Friday, December 7, 2007

Mongolia - Hohhot III

It was soon night and we made our way to the train station to our next exciting destination - Da Tong. The temperature was pretty low and we warmed ourselves up with their local instant noodles while waiting for our train.

To our disaster, 148234234834 million low-income peasants were also waiting for the train. It was a awful experience, the horde of chinese swarmed and pushed to the front when the train approaches, the scene bearing reminiscent to the crowd rushing in to put the first joss stick during chinese new year at the Guan Yin temple at Bugis during new year. The vision was bleak, with the ladies and old trampled and squeezed out to the back while sacks of goods like potatoes and whatever were flying over our heads as if the peasants could own a seat if their goods reach first. Some fell into the tracks in the mad rush to board. The group was separated by the human tidal wave and I was the last to board, giving way to the poor ladies who are too weak to fight the tide...

After getting on board, we then realised some ignorant chinese worker took our seats. They refuse to budge saying that they don't believe in the seating system and that there are seats at the back. We went to the back row of empty seats, settled down and then a gang of vietnamese workers came up and surrounded us. They say its their seats and of course 4 against a gang of vietnamese if no joking matter. In the end, we went back to the ignorant chinese worker and persuaded him with our ticket served with a threat to get the train conductor.

The guys attempting to put on a smile...

Though it was only 4 hours, the over-night train felt like hell freezing over - cold and long.
We attempted to sleep, but the seat was really "hard-seat" as so it was named. The back rest was totally vertical, so all the time I was trying to find some depression that was non-existant to lean into. In the end, I gave up and went back into fighting for leg and hand space on the small table shared by the our opposite communters.

Finally, it was over. Sleepy-head sam who has the ability to sleep anywhere in any condition.

shagg-faced guys...

and the ladies...

In the freezing cold, we hurried out of the tunnel, marking the end of the memorable train ride.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Mongolia - Hohhot II

Backpacking into the unknown. One of my very first. This is my first time backpacking and the first time I'm travelling without any planning. Basically its just taking anything that comes along. The first day is about touring Hohhot, capital city of Inner Mongolia. Here is the guys with their backpacks. The girl with Ivan is Ah Nam, a kawaii korean whom we got to know during the mongolia trip. She is currently studying Chinese in beijing and decided to join us to tour for awhile.

Mongolian inscriptions looked like centipedes - exotic and mysterious.

Okay. Hohhot capital of enigmatic mongolia is about motorcycles.

Its about 213452342 cars and taxis

The first thing that we do like in all our travel stops is to get train tickets to the next destination. Here's Hohhot's Train station. Look at the difference in size of the two bags. One of us is definitely bringing excess baggage.

The gang in the train station.

Our first train ticket in china. It costs only about 2+ sgd for hard seat? Well, for that price it also proved to be the most "memorable" train ride ever...which I will touch on later.

On to the next destination! In tuk tuks! (It was not a matter of choice, we couldn't get any cabs)

Hmm...Exotic vernacular, post-mod mongolian architecture?

The best travel buddies :)

Dazhao temple. Oldest building in Inner Mongolia (1580) and houses the rare 2.5 metres high silver statue of Buddha. Here is the plaza built to accomodate us tourist.

Strange braces holding up the ornate roof of the gate-way.

Our first place of interest in our back-packing trip!

South-east asian architecture in Mongolia. Don't the two posts look like the masts in Mazhu temple all over SEA?

Aura over the karma Wheel ( Its clock-wise sam! duh.)

Interior of Mongolian temple. All gold, rainbow and tibetian.

After visiting the temple, we entered into our first pedestrainised street in china, selling all sorts of gifts and goods.

It was the evening and the kids from the local school made their way home. They looked simply adorable in their communist-looking red gab.

Ivan in all smiles after having quenched his thirst at the teahouse.

I really wonder how pigs can be kept as pets...

More temples after the break.

Our first ride in China's Public Bus! I have to give it to the quality of bus transport in China. The audio system reports the current stop as well as the next stop, it cost only 1 RMB to get to anywhere, the visual display gives up-to-date information of the location of the bus as well as the name of next station. SBS and Transit pales so much in comparison! The only draw-back is having to squeeze with 328735792134 Ah diongs...

Look at Lady Vegeance! ( da chang jing) Doesn't Ah Nam look just like her!

Here is one of the many location where we hide our cash with us. The idea is to have as many "lifes" as possible. As what sam said, "It would take more than 6 robbery to make me a pauper!" I just pity the guy that makes financial transaction with us. Ha Ha.

What the hell is this doing in china...It really explains why the world needs architects. Seriously.