Southern China and Tibet – Day 4: From Yangshuo to Chengdu and Spicy Hotpot!

On Day 4 of our trip, we said goodbye to Yangshuo and travelled to Chengdu (Read about Day 1, Day 2, Day 3). There’s not a lot to say about Day 4, as we spent the best part of the day on a train. So this is going to be a short post about our train trip and a little introduction to Chengdu.

0745: It’s time to say good bye to Yangshuo. It’s an early start from the hotel, as we travel to Guilin to catch our train to Chengdu.

0930: At Guilin station. Guilin is smaller than other stations in China that we’d been to so far, but the process for getting on the train is the same as anywhere else. There is a ticket and ID check at the entrance, and the luggage is screened. The departures board shows the waiting room for each train. About 10 minutes before the the train arrival, you are allowed onto the platform.

0955: On the train. Our seven and a half hour journey to Chengdu begins.

We travelled in the first class carriage. The seats are large and comfortable. There is no entertainment and refreshments are not included in the ticket price. However, there is a menu available from which you can order food, as well a small on board shop that sells snacks.

On board magazine with Menu

On the journey from Guilin to Chengdu, there is not much in the way of scenery. But there are construction projects everywhere and you can see the huge pace of development in China.

Scenery on the way to Chengdu
Scenery on the way to Chengdu
Scenery on the way to Chengdu

1730: Arrival in Chengdu.

Chengdu, is the capital of China’s southwest Sichuan Province. Located in the west of Sichuan Basin and in the center of Chengdu Plain, the city covers a total area of 12.3 thousand square kilometres (4,749 square miles) with a population of over 11 million.

It is famed for its Panda breeding research centre and for its cuisine. Sichuan province has some of the most delicious and spicy food China has to offer.

Chengdu centre
Sichuan Science and Technology Museum and Statue of Mao

1930: We were too tired from the journey to see any sights this evening. So we headed to the nearby vegetarian restaurant at the Wenshu temple.  The restaurant serves buffet lunch and hot pot dinner.

Sign at the entrance to Wenshu temple

Although I had tried hot pot before, this was always outside of China. So I was keen to try it in its home country.

Hotpot is a traditional Chinese meal, where you get your own gas hob and a pot of flavoured stock. Given that we were in Chengdu, we went for the traditional spicy Sichuan stock with added Sichuan pepper.

Chinese Hotpot

And then from the buffet you pick things to cook in the hotpot. Being a vegetarian restaurant, everything in the buffet was vegetarian, and there was a great selection of vegetables, including some great meat equivalents, made from Soya.  There was also noodles, rice and dumplings. Once you have made your selection, you can cook it in the stock.

Selection of things to cook on the hotpot

Hotpot is a completely different way of eating compared to the traditional 3 course meal in Western countries. It is a social meal, as everyone sits around the pot, chatting and enjoying themselves whilst dipping things in and out of the hotpot.

Cooking the hotpot

There was pineapple and water melon for desserts, which was much needed as the spicy Sichuan stock was beginning to take effect. After the food, we headed back to the hotel for an early night, as it would be an early morning start to catch our flight to Tibet.

In my next post, I will tell you more about our journey to Tibet.


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