Yangshuo to Chengdu by Train

We took a bus from Yangshuo to Guilin, then a train from Guilin to Chengdu. Check out the full story here:
#traintravel

We are on the last month of our 60 day tourist visa, and we’ll be spending it in Chengdu, China. Chengdu is in Sichuan province, which should sound a little familiar; it is China’s spicy food capital! I’m not usually a fan of spicy food, but with our trip to Thailand coming up, I figure this is a great place to practice up.

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There is a high speed train that goes through Xingping on the way to Guilin, but we chose to go with the slightly cheaper and more convenient option of catching a train from Guilin, instead. Tickets can be purchased online if you are willing to pay a $10 service fee or for a smaller fee if you book it on a Chinese site and use WeChat or AliPay. Since we aren’t using either of those services, and I hate service fees, we opted to purchase tickets in person at a kiosk in Yangshuo.

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Turns out you still get charged a ¥10 fee for this service, as well! If you buy from the actual train station, it’s free, but that would have involved traveling to Guilin. So I guess ¥10 isn’t that bad. Our two tickets on hard seats cost ¥778 ($125). This is a little more expensive than I have seen them in the past, but this is peak travel time due to the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year).

From the hotel, we hailed two motorcycle taxis for ¥15 each. It took only 10 minutes to get to the bus station, which was really just a corner gas station with buses parked next to it. From there, a woman beckoned us onto a bus to Guilin for ¥30 each. The bus was clean, comfortable, and even had a horrible Chinese movie playing.

After almost exactly 90 minutes, we hopped off near Wada Hostel. We had a little extra time, so we took a walk to do some grocery shopping and have breakfast. We splurged a little on breakfast and enjoyed a coffee tea (still not sure what this is) and biscuit from a Hong Kong cafe. Both were delightful. At the grocery store, we purchased lunch and some snacks for the train. The train does have a food car, but it is usually expensive and rarely includes an English menu.

Last time we rode the train, we arrived two hours early and were bored out of our minds. This time, we arrived 30 minutes early and nearly missed our train. Thankfully the lines were moving quickly and we had some very helpful attendants to help us along the way. When we aren’t in a hurry, the train station is easy to navigate and has English signs throughout.

Most Chinese trains are organized into “hard” seats, and “soft” seats. The hard seats, which we had booked, are similar to airplane seats with a fold out table. Sometimes, the seats are literally hard, wooden benches, but this time they were padded and comfortable. The soft seats are slightly more comfortable chairs, arranged in groups of  four around a large table. These are great if you have a group of four. Otherwise, I suggest the hard seats, as they’re cheaper and basically the same.

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The ride was seven hours long and arrived 10 minutes earlier than expected. There were several bathrooms for each car, with at least one Western toilet per set. I strongly suggest using the squatter on trains. It requires less touching of anything and less leg strength than hovering over the always-wet Western seat. The bathrooms included toilet paper, sink, and soap. As per usual in China, there were no towels.

The train also includes a hot and cold water dispenser. We used the dispenser to fill our noodle bowls (the blue one with shrimp on the front is my personal favorite) and an attendant came to collect our garbage later. Our seat mate ate some smoked pigeon for lunch. She ate it out of the bag it came in and spit the bones into the provided barf bag. Her garbage was also collected and she was given a replacement barf bag.

The train stopped multiple times along the way, with each stop lasting 5-15 minutes. If you do get off for some air, watch the smokers; they seem to know the drill. Thankfully, our stop was the last one, so there was no confusion as to where we were getting off. When the train emptied, we got out too.

We got off at the Chengdu Dong (East) Station and caught a metro to our hotel. It was a long, but easy and comfortable trip. So far, Chengdu has a very different vibe from most other Chinese cities we’ve been to. We can’t wait to get set up at our first house sit and spend the month exploring our new temporary home!

 

 

 

Guangzhou Day 2

Day 2 in China complete. We spent most of the day tired and hot, but we did find a little bit of adventure.

We only had two things that needed to get done today:

  1. Get train tickets at the train station.
  2. Pick up needed items at the Super Market.

The trip to the train station was just like we remembered, insufferable. We did make it there, but our souring attitudes from our lack of sleep didn’t allow us to maintain the patience we needed to actually buy tickets.

The trip to the Super Market, on the other hand, was a lot of fun. We love visiting foreign super markets, particularly the fresh meat and produce sections. It is alarming how much time we spend just looking at the various products.

