Saturday, 7 March 2009

Nepal to India to China

After trekking we spent almost a week chilling out in Pokhara, seeing a few sights, eating A LOT of good cheap food, especially Tibetan, we even managed to watch a few premiership games on tv. We had to leave eventually though and headed to Delhi for our flight to China. It was an eventful journey lasting 36 hours and using various modes of transport. The first bus we caught to the border stopped 25km from the border and wouldn't take us any further as there were demonstrations on the road ahead and the bus driver explained that we would be pelted with rocks if we continued! No vehicles were going through for this reason, so our only option was a cycle rickshaw, which meant some poor guy had to cycle both of us and all our luggage the whole 25km to the border. We didn't feel too sorry for him by the end though because he kept trying to get more money out of us! We had 1 of our worst bus journeys 90km from the border to a train station, crammed full of people, elbows everywhere, no leg room and it stank - we were definitely back in India. Livestock travel in more comfort, but its all part of the fun. And we then experienced one of our favourite parts of India with some cheap and very tasty curry with an American couple we had met. Then we got the 16 hour night train to Delhi, filled with all the magic of Indian rail travel, and we only arrived half an hour late! We got the metro to the area where we stayed. The metro system was quite unlike the India we know - clean, efficient, quiet, cool and beggar and streetseller-free!

Delhi wasn't initially as bad as we had been led to believe by other travellers (the reason we had left it out originally). But with a mild case of Delhi belly, the heat, and the hassle from Indian men Alice was soon pretty glad to be leaving India behind! We did some sights in New Delhi including Humayan's Tomb and Connaught Place (which had a McDonalds and a KFC, normally this would have been avoided but Alice's Delhi belly meant we "had" to go (to both)). The following day we went to Old Delhi which was a good contrast but very busy and chaotic, especially around the mosque which had some sort of mass angry gathering going on outside (Alice's opinion). We then went to Gandhi's memorial park which was really nice, quiet and peaceful, and then walked up round the bazaars.

We flew from Delhi airport to Hongkong where we stayed overnight on the airport floor. The flight was good, we were able to ask for as much food and drink as we liked - making the most of our expensive flight tickets! This morning we flew from Hongkong to Chengdu. China felt very different to India, cleaner and colder, no hassle and very little English. We weren't offered a taxi or a hotel once! But we managed to navigate ourselves onto a bus to the city centre and then walked for 2 hours through the modern feeling city with skyscrapers and a lively square in the middle of the city overlooked by a statue of Mao. The hostel we were looking for had closed down and moved and took some finding and asking of non-English speaking Chinese people who tried to point us in the right way. Things were made more difficult by the fact that Chinese road names make no sense and often change for no reason, and neither of us had any idea about Chinese characters, let alone being able to tell them apart in our tired state. But Sim's Cozy Garden Hostel was well worth the search, very cheap with good facilities, even a snooker table and homemade gym! We have also had some pretty awesome food, even if it is a bit of a lucky dip as to what you might get. Everything we have tried so far has been really good. The beer is also finally getting cheaper with the local Tsingtao lager which is pretty good. We spend 2 weeks in Sichuan before we fly to Japan.

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