Three Gorges Dam

From Xi'an we took a day train to Yinchang, the closest city to the
three gorges dam. Our day train ended up arriving at midnight... And
after a rather unnerving taxi drive into the off roads trying to
locate our hostel, we arrived to our beds at nearly 2 am. It was a
darling little place with no lock on the door, black mold covering the
walls, and no other back packers in sight. There was air conditioning,
and clean (ish?) bedding, and I was so tired that, staving off my
negative thoughts of being murdered I love to torture myself with, I
managed to pass out. Jumped outta that bed at 6:30 and started packing.
" Should we leave our bags here for the day and come back for them?" -
"No. Let's just get the fuck out of here."

A mildly challenging engrish conversation with the lady at the front
desk... No we didn't want to pay the hostel for their tour, can she
just tell us how to take the bus to the gorges ...
And we were off. Walking in the rain for about 20 minutes we found our
first bus stop. It costs 1¥ (.15 cents) to ride the bus here! But it
was crowded and we were soaking wet and tired so the trip wasn't that
fun. 40 minutes later we arrived at the bus's last stop which is where
our hostel lady told us to transfer. Another rickety bus ride and we
transfered again to a more ' touristy' bus that cost 10¥ and would
take us to the Three Gorges tourist site. This bus was more
entertaining. Listening to Eric Clapton ( tears in heaven) and Boys 2
Men play over the radio in china was quite an experience. They seem
to love cheesy music here. Espescially from the 80s and 90s.
Another 45 minutes later we were at the take off site to view the dam.
This next bus cost us 100¥ and would take us to two viewing sights
plus a 'memorial park' ?
There wasn't another option unless we wanted to climb the roads on
foot but even so we'd get to the same places and it was now boiling
hot outside.

The bus took us to two viewing platforms. All landscaped and equipped
with lovely bathrooms - unheard of anywhere else in the country except
posh hotels. You got the feeling they wanted us to really love it
here. And marvel and ooo and ahh at how fabulous the Chinese are.
Mostly I felt regret for even coming and giving them my money but I
guess it was worth it. The sheer size of the project was amazing. I
read they used 10 million pounds of cement. And they've been working
on it since 1992. The concept was born in the 1920s though, and I
suppose was passed on through the ranks until somebody had enough
balls to actually do it.

It made me sad to think about all the displaced families who were
forced to give up their land. Some who had lived there for
generations. There was no mention of these displaced persons at the
socalled 'Memorial Park' - just tourist shops and ponds of goldfish.
In guessing to show how healthy the water is and how much they care
about nature. Hmph
I'm glad I went. But it wasn't an inspiring trip. Maybe if I was more
into the colossal physics water dams Id've been thrilled.
Back on a trillion buses to get to downtown Yichang. A nice man on our
last bus helped us find our hotel. He lived nearby and would show us
where to get off.
Yay a hotel!!!! You can imagine my relief after almost two weeks of
hostels to arrive somewhere with clean beds and fresh towels. After
two showers, and a good dinner I fell asleep in peace. No Mosquitos,
no bed bugs, no black mold, no people walking through our room to get
to another one. Yipee !
The loveliness was short lived though, both my sister and I both woke
up with food poising and spent the entire day bed ridden then dragged
ourselves to the train station for more puking, but this time on stage
infront of a crowded waiting room of chinese fascinated with watching
the white girl puke her guts out. Am I having fun yet? ;)
After our long long train to Guanzhou we felt much better. We said
goodbye to boo's friend and hopped a highspeed train to Shenzen ( just
an hours trip) where we crossed the border into hong kong and rode the
metro downtown. Goodbye China! What a wacky place. Sad it had to end
with me being horribly I'll but it was quite a trip. I wont lie I am
happy to be somewhere i can speak the language and go into the
washrooms without gagging. 2 days in hong kong await then home !!!

Pruned surroundings. Very nice washrooms. (rare) They really wanted
us to like this place.

