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June 28 - Sanjiang
China - Hidden Dragon, Sleeping Workers

Exploring ChinaExploring China (William Gray)
June 28 - Sanjiang ''Bridges Without Nails''

After spending 4 nights and 3 days on the President No. 1 Yangtze River Cruise from Chongqing to Yichang we caught a train to Sanjiang. We actually got pretty lucky arriving at the station when we did. There was only one train headed that direction and it was leaving in 10 minutes. This sort of thing happened to us alot along the trip. It made me think of The Amazing Race and how everything just seemed to work out perfectly whenever we needed it to.

Anyway, we bought tickets on a Hard Sleeper, it was cheaper and the time before when we did this from Luoyang to Xian it seemed ok. Big mistake that was.

It saved us alot of money making this decision, at least it seemed that way. Maybe 40 RMB, about $5-$6. It was probably at least 100 degrees outside this afternoon and there was no air conditioner on the train.

Probably the hottest and most uncomfortable i've ever been. But being the great traveler i am it didn't affect me too much, i fell asleep in about 10 minutes. My brother on the other hand spent the entire 10 hour ride fanning himself off. He later said i looked like i was dead. He didn't know how it was possible anyone could sleep on that train.
So after the great train ride we arrive in a little station outside of Sanjiang around 2 in the morning.
I think we were the only 2 people to get off here. Right away a lady comes running up to us and asked if we needed a place to sleep.

She said it would be 40 RMB for the both of us, about $6. Being 2 AM we had nowhere to go and said yes. She said we could stay at her house and to follow her. Not knowing what was going on I felt uneasy about it at first, but decided i might as well check it out. She took us about 50 yards into an alley where her house was. The area was full of about 10-15 locals sitting around playing cards, remember, this is 2 AM. who is up at 2 AM, outside, without shirts on, playing cards? I guess the chinese.

She takes us through what seemed like a garage turned into a kitchen. Then up some stairs to an empty room with three cot looking beds with a bamboo bed spread. The walls and floors were cement, but it seemed like it would do for the night.

There was a mechanical fan and the lady lit some incense in the room for us, i guess to keep bugs away or to make it smell good? i don't know.

My brother said there was a huge spider under my bed, but i never saw it. Which was good, otherwise I probably wouldn't have slept much. I didn't want that crawling on me at night.
We woke up pretty early in the morning, i think around 8 AM, what seemed late since everyone else seems to wake up around 4 AM.

We came to this area to see the bridges of Sanjiang. They're pretty extravagant and made with no nails, so I figured they'd be worth a look-see. Having no clue if we were actually in Sanjiang or where the bridges could be we decided to walk down to the main street and hike around. Again, having no clue where they were we decided to just pick a direction.

After about 45 minutes of walking around with 60+ pound backpacks in 100+ degree heat we decided we were probably walking the wrong way and should look for a taxi and just find a bus or tain to our next destination and forget the stupid bridges.

We saw plenty of taxis, all of which seemed to be trying to run us over and already full of passengers. So we hiked back 45 minutes to the train station. Did I mention that the road wasn't very flat, I had 60 lbs on my back, and it was scorching heat? We finally made it back to the train station, which seemed closed, but ironically full of people.

This area is where alot of the minority groups live, i'm not sure which one it was, but they didn't seem like they had seen many foreigners before. We sat down in the waiting room after being told that the ticket office would open at 2pm, it was 12pm at this point. A group of about 5 or 6 ladies just turned and stared at us as we took our packs off covered in sweat and sat down. and not pretend stare or glances like you make when you see something interesting.

But staring, not blinking, not talking, just staring. it was a weird feeling. finally some other ladies came in and they started talking to them, and talking very loudly, too loudly. after sitting around for an hour, being stared at, and almost going def we decided to just try to find a taxi and see if we could get someone to take us to either the bridges or the bus station.

Some guy ripped us off, 100 RMB to take us to the bridges and back to the train station. It was an interesting ride, like all taxis in china. There was lots of scenery along the way and lots of honking and swerving, you know, the usual chinese taxi ride.


So we get to the bridge after about 20 minutes. It cost 30 RMB to walk across to the other side to some little village. We got some pictures and looked around for about an hour.

It was an interesting bridge and worth the trip, if you like bridges. so finally we get back in the taxi and he takes us back to the train station. No train in sight, we decided to flag down another taxi and have him take us to the bus station. We later realized that the originally taxi driver had asked us in chinese if we wanted to go to the bus station or train station, but we didn't put two and two together until we discovered we were going back the same way we had just come from.
So we get to the bus station and jump on a bus to Longsheng, which happened to be leaving about 15 minutes after we arrived. Again, good timing on our part. It was a pretty short ride, a couple hours maybe. So now we'd seen Sanjiang and it's bridges, or bridge. There may have been more. I don't know. It was overall an interesting day.

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