After the meaty vegetables last night, Yichang has not done much to redeem itself today….
Luckily I like a hard mattress to sleep on because the one at our hostel was non existent (it was literally a bottom sheet over the wooden planks of the bed frame). Leah on the other hand didn’t get much sleep at all, and to top it off woke up with a cold (most likely caused by me…).
We also woke up with a little guest this morning. The two other beds were still empty but we had a visitor on the rug outside the bathroom- a cockroach! We had some grapes in a bag on a shelf which we think that it was trying to get to when it must’ve flipped itself over and got stuck upside down.
The shower was pretty bad too. I went first and the water was really weak and a little chilly but nothing to really complain about. When it was Leah’s turn though it got really bad; the water infrequently drissled out of the shower head and was ice cold when she got the water to run. She ended up having to wash off her body wash in the sink- lucky the bathroom was a wet room!
To make matters worse when she tried to brush her teeth brown lumpy water surged out of the tap into the sink. It was gross! We ended up using our bottled water to brush our teeth after that!
We bought breakfast on route to the bus stop- fruit from the stall next door and a chilli chive pancake from a street vendor- because we wanted to get to the dam before mid day and it would take over an hour on public transport.
We made it to the bus stop in really good time, had directions in both English and Chinese, and knew what buses we needed to get and the names of the places where we needed to change buses.
Our first attempt to get the bus didn’t go very well… We had to get a number 10 bus followed by a number 8 bus. I showed the number 10 driver our directions and he said that the bus didn’t go there. We got off the bus thinking that maybe we got on the bus heading in the wrong direction so stopped the number 10 bus heading in the opposite direction. This driver said that we were on the right bus to begin with- the driver must’ve not wanted the responsibility of two English girls on his bus!
We finally got on the right bus- after leaving the hostel over an hour ago- and were dropped to the bus stop where we needed to change to the number 8. Me calling it a bus stop was being generous, it was literally a lamp post on the road side in the middle of a run down town where people gathered- the amount of people was the only thing to indicate that it was in fact a bus stop.
Leah and I must’ve stuck out waiting around for our next bus because a man came out of a nearby shop and asked if we were waiting for the number 8. The dam is the areas most famous tourist attraction so it was pretty obvious where we were headed. We were waiting at the wrong stop… We needed to walk around the corner for 200m and we would’ve seen a huge bus station, full of number 8 buses, leaving every few minutes!
The three gorges dam
When Leah first told me about the dam I was a little apprehensive. I knew that the creation of the dam flooded local areas and displaced thousands of people. The government claims that building the dam has saved hundreds and thousands of lives so far- which may be true because the area was prone to flooding- but it made me sad to think about all of the natural habitats that it had destroyed (both animals and plant life).
Although the dam was a bit of an eye-saw against the beautiful mountain ranges surrounding it, it was really impressive! A wall of concrete and iron stretched from one river bed to the next and blocked all water from passing through. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the dam in action because the river was pretty dry from all of the hot weather lately, but I could imagine the mechanics behind it being impressive!
To off- set the ugliness of the dam there is a beautiful park a short bus ride away. In the park there are bits and pieces from the dam building work; a huge lorry tyre, tractors, cranes and piping etc. which works really well as it draws in the industrial side of the dam with the beauty of the landscape.
We accidentally joined a Chinese bus tour on the way back to the tourist centre. We’d boarded at the front, walked past the driver and the tour guide, and sat at the back- effectively passing everyone on the bus. And no-one said anything to us. We only realised what we had done when the tour guide started speaking in Chinese on the speaker and we noticed different tickets on lanyards hanging around all of the other passengers necks. Luckily it was going in the direction that we needed and dropped us back at the tourist centre.
We weren’t sure how long our bus journey home would take us so we ate in a fast food restaurant near by (veg and rice for us both).
By 4.30pm we were off our final bus for the day (after being dropped back at the non existent bus stop and waiting for our next bus for almost an hour) and wanted to enquire about booking a tourist boat along the Yangtze River to get to Chongqing.
We ended up in the Ramada hotel (after having no luck at the ferry port) and booked a train ticket instead of the boat trip. At the hotel we were shown luxury travel boats which took 3 days to get to Chongqing, stopping along the way at various locations for site seeing. They looked really good and the prices weren’t too but the travel agent was only translating half of the information into English for us so we thought that it was a little dodgy and decided on the train instead. We thought that we would have to get a sleeper train there but the trains must’ve been improved since our lovely planet was last updated as it would only take a 4 and a half hours!
We dumped our bags back at the hostel and headed for dinner in a Korean restaurant nearby (recommended in lonely planet and it looked really busy). That was a big mistake. The restaurant specialised in raw meat which you cooked for yourself at your own table. It would’ve been great if they had let me order vegetables to self cook but they said that I had to order meat! Leah didn’t want meat either so we were a little stuck! In the end I ordered spicy radishes and green vegetables – which were both grim- plus a bowl of my fail safe food here – plain boiled rice! I put a spoonful of chilli flakes on the rice and dug in.
After the fail of the restaurant we walked around the streets a little and found another large square with shops and more street food vendors on. I bought some vegetable skewers (mushroom and aubergine) and they were really tasty! It’s all cooked fresh out of a fridge and covered in spices as it sizzles on a large grill.