On the train to Yichang, this little jelly roll's parents kept leaving
her flying solo in the 3rd bunk above me. I kept checking on her and
waiting to catch her!! They seem to be less concerned about danger
here :)


Food poisoning sucks

If you knew how dirty these floors were you'd understand how
desperately ill we felt to be willing to lay on them.
Luckily we were at a hotel for the night and day. Running to the
bathroom every 20 minutes with the runs and violent barfing. Here we
are at the train station later that day laying on the spit covered
floor. Everytime I tried to stand up I felt like I was going to faint.
Then Projectile vomitted all the water I'd been trying to drink. First
time I made it to the garbage and everyone just stood gawking at me as
I puked my guts out. Clutching my stomach and crying. Second time I
didn't make it and puked water all over the floor. I was so embarassed
and frustrated but no one even cared they just walked through it. Made
it to the train and slept for 12 hours. I feel better now :)
Off to hong kong. I'm super excited to explore the flower and bird
Here's hoping we don't get sick. There is nothing as bad as being sick
in a foreign country. Checking that off my list!:)



Surrounded by enormous stone walls, Much more relaxed and 'rustic'
than the larger cities we've been to, Xi'an made me feel immediately
comfortable. I knew my way around pretty quickly and enjoyed the sort
of market feel that the streets had. This is the most produce I've
seen sofar. Amazing mushrooms, peaches everywhere, herbs and giant
green onions. Butchers in the street with the hunks of meat just
laying out on the tables. Beautiful parks and friendly faces. The
framework of the city worked like a grid between the huge stone walls
that have apparently been there since 62 AD. Much of the city's
architecture seemed to be old. Old and slightly forgotten.
Walking around the empty canals and abandoned temples I got the sense
that there must have been a much brighter life here many years ago
before things like water pollution and technology became our reality.
We did find one temple which was still up and running and we listened
to some ceremonies and watched as people prayed and burned incense.
Id've taken more pictures but felt it wasn't something that was meant
to be photographed. To get in to the temple everyone had to pay an
entrance fee. It was small but it still made me sad that some people
who have been a part of this religion for many many years now have to
pay to pray. Incense floated through the air and everyone was quiet.
It was a nice refuge from the loud and boisterous streets. Leaving
the temple grounds, we had to wade through crowds of disfigured and
emaciated beggars. Some of them wheeling on boards, not able to walk
or stand. There seems to be a great disparity between classes here.
The lowest of which have been quite frightening to see. Nothing like I
have ever seen before. Not in person. These dark realities of this
trip have made me realize how lucky I am. And how glad I am to be
living in Canada.
This became apparent in a funny way on our last night. After a day
adventuring to the terracotta warrior site, we rented bikes from our
hostel and took of in search of 'Big Goose Pagoda'
We got lost. We weaved between the traffic. The traffic. The traffic
is insane here. Nothing like biking in the sleepy lake side town of
Hangzhou at the beginning of our trip. These drivers are crazy and in
numbers ! There is a bike lane but most people are just walking all
across it in crowds. We had to ding our bells furiously. As we got
further into the congested main roads the traffic started to clog up.
All at once a huge bus pulled off the main road and careened infront
of us and used the bike path! Then ! Further along as even the bike
lane got clogged with traffic a cab drove up, past the bike lane and
started driving on the sidewalk. I watched in amazement and laughed
out loud to myself imagining how hard we think we have it with
'cyclist rights' in Toronto.
We managed to find the Pagoda and saw some pretty water fountain show
and then biked home. What an accomplishment. Did I mention the left
pedal of my bike kept falling off? I had to stop every ten minutes to
reattach it.
Whew china. What a wacky wonderful place.
Day train to Yichang today. Heading there to see the three gorges dam.

Thanks for the net Diana!! Despite it and a full body soaking in
muskol I still managed to get two huge mosquito bites that night

Lunch for .45 cents

I wanted to buy this !

Fridge? Hell naw

Larvae? I wanted to try them but wasn't sure how to eat them

Sleeper train to Yichang

Home for the day. I'm so high up. I had to climb a rickety ladder at
the end of the bed like a monkey! And there are two higher beds than
14 hours to go! Thank god we are not on the floor this time.


Da Dong

On our last night in Beijing. Before our train to Xi'an, I ( with much
pleading and bribing) dragged the girls to Da Dong. A famous Beijing
restaurant hailed for their roast duck. If I was going to have Peking
duck, damn sure I was going to have to sniff out the best place to get
it. Word of mouth aswell as a review I found in a Beijing magazine
cemented my plan. We HAD to go. If we didn't I'dve regretted it forever.

