November 1 continued ...

After disembarking at Jingzhou from a China Regal Cruise down the Yangtze, we caught a bus to Yichang.

In Yichang we walked from the bus station to the train station which is not far but ... as a Lonely Planet writer reported, "at top a punishing flight of steps".   More so after 4 lazy days floating down the Yangtze.


Stopped half way to catch breath and take a photo.

We purchased tickets, stood in the waiting room ... as the only Caucasians we were a source of interest to the other passengers ... and then joined in the mob scene to go through the gates, down the stairs and on to the train to capture a hard seat. 

Terry and Sherrie were able to capture a window on one side while Angela and Stephen got one across the aisle facing three distinguished looking gentlemen.   The professors, on their way to a lecture in Zhangjiajie spoke some English and Angela with her easy-going manner and enticing smile engaged them in conversation with Stephen joining right in.

When we got to Zhangjiajie, we showed one of the attendants on the platform our tickets to Guiyang and they pointed the direction we should take which by-passed the waiting room and the pushing mobs and allowed us to settle in prior to the other passengers' arrival.   

With everyone on board we still had the hard-sleeper room to ourselves which made it a little easier to have some fun ... this being Angela and Stephen's fourth anniversary.

We celebrated with noodle bowls, pijiu (beer), rice cookies (we broke up and put in the left over noodle sauce) and a chocolate bar brought from home.

Stephen and Ange got to sleep within arms length while Angela's in-laws slept below.  


November 2

Another early morning, another train station with an early morning walk to the bus station.   There wasn't any wait.  The bus was ready to pull out on it's journey to Kaili.

It was still morning when we arrived in Kaili and made our way on foot to the CITS (China international Travel Service) office and met May (most Chinese in the tourist industry have adopted English names). 

She was able to set us up with a car and driver for the next two days to visit outlying ethnic villages, and she recommended a hotel just across the park.

On May's recommendation we checked into the hotel and didn't think about asking to see the rooms first.   They were disgusting.   Mould climbed up the wall and the grubby carpet was covered with spit marks.  We were tired, hungry and the sheets were clean.  We decided to stay for one night and look for alternate accommodations this afternoon.

We washed, brushed our teeth, left our backpack packed and ready to go and walked out the door to find food and discover Kaili.

Terry, having done a lot of preparation work at home, led us through the streets of Kaili.  When he got near the restaurant he was seeking, he asked a shop keeper.  She, without English, understood and escorted us down the block to a place whose sign said in English "Lonely Planet Recommend Us!".  We nicknamed the establishment, "Mama Noodles".

We had small plates of "Mama's" specialties, four filling bowls of noodle soup and three large pijiu (beer).  The total bill was the equivalent of $3.50 USD.

Terry again was our guide as we wove through Kaili streets passed shop windows and street vendors. 

We stopped at a bakery and bought a snack to eat later.

Travelling is about being with the people, walking with them, shopping where they shop, eating what they eat and having some communication ... even if it is just a smile.  We turned the corner where the street market started and strolled uphill for a camera clicking hour.


Past the market, a simpler, yet harder, life continued on ... 

women gathered around a treadle sewing machine; a barbershop was doing business on a corner; shop owners and buyers conducted business, children played, deliveries were made ... mostly by shoulder pole and baskets (like the ruby red chili peppers); people were curious about these white people in their neighbourhood; trucks and motorcycles honked and rattled their way through the streets and people stepped aside to let them pass. 

At one point a little fuzzy kitten wanting to get across the street saw Angela's legs as a refuge halfway across.  Angela, being a cat lover, took the action as a high compliment and crouched there until someone came to claim it. 


At the barbershop corner we turned right and continued heading up hill.  

School had just been let out and children, like those world wide, added a joyful flavour to the already busy streets and too, were curious about these strangers.  Two boys traded cards.  Two girls dressed alike in black and pink walked around rice drying on the street and giggled when we asked to take their photo.  

Across the street from the school another young boy sat and stirred frying potatoes in a wok while his mother washed cabbage and looked to see how he was reacting to having his picture taken. 

Sherrie and Angela stopped to take a picture of a group of children. 


"Hello," said the small girl in pink.   The taller girl in the bright sweater seemed to reprimanded her.

"Hello", said Sherrie.  

"Hello," said Angela.   The taller girl seemed surprised that her friend had talked in a foreign language and had been understood.  

"Jenada [Canada]" said Sherrie.  

"Jenada, yes," said Angela holding her camera down and continued recording in video mode.

Now the taller girl was ready to try herself.  "Hi.  My name Yo Houya.  What your name?" she asked then immediately covered her mouth and giggled.

"My name, wo chou, Angela." With that response the girl turned to her friend in blue and said "Whoa!"

The little one in pink was ready to try again, "My name  (she said it so quietly we did not understand)." 

"Oh, pretty name," Angela smiled. "Oh good, good."

The older girl, still giddy with her English accomplishments bravely said, "Nice to meet you."

"Nice to meet you, too."

"Very nice to meet you," said Angela and Sherrie  ... and meant it sincerely. 


Continuing up the backstreets we came to Dŕgé Gōngyuán (Big Pagoda Park) which is a sanctuary for old men to rest, visit, smoke and hang their caged songbirds from the trees.  

We climbed the path to the pagoda.

It appeared as though it might have been used as a monastery at one point in it's history.  Today it was empty and succumbing to a state of disrepair but had a peacefulness about it.  We sat and ate our bakery snack.


We left the pagoda through the back door, making our way down through the gardens which overlook the city, past tarps covered with drying rice and through a maze of back alleys until we were once again on the street with the market.   


We went back to "Mama Noodles" for dinner.  

On our way through town we were able to book into another hotel for two nights starting tomorrow.  We checked out the rooms first before making the reservation ... they were clean.  

Activity and lights drew us into a alleyway which led to small square where a night market was underway surrounded by eateries whose outdoor woks were being kept busy over open flames.

What a great day it had been.  

The next two days we would be day tripping to  Shidong  and  Xijang.  


click here to continue to November 3 and Shidong ... 

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