What to do, where to go? After watching the Dutch documentary “Langs de oevers van de Yangtze” I always wanted to do a Yangtze river cruise. But, that would take too long and is quite pricy, so I decided to visit just one of the villages the cruise ships always dock. Fengdu it is!
I booked a train ticket (easy on Ctrip) and looked up what touristy things you could do there. Two fun things, a cave and the most famous thing, a visit to Ming mountain, humoristically called the Ghost city (丰都鬼城), since the “King of Hell” used to reside there.
Without any problems I exchange my digital ticket for a paper one. But from here on my day starts to get a tad more difficult. When I want to enter the train station with my ticket and passport, I get refused. The guy doesn’t speak any English and just points toward the exit. Ehmmmm, what’s wrong? Standing outside I have no clue what to do. I ask other expats on a wechat* group what I did wrong, sending a picture of the entrance and my ticket. Reply comes quickly and apparently I am at the right station, but it has two squares, North and South. I take a 5 minute taxi drive to the other square and they let me in. Let the games begin!
Or not….When I arrive in Fengdu there is only a long line of taxis waiting and 4 busses without numbers on them. Hmmmm. I was told to take the 109, so I ask which one it is. In no time the bus is packed and there is no room left for me and many others. Okay, taxi is fine…. I tell him Ming shan and off we go….to somewhere else…. We drive for about 40 minutes high up to a mountain. I am not convinced that this is the place I wanted to go. But hey, I’m a foreigner, he’ll understand I want to go to somewhere tourists go, right? And indeed. He drops me off along a beautiful blue river and I buy a ticket at a small window, still not sure what for.
I get into a small boat where we have to wear lifejackets, even though it takes about 2 minutes to cross the river, the water is probably 1,5 meter deep and I am a pretty good swimmer. But hey, no problem, I’ll wear it with a smile. I walk up the mountain and get to the entrance where I see where I am since it has pictures and English text to explain. I’m at the Snow Jade caves (xueyu雪玉洞). Good, I wanted to come here anyways after the ghost city.
The 1 hour tour is in Chinese, but the caves are beautiful and I’m glad the driver took me here. Outside I see some kids staring and pointing at something. Curious as I am, I have to take a look as well of course. There are two monkeys sitting on the wall, looking right back at us. I guess a mother and her baby. Very cute.
So now I’m in the middle of nowhere and no taxis to be seen. The girl at the ticket booth points towards the street when I ask her for a taxi. Okay, so I just stand there and after a few minutes I see a bus coming. I look at it and it stops, opens its doors. Apparently I can take this one? No idea where we are going, but I pay the 8 yuan the girl asks for and off we go. When I get to a town I decide to get off the bus and give the Ming shan another try. I still have 2,5 hours and really want to see this ghost town.
No taxi is willing to stop for this waiguoren and I’m losing hope. Two teenage girls are watching me from across the street and are brave enough to come talk to me. “Excuse me, you are beautiful. Can I take picture?”. Alright, not in the mood, but I want to reward their courage, so just do it. I ask them if they can help me. They smile from ear to ear and seem honored to help me. They get me a taxi easily and drive all the way with me. I’m a bit uncomfortable because I don’t know if they even needed to go this way. At the mountain I get out, pay the driver and surprisingly they also get out of the taxi. They walk me all the way to the entrance and show me where to buy a ticket, bless them! I ask them if they want to come, but no. they have homework to do and a great story to tell back home about how they saved the white girl.
The mountain is wonderful in some spots and very phony with scary sounds blasting through speakers at other places. Very interesting how they have tried to make this already beautiful place with lots of history, into a tourist spot by adding new sculptures and sound effects. Excited and quite proud I made it through the day, I look for a taxi to take me back to the train station. Hmmm, no taxis again and no busses. I am just standing there trying to figure out how to get back when I hear “hello?” A guy points at his car and says “bus, you?”. Sure why not. I ask in my best Chinese how much and can even get the price down to a –still way too much- 40 yuan. But who cares, I’m on my way back and had an adventurous day and took great pictures, oh so happy!
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