After accidentally locking my Airbnb host out her own flat (and being woken up by her frantic bangs on the door at 2am – sorry Kiki!), I had a much needed lie-in and then took the subway to the nearby city of Foshan (the first city-to-city subway – change to the GuanFo line at Xijang on Line 1) which is absolutely covered in various parks and lakes. I wandered round the city and then found myself in Zhongshan Park where, amongst other things, I was serenaded to by a Chinese opera singer. I had to let her down gently as my visa only lasts 30 days. It would never have worked out.
On my third and final day in the city, I headed to Baiyunshan, a gigantic park in the middle of the city. For 5 yuan you get access to this huge green space. My intention was to have a relaxed, chilled out day in anticipation of relentless hiking over the following few days. Apparently that wasn’t to be as it wasn’t the tranquil, laid-back park I was expecting. Instead, it was steep hills and trails aplenty. It was a bit of a shock to the system but a welcome rehearsal for the days to come. People were also very friendly, greeting you with a cheery hello as they walked past. When I reached the peak of Moxing Mountain (which is definitely worth the extra 5 yuan to climb up and get a view of the city), I was confused by a girl trying to put her arm round me without me noticing. When I (obviously) did notice, it turned out her friend was trying to get a photo of us together. I don’t know if it was intentional to have me staring absent-mindedly staring into distance, but instead she got my gorky, cheesy grin. Of course, the floodgates then opened and every man and his dog wanted a photo. At least 4 other people queued to get a snap with me. God only knows why.
My odd day definitely didn’t end there. With some time to kill before my train, I headed for a relaxing drink at Starbucks after my intense hike. Of course, in true Jack style, I ended up pretty much throwing my hot chocolate over the man next to me. Naturally, he was wearing cream-coloured trousers, so the brown stuff running down his legs was somewhat pronounced. How are you supposed to react when you’ve just dropped your drink over a complete stranger?! I started by picking up a napkin and trying to get some of it off, before deciding that he was probably perfectly capable of running his own legs down. So then I just felt the need to stand there and watch him helpless rub brown stuff off himself. I only just managed to resist the urge to laugh at how I had managed to, yet again, get myself into this sort of situation. I shouldn’t be let out the house, let alone to the other side of the world.
Deciding to flee Guangzhou before I caused any more damage, I headed to the train station. Train stations in China are needlessly over complicated. I’d already booked my tickets to Zhangjiajie online, so was told to head to counters 9 or 10 to collect them. You just need your booking reference and passport. The ticket collection is at the far end of the station. Just head towards McDonalds and you should see signs for tickets. Big though it is, Guangzhou station doesn’t have a lot in the way of amenities so it was a long wait with little to do before I was finally able to board (about half an hour before). Perching myself on my upper berth with my surprisingly thick blanket, I felt the wanderlust pumping through my veins. Sleeper trains epitomise travel and, as it turned out, the chugging of the train was just the beginning of the roller coaster adventure to come…