We had had a bit of a reshuffle in our plans as we had planned to go to Huangshan mountain but due to the G20 summit most residents in Hangzhou had been given the week off and by most reports many of the 6 million had gone to Huangshan mountain! We thought that the numbers of people would be a bit too much, plus we were struggling to find a decent way out of there to head further west.
Back up plan, go to Zhangjiajie a place which has been described as being the influence for the movie Avatar. If we are going to be honest neither of us could remember the movie but the inference was that this was a good thing so we were pretty happy with our decision.
With our tickets in hand we arrived at the train station in Hangzhou only to be completely amazed by the massive modern structure that it was!! Easily bigger than most airports yet completely efficient, clean and easy to get around and in no time we were on our very bullet looking train heading for Yichang.
The train was great and we were excited/relieved as we are about to spend quite a bit of time on them!! We had just over 1000km to go to get to Yichang as the crow flies. Unfortunately we went on a more circuitous route but we hit speeds of 200kph fairly regularly and ended up at our destination in about 8hrs.
We were only stopping at Yichang for the night to make our train connections and the budget hotel we had booked near the train station were very excited to have us and insisted on taking our photos on arrival!!
We had a bit of a bonus with dinner that night as we stumbled upon the place to be!! There was a guy outside who was cooking exciting looking stews in clay pots and with a bit of help from other diners and some walking around pointing at things we soon had a clay pot full of fairly spicy (we are getting closer to Sichuan) beef stew, some cabbage and two large beers!! The food was wonderful and soon enough the place was packed and tables and chairs were being erected outside to accommodate more people!
The next day we had a much shorter train ride to Zhangjiajie, only 5 hrs. This time the train wasn’t quite so impressive, it hopefully wasn’t going to go at 200kph!! Still the tickets only cost us $8 each so to be fair it was pretty impressive.
The best thing about it was we could see the blue sky!! So far apart from a couple of days in Shanghai we had been surrounded by cloud and smog!! The pollution seems very bad and you just can’t escape it, but to be fair we haven’t suffered health wise as far as we can tell it’s just fairly unpleasant. I guess that’s what happens when so many people live in one area and this area around Shanghai has been completely full!!
The journey was very slow and stop/start but we had learnt from the day before and came prepared with our “pot noodles”. This is what everyone eats on the trains and there are hot water stations at the end of the carriages to fill them up. They had a bit more spice and flavour than the pot noodles we remember from our Uni days!!
We had decided to stay in Wulinyuan which was a little town at one of the entrances to Zhangjiajie national park. Once again it was much hotter than we thought it would be but wasn’t a city and there were lots of beautiful mountains around. Our host Sue was incredibly helpful with sorting out where and what we had to do in the park so we went out for a quick dinner to prepare ourselves for a lot of walking for the next two days!! T
The train station in Hangzhou.
A couple of shots of our lucky find dinner in Yichang.