Hard Sleeper to Chengdu

17 04 2010

Rest day. Had lunch at the Xi’an hostel then caught the cheap 1 yuan 603 public bus to the station for our overnight train to Chengdu. It was scheduled to leave at 2.04, got delayed to 2.45, then to 3.10. The crowds were getting upset and I don’t think the Chinese are very patient people when it comes to pushing their way onto trains. When we booked there were no soft sleeper tickets left, so we had top and middle hard sleeper. Definitely not as luxurious as the soft sleeper, although very cheap. The top bunk was higher than my head (about 2m high) and was not as wide or cushioned as soft. The linen also didn’t look as clean, it was noisier was no door or light controls and crying babies and smokers. We saw children peeing on the floor by the basins and people throwing their nut shell rubbish on the floor. Fortunately as soon as the lights went out around 9pm it was quiet, everybody went to sleep and we slept peacefully (with eye mask and ear plugs) until 6am when a train officer came around to check our tickets again.

Surprisingly, despite departing late we arrived half an hour early in Chengdu. We didn’t want to wait for our pick up so we took a taxi to the hostel, Sims Cozy Hostel. We took a well-earned shower and finished our breakfast.

We walked down to the historic WenShu Monastery, one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Chengdu. There is a popular vegetarian restaurant inside so we ate until we were full for about $10. I drank Chinese gooseberry (a.k.a. kiwi fruit) juice that was freshly squeezed. After lunch we walked around the gardens and saw turtles piled 3 high on top of each other, sunning in a pool, and toads sitting in the pool with turtles on their back. We also saw water snakes, possible in the pond because one of the guardians at the temple gate had snakes in his hands.

We booked and paid for the rest of our Tibet tour, leaving tomorrow, and organised to go see the Pandas tomorrow morning. The hostel has a large garden area, DVD player in the room, library, pool and table tennis tables and restaurant, but most importantly, excellent English speaking staff and some Japanese too. A little home away from home.