Hello everyone! Last night I got a little taste of the Chinese emergency room as I have another miserable infection. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. I was out and about trying to brave out my discomfort when I decided I was in too much pain and wanted to go home. Our friend Michael was nice enough to take us to a 24 hour hospital nearby to get me some medicine. I showed up around 2 am with no ID or anything and was out within about a half hour. I came in, told my symptoms to a doctor who was standing in the hallway and he sent me to the cashier to pay for the visit. It was 8RMB, or about $1.50. Then they ran some tests almost immediately and prescribed me a pain killer, an antibiotic and two different kinds of Chinese medicine. The pharmacy was in the building and I had my medicine instantly. The whole thing set us back about $30 and that’s mostly because of an expensive pain killer. It was kind of dirty, and definitely not up to the sanitation/privacy/organization standards of a hospital in the United States (they never even got my real name- they wrote down Eria Lide on the form) but I couldn’t believe how easy and efficient it was. A trip to the ER would never be that straightforward and quick at home! Plus, I don’t have insurance anymore so it would probably cost me a ridiculous amount for the visit and the medication. Anyway, today I’m not feeling very well at all but since I’ve just been laying around, I figured I’d try to post some pictures of the first part of our Chongqing trip. I’m feeling a little loopy, though, so I’ll probably make it short and sweet.
After our 10 hour train ride, we arrived in Chongqing at about 7am last Thursday. The hostel where we were staying wouldn’t let us check in until 2. Originally we had decided to skip out on the Dazu Rock Carvings, even though they’re considered a must see in the area, because we wanted to have plenty of time to wander around, relax, and feel out the city. However, our train dropped us off right next to the bus station and we had nothing else to do that early in the morning, so we decided to go for it. We thought we would be back in time to spend the afternoon bumming around downtown Chongqing. Nothing is ever easy, though, and it turned out our guidebook was WAY outdated and unhelpful about how to go about a trip to Dazu. Oh, the fun of traveling.
The trip from Chongqing to Dazu is about 2.5 hours. Buses run frequently starting at about 6 am and we were immediately able to board a bus and go. Each ticket was around 45RMB, I believe, so about $7/person each way. The problems began when we arrived in Dazu as the carvings are a bit outside the city where the bus drops you off. There are several different sites in the area with carvings but each one has it’s own admission fee, so we settled for the biggest and best preserved one: Baodingshan. The blurb in our guidebook said something about taking a bicycle cab type deal to some other place where we could get a shared van the rest of the way up, but when we got off the bus it was in no way obvious how to do this or where to find a shared van. Because it was pouring down rain, we decided to go ahead and take a cab the whole way to save time and stress. The one way trip cost 40RMB (no driver would use his meter), which was definitely a rip off but felt like a bargain to me as I was about done standing in the rain being confused at that point.
When we got to Baodingshan our taxi dropped us off outside the parking lot. From there we walked through a little town type thing with touristy shops and restaurants and up a hill to get to the actual entrance. We couldn’t see from where we were dropped off how far we had to walk and people were riding by with bike rickshaws nagging us constantly to drive us up. We finally paid someone 5RMB to literally take us about 100 ft around a corner and felt cheated even though it cost us less than a dollar. For future reference, we could definitely have walked.
The big downer came when we finally arrived at the gate and saw that ticket prices had almost doubled since our guidebook had been updated. We were each expecting to pay 80RMB, but they ended up being 140RMB each! Ouch. That ate up most of our vacation fund all at once. But since we came all that way we had no choice but to suck it up and go for it.
Once we were in we were glad we went. It was amazing. It’s a UNESCO heritage site and the carvings are HUGE and very well preserved. I will let the pictures speak for themselves. However, the whole site took us about 45 minutes (if that) to walk around, so it ended up being a lot of money and travel for about an hour of sightseeing. If I had to do it all again knowing how much things cost and how long it would take to actually get there I don’t know what I would do. It’s a drag to get there but it really is cool..
Getting back to Chongqing was a lot more of being confused and shooing away touts (they are everywhere in this town), but we did manage to save a few bucks by catching a shared minibus halfway back to the bus station (3RMB/person), and then found out that we could take bus 1 the rest of the way from there (1RMB/person). Although, I didn’t know crowded and uncomfortable until I rode on bus 1 in Dazu! Totally inadvisable for claustrophobics. We didn’t make that good of a mental note about where the bus station was when we set out, so we spent awhile wandering about being lost in the rain before we finally found it and set back for Chongqing.
We got back to the city around 6 pm, and then spent awhile getting to our hostel, checking-in, etc., so this ended up taking a full one of our 2 days in Chongqing. I realize I may not have made this day sound very fun, but we actually had a really good time! We loved the actual site, and the rain made it uncrowded and cool. We also just enjoyed spending a full day together, as this is a rare treat for us during our time in China. And finally, we love traveling, no matter how bad at it (read: constantly under prepared) we seem to be.
Love you all. I’ll finish up talking about our trip next week.