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What is this stuff? Who knows?!

We were dead tired after our “easy” chores for the day, so we went back to the hostel, had lunch, and took a much needed nap.

After our nap, we took a short walk through the Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street. It is the main pedestrian-only shopping street in Guangzhou, similar to Nanjing Rd in Shanghai or Las Ramblas in Barcelona. It was a really nice change from our dirty neighborhood location. It was clean, lively, and full of colors. We enjoyed a stroll from one end to the other just reminiscing about the Shop Shop girls in Shenzhen.

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We were in high spirits at the start of our walk, but pretty quickly fell back into tired mode. We slowly picked our way home and stopped at a nice restaurant on the way. It was little more expensive than we would have liked ($14), but it was the food we had been missing and the perfect way to send ourselves back to bed.

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Iron Plate Beef and Garlic Broccoli

We returned home, kissed each other goodnight and fell immediately and completely asleep.

 

 

 

Guangzhou, China Day Two

Day 2 in China complete. We spent most of the day tired and hot, but we did find a little bit of adventure.

I have created a basic routine when it comes to travel. Day one is usually spent sleeping and exploring the immediate area to get ourselves acquainted with our new home. My Day Two travel routine is mostly about getting stuff done. It is the day I finalize any unfinished arrangements, unpack, buy groceries, and make my plans for the rest of the week. Today was no different. Thankfully, we really only had three major items on our to-do list.

Day Two Travel Routine

  1. Get train tickets at the train station
  2. Pick up needed items at the Super Market
  3. Take a walk to minimize jet lag

Pick Up Train Tickets

I try and arrange as much in advance as possible, but in China, it can be a little challenging. Train tickets, for example, are difficult to buy more than a week in advance (unless you want to pay American prices). So, in China, my day two travel routine, almost always includes a trip to the train station to prepare for our next stop.

The trip to the train station was just like we remembered, absolutely insufferable. We did make it there, but our souring attitudes from our lack of sleep didn’t allow us to maintain the patience we needed to actually buy tickets.

Our walk to the station was rainy and cold, finding the ticket office was an adventure all of its own, and waiting in a line that never moved was beyond frustrating. After about an hour of impatiently wondering why our 30 person long line didn’t seem to be moving at all, we finally gave up. “If at first you don’t succeed, have something delicious to eat, take a nap, and try again tomorrow.”

When travel gets hard, it is important to re-adjust.

Pick up Groceries at the Market

My favorite part about my day two travel routine is the trip to the Super Market. It is almost always a lot of fun. We love visiting foreign super markets, particularly the fresh meat and produce sections. It is alarming how much time we spend just looking at the various products.

day two travel routine super market trip with a collage of tropical fruits, large crabs, dried bugs, and dried squid
What is this stuff? Who knows?!

We purchased packs of tissues (a must have item in China), some shampoo, and a few snacks. The 10 minute activity took nearly an hour by the time we finished playing the “what do you think this is?” in the candy aisle, or “name that animal” in the meat department.

We were dead tired after our “easy” chores for the day, so we went back to the hostel, had lunch, and took a much needed nap.

Check us out using the same travel routine in Melbourne, Australia. ♥

Afternoon Walk

After our nap, we took a short walk through the Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street. I like to make sure that a long walk is included in the day two travel routine as it is a great way to reduce the effects of jet lag.

Shangxiajiu is the main pedestrian-only shopping street in Guangzhou, similar to Nanjing Rd in Shanghai or Las Ramblas in Barcelona. It was a really nice change from our dirty neighborhood location. The street was clean, lively, and full of colors. We enjoyed a stroll from one end to the other just reminiscing about the Shop Shop girls in Shenzhen.

Our day two travel routine always includes a walk to reduce the effects of jet lag. Find a pedestrian street and just wander.

We were in high spirits at the start of our walk, but pretty quickly fell back into tired mode. It was very obvious that it was time to slowly pick our way home and have dinner. Dinner was a little more expensive than we would have liked ($14), but it was the food we had been missing and the perfect way to send ourselves back to bed.

Read more about what we ate for dinners in China. ♥

"If at first you don't succeed, eat some delicious food, take a nap, and try again tomorrow." My day two travel routine strategy included this tasty meal of simmering beef and onions and stir-fry broccolli
Iron Plate Beef and Garlic Broccoli

We returned home, kissed each other goodnight and fell immediately and completely asleep.