Monday, 25 August 2008

Kunming, Guiyang, Changsha, Hangzhou

Goodness, I've fallen way behind in keeping up the blog again. So just a quick wrap-up of the rest of the trip to get to more up-to-date things! From Dali I jumped to the train to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province. There's a very nice vegetarian restaurant in Kunming, but unfortunately only one! So I ate there every day. There's a veggie shop next to it also, and there's no egg in foods, so save from anything that might contain dairy (can't remember if there was anything of that kind) it's probably vegan too.

The restaurant is next to a temple and close to a lake, and these two are pretty much the only sights I went to in my few days in Kunming, which were spent pretty much only working. I meant to go to the Stone Forest also but got too confused of the million bus stations to actually get anywhere, and then decided the sooner I return to Beijing the sooner I can leave China. (So I thought at the time, but more on that later.) Oh, I did also run into a blood donation bus and on a sudden decision tested if they're the same as in Beijing. They pretty much were, similar form of which they let my bypass all the health questions marking them "no" without even asking me about that, and they did use new needles and everything seemed fine. They even gave me a nice thermos cup, I was thinking of refusing any gifts but that cup is just too useful in Chinese trains etc.

Next up, Guiyang, in Guizhou province. I arrived in the morning, left my bag at the train station and jumped on the bus for the main sight of Guizhou province: the Huangguoshu waterfalls. One of the biggest in Asia, it is definitely well worth seeing. But be warned that if you take up and walk everywhere like I did, the taxi drivers can be really irritating claiming the 5km to the next place would be too far to walk and pestering you constantly. I have tons of pictures from this place, will upload them somewhere 'soon', whatever that means.

Then back to Guiyang and to search for a place to stay. Now here's the thing; apparently there are no reasonable hostels in Guiyang. And what's worse, a young Chinese guy travelling around on a very small budget with 2 friends happened to sit next to me in the bus, and stupidly I decided to join them in the search for accommodation as they were to embark on the same task. But their priority was to find the cheapest place possible, and so we eventually ended up in a dirty hotel full of cockroaches, and of course no internet, which would've been one of my priorities given that I was supposedly working. Anyway, just one night then, and I went out to look for food and that wasn't too easy either in the evening. After being pestered on the streets by some locals for a while and deciding that I hate Guiyang, I did find something to eat, even if it wasn't anything to write home about. The next day the only vegetarian restaurant in town was open but it isn't worth much either. Don't go to Guiyang unless you really have to.

The next day and on to Changsha, but in my hurry to leave town I accepted the hard seater on the train, figuring I'd arrive early in the morning. But at 11 pm the train stopped in the middle of nowhere and stood there until 4 am, with all lights on and of course there isn't anywhere to even lean on those trains so there's no hope of sleep. I didn't bring anything to eat either, and two cute kids decided I was the most fun person to play with throughout the day... I don't mind playing with kids at all, but given the tiredness it did get boring soon. We arrived at 7 pm the next day. Changsha isn't worth a mention really, what, a city of 6 million people without any vegetarian restaurants or even hostels! No real sights either, despite 3,000 years of history, at least no sights other than Maoist things, I guess anything old has been destroyed long ago. It did feel better than Guiyang but this is another city one should skip.

Finally then, Hangzhou. I wasn't meaning to go to Hangzhou actually but as the above mentioned two cities weren't worth stopping and I needed to stop somewhere to work a few days before getting back to Beijing, Hangzhou seemed perfect for the task. And it was quite a contrast to the previous two, it's green and luscious, has several nice veggie places and excellent value hostels right near the gorgeous and rightly famous West Lake. Even so, I had been to Hangzhou before so didn't do much sight-seeing, just ate and worked and met up with an old friend. It is one of the actually nice cities in China though, well worth a stop.


小喬 said...

wow...nice blog

dreamy said...

u are so lucky u can travel and work at the same time! how did u always manage to find veg places? :o teach me some tips :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Jari, you have a nice blog!!!

Vegetarian is very NOT popular in Guiyang & Changsha and the people there likes to eat special meat like dogs & wild animal species.

(But there may be exceptions, on a boat ride at their famous lake, they have live fishes kept on the boat to prepare dishes for the tourists. Seeing that I requested for vegetarian meal, the kind lady boss thought that I took vegetarian meal bec it was my birthday and agreed to sell me fishes to release into their lake as it is common practice for them to do so on their birthdays:-)
Idea of vegetarianism is not common there but at least there is still hope of some kind souls who practise that on their birthdays)

More education of vegetarianism needs to be encouraged there.
You could easily see scenes of people killing & washing dog meat at the river.
The Guiyang tour guide very mischievously pointed me to a scene of the locals washing a freshly killed dog as he knew of my earlier act but it was already killed so I could only give a compassionate look and perhaps a silent prayer for the dog's better rebirth. (I believe in his mind I must be a weird person spending money on fish release but it is really worth it to see the fishes gaining freedom from being served on the table for next group of guests)
Given your chance to be in China, it will be good for you to not only advocate vegetarian but also help some of the animals gain their freedom within your means?

Have you visited another famous scenic place around the area, Zhangjiajie? It's quite worth a visit...

Anonymous said...

there are actually several vegetarian places in changsha. maybe you didn't look hard enough?

Jari (travelling-vegan) said...

Dreamy, for veg places in China my main source is
But as pointed out by the 2nd anonymous, I didn't look much further than that for Changsha. So, how does one find these veg places?

The first anonymous, that's great you got your veggie meal on the boat! As for paying for releasing the animals, I don't really believe in that as it gives the money to those who capture the animals just the same as eating them, and much of the suffering has taken place already. So to do that there needs to be some guarantee they won't just go and catch others in their place. Therefore I will rather put my money on protection of wild animal habitats or education and indeed encouraging vegetarianism etc.

I have been to Zhangjiajie earlier.

Thanks to everyone for the comments! :-)

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