Okay, now that we got the destination out of the way, let’s now focus on how we got there.
Some of you may be familiar with how people get around in China but others may not. So, before I start into the worst, most adventurous bus ride ever I am going to talk about some of the common forms of transportation in China.
As we all know, just about everyone in America owns a car. Okay, not every person, but most will own one at some point in time. Most families will commonly have 2 cars. Some kids will get one for their 16th birthday. However, in China, mass transportation is still the way to go. Not saying that you will not see cars here, more people are owning cars each year in China. A car is a huge status symbol. People owning cars is becoming a major issue with moving transportation through a huge city. But, your everyday average Chinese will still use mass transportation.
In a city, like the one I live in, taxis, buses, and a soon to be finished subway are the most used form of transportation. Then when you want to travel to other cities you will usually go by long distance buses or train. Side note, I use to like to take trains but have gotten over it since being here. Well, except for the really fast train to Shanghai. It is faster then Nascar. I think we have got close to 220mph on it. Side note ended. Also, airlines are starting to compete with trains as another major form of transportation. A train ticket to Beijing from Hangzhou will cost around 400 yuan and take about 11+ hours. You can usually pay 500-700 yuan for a 2 hour flight. Just a little more but saves a lot of time. At times we can even find flights cheaper than trains.
My first year in China I still loved to take trains. And it was still the cheapest way to cover a long distance. When I say long distance, I mean a LONG distance. We lived in the city of Ningbo my first year in China. It is a coastal city, located on the east coast of China. On a map you need to look for Shanghai and then look below it to find Ningbo. Compared to a US map, it might be in the area of Savannah, Georgia, or maybe a little north of it. The city we were heading to was called Chongqing. It is where the boat trip started. Looking at a US map it might be in the area of Utah, not exactly Utah, but just think about the distance compared to where Savannah is.
We needed to take a train to get there. But, one thing about traveling with trains in China is that you cannot purchase tickets all the way to certain places. You purchase a ticket so far, then you get to your destination and then purchase your next tickets. This does not always go smoothly. There can be times where you show up to your destination and go to purchase your next tickets, but there are no tickets available for the next 1-5 days. So, you either get standing tickets or you wait.
So, we went to the train station and got our tickets to Wuhan. It was a 12 hour overnight train, and was about the halfway point to Chongqing. We were going to have to wait to get tickets to Chongqing after we got to Wuhan. We get to Wuhan, get in line only to find out there will be no tickets for 3 days. It was a Friday and our boat reservations were for Sunday night. Doing the math, you can quickly see that we are not in a good place. After waiting for 3 days, we would then have another 15 or so hours of traveling on the train before we would get there. Making it about 4 days until we get to Chongqing. We talked to a few people around the train station and was told that we could get a bus to Chongqing from Wuhan. We decided that we would check it out. Lucky for us they had tickets leaving in a few hours and it was going to be much cheaper then a train. So, we got the tickets. And we were told that the bus was a bus with beds on it. I have never heard of a bus with beds on it but was super excited about getting to ride on a bus with beds. In my mind, it was the greatest idea ever. Or at least I thought it would be...
Next up: The bus ride
3 days ago