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abcdefg

A look at Jianshui 云南建水县城 -- Guest house and lunch

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somethingfunny
1 hour ago, abcdefg said:

seldom snows in the winter

 

Snowed when I was there!

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abcdefg
26 minutes ago, somethingfunny said:

Snowed when I was there!

 

Unlucky for sure! And I'll bet the locals accused you of bringing it down with you from the north.

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Shelley

Looks idyllic, just the sort of place I would go to. Once again thanks for sharing.

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Alex_Hart

Jianshui! Ahhh! Land of tofu and warm winter days and beautiful 院子! 

 

Thanks for bringing back good memories, abc. I went around February 18th by train from Kunming in the morning, then went by bus to Yuanyang in the afternoon (best bus ride ever, by the way). It was probably the train ride where I got the most stares, ever, in China. While I really enjoy taking long distance, slow trains in China and chatting up the locals, I was pretty worried by the expressions on some peoples' faces on that train to Jianshui - it looked like they might have a heart attack. I tried to talk to some people in Chinese just to relax them (something along the lines of 这里的风景真好看!) which caused one auntie to start telling everyone in the car that I was a 新疆人. :P It was also a notable train ride because the conductors came through to sell the weirdest things - 3 tooth brushes for 10 yuan, bags of "grape candy" for 40 yuan each. Even more odd was how many people actually bought those things!

 

I regretted the short stay. A highlight of tourism in China are the 古典园林 and 古典院子,classical gardens and courtyards, and Jianshui had a rather charming one. After touring and sitting under the warm winter sun (20 degrees!), I enjoyed some delicious and cheap 烧豆腐 (if you haven't seen a pattern - this dish was a highlight of Kunming, Jianshui and Yuanyang for me. I guess I like tofu!) and walked around the Confucian garden. Then I ran for the bus to Yuanyang.

 

The bus was a pretty awesome ride - winding one lane roads that hugged the side of mountains on dirt roads, giving way to stunning views. I've only been afraid of being in a moving vehicle twice in my life - once in 沙溪, once in 建水, both times in Yunnan!

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abcdefg

Glad that it brought back good memories for you, @Alex_Hart. I like Jianshui a lot; thought about moving there in fact. The weather was warm and sunny last week, just right for a light jacket outside. 

 

I'll post some pictures from the main tourist places there later tonight or tomorrow. 

 

You're right about that slow train being interesting. No commercial opportunity is lost in the Middle Kingdom. On my ride, one could buy everything from the flexible head toothbrushes you saw to cheap electric razors probably made from recycled soda-pop cans; dried fruit and nuts of every description. The uniformed vendors never stopped plying their captive audience. 

 

IMG_20180105_073906.thumb.jpg.06beaa34198d5d465c97a6b6233cd9dc.jpgIMG_20180105_080043.thumb.jpg.cb02840d96fb73b8c7e92c0dbd06485f.jpg

 

My ticket cost the equivalent of about $5 US in a hard seat compartment 硬座。For a little under 100 Yuan, one could upgrade to a hard sleeper bed 硬卧。

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somethingfunny

Why would you get a sleeper on such a short journey?

 

And I hated those vendors coming through plying their wares.  It always made me feel a bit awkward, but I guess that's because I was imagining how it would go down back home.

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abcdefg
10 hours ago, somethingfunny said:

Why would you get a sleeper on such a short journey?

 

I didn't. Just walked down there to snap a quick picture for the benefit of people who have never taken Chinese trains. Wanted to let them see that, even though you can stretch out, the bunks are stacked three high. Getting into the top one requires a "Monkey King" level of agility. 

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DavyJonesLocker
3 hours ago, abcdefg said:

 

I didn't. Just walked down there to snap a quick picture for the benefit of people who have never taken Chinese trains. Wanted to let them see that, even though you can stretch out, the bunks are stacked three high. Getting into the top one requires a "Monkey King" level of agility. 

