© 2011 notworkrelated - David Rutter & Helen Roscoe. All rights reserved. notworkrelated Stuck In Limbo

China – Stuck In Limbo – 11th – 13th December

Our train left Tunxi at around 11pm so it was a long wait at the hostel until this time. Even in a quiet town there will always be lots of people waiting to get trains. It was pretty smooth as when we boarded the train most people were already sleeping so we found our bunks and got off to sleep. The next day was quite a long one, we weren’t due to arrive at Huaihua until 4pm but the train was delayed by two hours which meant that we got in at 6. There was a heated debate with our fellow Chinese passengers as to whether we would be able to make it to Fenghuang that night. Some were saying we wouldn’t make it, the roads are too bad, the buses don’t drive safely at night etc…One lady offered to help us barter for a taxi to get us there as this would be the safest option given the circumstances. We thought we’d try this option as it would cost us a lot to stay for one night in Huaihua.

She was very true to her word and managed to get us a taxi for 280RMB, although she couldn’t speak any English we managed to get by and she took down the taxi drivers phone number in case there were any problems. We soon realised this was not going to be a short trip, after an hour or so we were still a good 40km away from Fenghuang. The roads were terrible and the rain kept coming down, we decided to give him 300RMB because the trip was a lot longer and more difficult than we had imagined. After 80km we came to stop…there was a road blockage up ahead with no way of getting around it, a group of people in a small shack were communicating information across the area and we st with them for a short while before deciding we would have to turn around. The lady who had helped us was pretty distressed and her friend who spoke English was on the phone apologising on her behalf and saying they have arranged one of their close friends to help us find a hotel in the next town. This was 30km or so away!

We eventually got to the hotel after several phone calls going back and forth between the taxi driver and our Chinese helper and met Mr Wu. It was getting late and the hotel informed us they only had business suites available at 400RMB. Some cheap night this was turning out to be!! A few minutes later another man appeared on the scene, he took us to one side and showed us his police badge, he was trying to get us to go with him. We had no idea what to do or whether he really was a real policeman. There was a lot of chatting on phones and not a lot of doing. We tried ringing the hostel in Fenghuang but the number on hostelworld didn’t work so we were stuck. After a lot of debating and a little panic from Helen we finally got a room and the policeman had managed to get it for us at half price. They said they would meet us at 9am the following day to arrange for us to get to Fenghuang. Another thing we would like to point out is that the email address for the hostel we had reserved was also incorrect as we received no response back from them!!

We managed to get some sleep and then the morning came along with a 9am knock at the door from Mr Wu. He took us to the bus station but here we found out the buses were going to the area of the road blockage but then we would have to get off and walk across to get taxis. We weren’t convinced so we decided the best thing to do would be take the bus back to Huaihua and get the next available train to Kunming.

After a 2 hour bus journey we got to the station and luck was on our side. We bought tickets for a sleeper train leaving at 2.40pm that afternoon!! YES!!! So off we went to buy snacks for the train and get a hot meal before leaving. This is where things started getting better for us. The food in a local eatery was really good, we simply pointed at our phrase book saying we like fish, tofu and vegetables and that’s what we got with some good flavours all for around £4.

We picked up our usual noodle snacks for the train and then got ready for the next leg of the journey. Around 18 hours later and we arrived in sunny Kunming. This was a very nice feeling to be walking into the sunshine capitol of Yunnan. We found Cloudland our hostel via a bus journey and some instructions from The lonely Planet, checked in and chilled out.

In the space of around 48 hours we spent a total 40 hours on two trains, a taxi and one bus. We spent money we didn’t want to spend and only saw the rain and landslides in Hunan province. But like we always say this is all part of the experience and adds to a good story at times.

(Leica M9, Summicron-M 50mm f2.0 & Olympus PEN, 17mm f2.8 & 100mm f2.8, processed in Lightroom 3)

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One Comment

  1. Graeme
    Posted 7 Jan ’11 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    such great reading and viewing guys, very jealous of your experiences!

    big love from a dull and boring UK


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