkutsk (Siberia) at 4:30 am Moscow time, 9:30 am local time. We were woken up early by the grumpy (blondy as we called her- not Maria) Russian carrige attendant lady.

We met our honcho kosta who took us to our bus for the 1 hour drive to lake baikal.  Arrived at our hostel which had some great views of the snowy forest and mountains.


Then came the huski sledging. After walking through the ice and snow trying to keep rosie on her feet we finally arrived to see about 100 huskys all barking at us. We were give a quick lesson from our honcho on how to ride the sleigh (basically hold on, lean right or left to guide them in that direction and how to stop). Then off we went for a 5k huski trip. An amazing expeience especially when the huskys keep stopping for a fight. Luckily neither of us fell off or got hurt during this (I know, it's unusual for no injuries!)
Louis's favorite husky

Louis's favorite husky

Jon huski sledging

Jon huski sledging

The next day was a long hike up through the snowy forest with amazing views. As it was still snowing, this made it very enjoyable once we caught our breath from all the exceecise we suddenly had and the fact you get freezing cold and then boiling hot followed by freezing again... Once we finally made it to the hilltop and got to the viewpoint we saw some beautiful scenery.
Rosie hangin out

Rosie hangin out



Our honcho decided to take us down the scenic route, and of course, more dangerous route. My thoughts were 'will either of us slip over on any of the snow or ice on the way down?' Yep you all guessed right, rosie kept up to date with daily slipping and was the first to slip that day. :)
Team snow angels

Team snow angels

Once we got to the bottom after multiple snow fights and lots of group snow angels we then walked accross the frozen lake (Baikal) through some very heavy snow. This, although it was freezing, was the highlight for me in Irkutsk as you really felt you could be in the antartic.  It's hard to explain how it feels to be walking accross a massive lake that is completely frozen. I hear you all ask did Rosie fall over? Well that answer is standard now: yes she did. Poor old rosie is now known for her slips by everyone on the tour ;-)someones made a crack...

someones made a crack...

After a long day walking it was time for a Russian sauna which included running out of the sauna in just swimming trunks and rolling in the snow. A very wierd feeling but this was then followed by warming up again in the sauna to then be whipped with pine leave and hot oil. Supprisingly this was all very relaxing.

Dinner with our £3 bottles of champange and followed by the cheap vodka and beer sums up most evenings in russia.

We are now heading back to Irkutsk where we will spend a few hours exploring while waiting for tonights train. This time only 2 nights on the traing until we reach our next destination: Ulaanbataar (Mongolia).

Posted by JonoElias 01:13 Archived in Russia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Last day in St Petersburg

Then to Moscow...to meet the mafia

snow -2 °C


So this is (Monday) the final day before we fly to Moscow tomorrow.

To sum up the 3 days we were here:

We saw a car crash, we saw a big fight in the middle of the road, and I almost stole 50 rubles from the lady on the bus. Rosie cut her finger, burnt her hand and slipped on some ice down some steps. Oh and we also saw some great sights :-)

Today was spent visiting the Church of Spilled Blood which did look pretty amazing inside and Rosie has taken some great pics of all the art work. We then went for a walk accross the frozen river (but we stayed on the bridge) to Peter and Paul's fortress. We had a long walk around there mainly looking at the Cathedral and the Prison (where I am sure rosie would have loved to leave me)...

In the middle of all this we took a really nice walk through a park packed with snow. Obviously we had to jump in to it; knee deep, then lie down to make snow angels until it got too cold for us. Childish fun games in the snow, you gotta love it.

More from moscow ...

Posted by JonoElias 13:16 Archived in Russia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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