 

Took one once, never again.  No way could I sleep on it given the constant noise and commotion

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abcdefg
2 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

No way could I sleep on it given the constant noise and commotion

 

That's been my experience too, @DavyJones. But on long trips I often am still willing to pay extra just to take my shoes off and lie down. That top bunk, however, really is tight. The ceiling seems like it is right in one's face; not very much clearance. 

 

On the return trip to Kunming, several days later, we took the last train of the day out of Mengzi 蒙自 after visiting Yuanyang 元阳。It was nearly sold out and we wound up buying tickets that allowed us to perch on the lower bunk in hard sleeper class. So it was four facing four. So four other passengers were sitting directly across from us, less than two feet away, three of them coughing and sneezing and blowing their noses. 感冒了 up close and personal. 

 

This was a train that had started in Hekou 河口北站 near the border with Vietnam and would ultimately continue to Dali. The conductors wouldn't let any of the beds be made up until it reached Kunming at about 11 p.m. and converted to a true sleeper. Sitting squeezed in like that for over 4 hours was really uncomfortable. To add to the din, two people in our 8-person compartment were playing movies loud on their phones without bothering to use earphones. 

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Alex_Hart

It's a hot topic of contention among many of my Chinese friends whether the top bunk or bottom bunk are better. I took the top bunk several times, including for a 16-18 hour train ride from Hangzhou to Guilin. After taking another top bunk ride from Kunming to Dali and being woken up at 4 am by the lights that I couldn't escape, I tried the bottom bunk. Comfortable, but didn't feel safe, so now I mix bottom and middle bunk - bottom for quick overnight journeys and middle for longer ones.

 

I quite enjoy sleeping on these trains. I get to the destination fully rested and ready for a day of touring and get to meet many interesting people ranging from 白酒 drinking 叔叔s  to travel buddies. I also go pretty bonkers whenever I need to take a domestic flight - Hangzhou airport is prone to delaying your flight by 2 to 5 hours for no apparent reason, and I hate customs, so I find trains preferable to flying for almost any domestic travel. 

 

At least the 河口 train gave your friends a taste of the flexibility needed for Chinese travel? And the cell phone movies without head phones counts among the things I hate most about traveling in China. 

 

PSA: abcd is not kidding, you need Monkey King agility for the top bunk. I once saw a man face plant as he was trying to swing down. 

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Zbigniew
20 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

Took one once, never again.  No way could I sleep on it given the constant noise and commotion

 

35 minutes ago, Alex_Hart said:

I quite enjoy sleeping on these trains. I get to the destination fully rested and ready for a day of touring

Reading this, you have to agree with Iris Murdoch's sentiment: "There is a gulf fixed between those who can sleep and those who cannot. It is one of the great divisions of the human race." 

 

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DavyJonesLocker
11 hours ago, Zbigniew said:

Reading this, you have to agree with Iris Murdoch's sentiment: "There is a gulf fixed between those who can sleep and those who cannot. It is one of the great divisions of the human race." 

 

Indeed, I envy people like Alex. I am a very light sleeper at the best of times

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Alex_Hart
14 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

Indeed, I envy people like Alex. I am a very light sleeper at the best of times

If it makes you feel better, I have a hard time, too. I used to miss my train stop at least once a week because I'd unintentionally fall asleep. Sometimes, I woke up 40 minutes away from my original destination and had to backtrack.

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somethingfunny

Can you still smoke in the vestibule between carriages?

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abcdefg
1 hour ago, somethingfunny said:

Can you still smoke in the vestibule between carriages?

 

Yes. 

 

And each carriage or two also also has a boiling water dispenser to use with your instant noodles 方便面。No train ride is complete without one dose of them. The price has gone up now to 6 Yuan if you buy from the person pushing the food trolley. 

 

I remember trying to wash an apple with that boiling water on my first train ride a long time ago. That did not work out very well. 

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