We were definately looking like serious hobos and I was unsure if
they'd let us in with our giant backpacks but they didn't mind. The
dining room was formal but relaxed. I saw a woman in sweat pants and
flip flops and decided we were going to be ok.

The menu was epic. Not only extensive but physically humungous! I wish
I could have had a copy. I scribbled down as many as I could. I was so

I wished I'd had 7 stomachs and 70 hungry friends to try the many
exotic sounding dishes:

Crispy kelp
Pickled jellyfish
Sauteed fresh mushroom with goose liver
Sauteed gingko nuts with lily bulbs
Steamed humphead wrasse with green shallot
Steamed leopard coral grouper
Grilled French blue lobster
Hairy crab ( in shell)
Braised shark fin with saffron sauce ( I know I know but it's a
delicacy here)
Steamed egg with crab roe
Sliced Canadian geoduck with alfalfa
Barbequed Eel
Spicy turtle soup Sichuan style
Sauteed scallop with sweet corn
Crisp skin chicken
Sauteed venison with apple
Stewed oxtail with Longan & Honey
Braised beef tongue with garlic
.... It went on and on and on

I was like a kid in a candy store. The presentation was completely
amazing. Every dish they paraded out of the kitchen in poofs of steam
made my neck stick up like a giraffe and I had to restrain myself from
running over to other tables to photograph the food.

We ordered the famous duck which was carved table side by some pretty
serious young chefs with weird knives. The worked so efficiently and
slowly arranged the meat on dishes which were then presented on our
table with different accompaniments. I also tried the braised sea
cucumber. From what i could gather Chef Da Dong ( ya ya haha penis
poop pee fart) set out to perfect many signature Chinese dishes and
make them a little more refined and healthy. He developed a way to
roast the duck to the perfect tenderness and crispness while reducing
the fat by 50% so as to create a more healthy and palatable dish. It
was sooooooo good. My sister told me I'm a nerd but I have seriously
never tasted anything so delicious.
If I ever find myself in Beijing again I will be returning !

Me reading the colossal menu Yes looking like a frizzy haired grandma.

Sides to pair with the duck. Radish, cucumber, minced garlic, sugar,
onion, hoisin and two others I could not identify but very much enjoyed

Table setting

The duck being carved table-side


Getting there!

Et voilà! Expertly expertly presented.

Super paper thin steamed wraps to go with the duck.

Signature dish. Braised spiky sea cucumber. I had to try it! It was
really good. Perhaps not for everyone but I really liked it. It did
have a rubbery texture but the sticky black garlic sauce was amazing.
Checking that off my list ! :)

Lemon ice palate cleanser (?) that came with my sea cucumber

Digging in

Suprise peach sorbet for dessert ! Followed by plums

Plums! They were so delicious. Look at the wacky dry ice presentation.

The most adorable baby ever. Petit saucisson. I totally creeped her. I
was watching her for hours across the aisle and when then man sitting
next to them got off I couldn't help but go play with her. What a
little sausage. Her parents were so nice and let me take a picture.
( i'm such a tourist )

Boo channeling Marky Mark while journaling on the train. Ain't she the


The Great Wall

Climed the great wall today! Unfortunately it was very foggy so the
view was not all it could have been but it cleared up on the way down
and it was still soo beautiful. The mist swept over us all morning in
thick clouds. The hike was intense! Very very steep and full of trees
and plants we sometimes had to push our way through.
We had a funny group so we all kept eachother going with funny jokes
and stories.
Every once and awhile there were lilies poking out. Tons of grass and
dew drops everywhere. It was so beautiful and the air felt so nice in
my lungs.
After we climbed down ( which was almost more painful than climbing
up) we had lunch down the road at big round tables. Talking and
laughing with our new foreign friends who like us are backpacking
through china. Bus ride home took 4 hours because of traffic. Once we
were back I went wandering by myself again ( sorry mom) and bought
tons of green tea and now I'm about to pop some benadryls and pass
out. Forbidden City tomorrow! And then an overnight train to Xi'an.
Got seats this time. Fewf.
Miss you all very much. Home sick here and there but mostly having a
great time!

Look at the spectacular view!

Cold morning

Alot of the wall was broken and crumbled.

Tower 6

Steep !

A break in the clouds

Boo and her friend had this inside joke to dress up in these full body
suits on the great wall. Everyone thought they were crazy but
hilarious. I pretended I didn't know them ;);)

Communal lunch post hike