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A retired Aussie programmer from Sydney, I am an ardent traveller, student of things Chinese, and in retirement both an online teacher and online MOOC student. I write mostly about travel and experiences in China, and of interaction with Asian culture and people. Don’t expect controversy because, like a cat in a puddle, I tread carefully - but sometimes I just might throw in a ‘googly’!
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BusTravels in China(2)    

By LaoGui 老贵的博客
320 Views | 1 Comments | 6/5/2019 12:43:07 PM

Chongqing-Jiuzhaigou-Changjiang



Late October 2007, less than a year before the Sichuan earthquake. I made the long bus trip Chongqing to Jiuzhaigou, meaning to go to Huanglong immediately afterwards, but it had already snowed heavily, unseasonably early.  Almost everything was closed in the village, and the only hotel I found had shut off the hot water and air conditioning - showering was no fun!  Two days in Jiuzhaigou, incredibly beautiful, wonderfully preserved, clean, totally free of tourist litter, and a true highpoint of my China travels.  It was cold but sunny, providing some little relief for the bare-shouldered brides with their camera crews. 



Then there was the bus back to Chongqing.  Mmm - not quite such a highpoint!  The bus was totally full, and I was seated alongside a heavyset, stocky male.  Ten or so years earlier, on my first trip to China, I had never set eyes on overweight people here, apart from tourists; now they were increasingly in evidence surely a consequence of the imported American disease (MacDonalds, Kentucky, Pizzahut).  Anyway I perched precariously on the seat, holding on to maintain my narrow seating.



The mountain path downhill for the first section is steep and winding.  He fell asleep within 10 minutes, snoring desultorily, and frequently falling over or simply resting his head on my shoulder, at which I would push him upright, and he would resume sleeping with a snort.  When we came to the straight descent he managed to stay upright, so that was a small boon, but, as though spring loaded, his stout legs would spread wide and edge me closer and closer to falling off ... This would be at least a nine hour bus trip so I was silently cursing.  Fortunately someone noted my predicament and made room on another seat.



The downhill road runs for many miles, and unattended roadworks were in progress at frequent intervals.  It is a narrow two lane sheer mountain road, so whenever there was road excavation, the up traffic and down traffic had to take turns.  Traffic was building up, and there were frequents delays, drivers in both directions becoming impatient.  Whenever there was any clear section, drivers in either direction would cross the unbroken white line and overtake.  Delays became increasingly long and frequent.  Our bus driver too was losing his patience (if ever he had had any) and he joined in the illegal overtaking.  Finally we came to a small roadwork, where we were in the wrong lane, there was a solid queue of down traffic behind us in both lanes and we were confronted by a phalanx of vehicles coming up also in both lanes.  So much for the Chinese regard for road rules!



Over the next four hours the motorcycle police managed to get enough vehicles along the gutter to clear a short way and allow the flow to resume gradually. Six hours late the bus finally stopped at a small village at the foot of the mountain, where I was told to get disembark and take another bus for a connection with the Changjiang (or should I say Yangtze since the name change confuses me) ship to Yichang.  Perhaps it was from Wanzhou port, which is about 3 hours drive east of Chongqing as it turns out.



The leg to the Yangtze cruise port (Wanzhou?)



So the river cruise to Yichang and San xia daba involved a connecting bus somewhere near Chongqing I was dumped from one bus without explanation, no idea where, and after milling around in the gathering gloom a bus did indeed materialise with the everpresent Chongqing fog descending. This bus was no more than half full so no spring-loaded tree-trunk thighs.  We drove for an hour or two along an increasingly deserted highway, as the murk descended, and visibility decreased.  Finally we could see ahead a flashing light, and a vehicle appeared out of the gloom.  Police had placed barriers across the road.  I was told they were instructing us to turn around, with zero visibility.  Then everyone on the bus came up to me, saying 'you are a foreigner, you can tell the police how important you are, and how important it is you arrive on time!' haha.  Well reluctantly I tried, danshi jingcha bu yuanyi ting wode shuohua 但是警察不愿意听我的说话... Unsurprisingly the police took no heed, so the bus turned around and drove back, back to a train station where I boarded a suburban all-stops night train arriving at Wanzhou port about 6am! OMG was I weary!



The fog followed me all the way to Yichang - a 3 day voyage, I have never seen the sun in Chongqing!  I see the statistics tell me Chongqing has about half the sunshine hours of Sydney.  I think that is a flattering statistic, although I have been back there four times in all, still haven't seen the sun, just heard roosters crowing foggy night and day.  Psychotic 24-hour crowing cocks are another memory of Chongqing from a few years later.



This is such a stunning river, a truly mighty river, they have moved the villages, townships and cities 200 metres up the mountains lining the river which inexorably crawls ever upwards swallowing the doomed buildings as it goes.  A huge project such as only China I suspect could contemplate.



Later of the Journey from Shanghai Shibohui to Yunnan and Guangxi.



老鬼



Photos:



Foggy Chongqing



Several to, in and returning fromJiuzhaigou



The river to Yichang and the merciless fog


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#2019-06-05 12:42:58 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

While I have not made the same bus trip you describe as far as your place of departure and arrival, I have definitely made the same trip on several occasions as far as the adjacent Chinese passenger falling asleep on my shoulder, the oddly being dumped somewhere unnexpectedly only to be retrieved by another bus hours later and the wildly erratic driving by my own driver and everyone else on the road.

Your description of this journey was very interesting and brought back lots of memories of my own. With the passage of time even the bad memories are good, so I enjoyed the reminder very much.

I am looking forward to more upcoming journeys you've been on. 

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