This Ain’t No Holiday
We are both sick, really really sick, from 4 months of travelling and not taking a day off. Most of you will think that travelling is a constant jolly, one of those relaxing beach holidays that goes on forever, but for those of you that have been long term travelling before you will know what we mean when we say you need to take a break. Travelling for a long time can be really shit, incredibly tiring and when you are run down everything annoys you to the point of wanting to go home. Usually we are those jammy people you meet that never get colds, are always healthy, happy and full of energy. But today, we are feeling like utter crap. 2 weeks of unshakeable illness and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. What more can we do then stay in bed for 3 days?!
Escaping The Flu
Enough is enough, we need to move on. We escape our buggy pit of a hostel and make our way over to the Zhangjiajie mountains, one of China’s highest rated national parks that Avatar was supposedly based on. The pictures for this place look amazing, so we are excited to see it in the flesh. We make a brave escape from our sickness room and start a nightmare journey to the national park. We sit on a train with hard seats for the whole day with everyone on the carriage standing up to stare at us, shouting in conversation, hocking and blaring out loud music. Next we have to take a crappy mini-bus on dirt roads for the next 2 hours, bouncing around in the back seats. This is hellish considering we haven’t been out in 3 days and our heads are pounding. Finally we get to the entrance, try to leave our bags in storage but the locker doesn’t work without a phone. Great, on top it all we now have to trek into one of Chinas biggest national parks carrying 20kg of bag each and a carrier bag of food. We really don’t have the energy or the head for this right now!
Planet Of The Apes
As soon as we get inside everything seems a bit better. From the entrance you get a glimpse of the ginormous floating rock formations that make up the national park and as far as we can see it doesn’t look nearly as touristy as other places in China. We head for our hostel, the Tongfu Inn, we just need to get a bus, walk a bit, get another bus, get a cable car and walk a bit more and then we are there. Sounds a bit much for a sick person to comprehend so we are just taking it one step at a time. We jump off the first bus and make our way up, clambering slowly up a stair path on the mountain. One of the tourists walks past us with a nervous face and gestures up the path… ‘monkeys’ he says in broken English. This is super exciting as neither of us have seen monkeys before, and they are just ahead making their way down either side of the handrails coming towards us. Man there are a lot of them… 20? 30? They are passing at head height which is a bit unnearving and there isn’t anywhere else to go other than up or down this boardwalk. Mark continues on and tries to pass the first one, he is the biggest and the alpha male of the group. He is about half the size of a person with big balls and a flaming red face. Before Mark can even get past, the alpha monkey swipes the food bag and rips open the front with his claws. He snatches a blueberry bread roll and shoves it in his mouth in one go. At this point we are freaking out. We look around and realise that NO ONE except us has bags of food, and people start laughing as more monkeys run down the handrails towards us. We have been ambushed.
‘Run!’, Ali cries from the back, but Mark’s trying other tactics…. hissing at the monkeys as he clings on tight to his food bag of overpriced snacks. The monkeys take this as a threat and start hissing back at him, flashing their enormous teeth as we pass. We look back and see the alpha male sprinting on all fours back up the handrail towards us, blueberry bread spluttering from his mouth as he runs. He’s back on us and looking for his next snack. There are monkeys everywhere, from all angles. We are running up this mountain as fast as we can with the biggest backpacks you have ever seen, clinging onto our snack bags for dear life. As monkeys pass we are hissing and shouting, trying to scare them off. The Chinese tourists haven’t seen anything like it and are killing themselves laughing. The bigger monkeys are still hissing back at us and look like they are going to kill us and steal our food, our legs are hurting so much from the bag weight but we keep on going. We are red in the face by the time we reach the top and throw down one more blueberry bread as a distraction whilst we make our get away. We can’t believe it. Our first encounter with monkeys and we were well and truly screwed! Those damn monkeys.
To Make Matters Worse
We catch our breath on the next bus and make our way up to the chairlift, not long to go now…. nearly there. The chairlift is an excessive 150 yuan (£15) for a few minutes ride which we are pretty annoyed about, but if it makes us closer to getting into bed then so be it. We get to the top and try to find the hostel and we can’t, because it’s not there. Turns out the bloody hostel is just where we had come from, at the bottom of the chairlift. We try to explain what’s happened to the ticket lady and she couldn’t care less. Buy another ticket or get lost. 300 yuan (£30) on chairlifts that we weren’t supposed to get is ridiculous! We are so pissed off. 300 yuan is one persons budget for the day when travelling. We have no other choice other than to pay the money and get the stupid chairlift again. We are so angry.
We arrive in the hostel, flustered, poorer, and can’t believe what has just happened. The crappy journey we did to get there, the crazy monkeys stealing our food, the annoying expensive chairlift mistake. Its too much for our fuzzy heads to take right now, but in a couple of days when we feel better again it will be very funny indeed. We sleep that night with terrifying images of wide-eyed salivating monkeys chasing us with blueberry bread hanging out their mouths. They were chanting…. ‘GIMME….. MORE…… BLUEBERRY…… BREAD.’
(If you liked it that is)