From Xi’an to Chengdu I took train nr. K5. K is one of the lower train categories, thus it was cheaper and slower than the trains I took before. Also this train was much more crowded than the ones before, partly because people where still swarming home from their national holidays.
In fact many people only had a standing ticket, but some people who had a seat where nice and more or less voluntarily shared their seat. Sometimes up to four people were sharing two seats. Luckily I had a seat ticket, but I shared a bit of my seat during the first two hours of the train ride (at that time the train was really jammed to the max).
Although it was very crowded the atmosphere in the train was quite lovely. The Chinese shared all their food with me and we tried to have some conversation, which however didn’t go very much beyond hand and feet small talk. One little girl (maybe 5 years old) was especially eager to learn new English words. Probably her English was already better then that of most others on the train.
The scenery on this train ride started to become more mountainous, but most of the time the view didn’t go very far, because it was always foggy. Actually I never knew if it was fog, clouds, smog or a combination of all. In fact everywhere I have been in China so far, except in Beijing (surprisingly), there was always something in the air which clouded the sky.
And so it was in Chengdu, the whole city covered in thick smog. And of course it was not less crowded or less quiet than Xi’an or Harbin.
I was really ready to get away from major Chinese cities for a while. And that indeed was the plan, to find a more quiet place and to discover some of the beautiful nature of China. However maybe this time I should have done the planing a little bit more in advance.
Once I was in the Travelers Lodge hostel in Chengdu I started to give this trip to the nature some more detailed thoughts. During the planing I realized, however, that there where to many options and ideas but too little time left (in China) for most of them. My original idea was to visit the beekeeper who I met in Beijing in a little tibetan (influenced) village to the west of Chengdu, where she was teaching at that time. Since it would have been a 30 hours bus ride to this village I dropped the plan. Other options would have been the national parks in Zhangjiajie and Jiuzhaigou. The reason why I should have done my planing a little bit more in advance was because I would have had enough time for Jiuzhaigou if I would have gone there directly from Xi’an. I regreted it a little that I didn’t go there and I still do, because people keep telling me how amazing this place is. So all I can do now is to recommend it to everyone, and maybe go there myself if I ever make it back to China.
The last and least time consuming option was to hike Mt. Emei, which is a 3 hour bus ride away from Chengdu, and which I ended up doing. Fortunately this trip relieved my regret about not going to Jiuzhaigou, because it was a really exciting trip and there wouldn’t have been any better place to get away from the crowd.
In Chengdu I realized that one month is barely enough to get a glimpse of China and that I needed at least 3 month to see all the places I which had been recommended to me. More about the trip to Mt. Emei will be in the next post.