The 16 hour train journey from Xi’an to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, was relatively comfortable since we managed to procure “soft sleeper” beds for the journey. Despite the fact that we left at 6am and arrived at 10pm, we slept through a lot of the day. Panda in Chengdu
Not that you would have known it, because the following day I was exhausted!
I couldn’t really understand why, after all the sleep I’d had (maybe it was a case of too much?), I spent my first day in Chengdu in a weird, unmotivated, slump.
Tyrhone, on the other hand, was excited to return to the city he had become acquainted with on two previous visits, and to introduce me to the homely Mix Hostel he had come to know and love. Whilst it was a lovely, eclectic little place, the mood I was in drew my focus to the fact that I had to share a bathroom, with like, other people, and I didn’t like it.
In response my last post on Xi’an, the lovely Carmel wrote that I “make everything sound so exciting,” but despite the fact that we have experienced so many amazing adventures in the last six months (SIX MONTHS!!!), I want to share that occasionally, I just lose my enthusiasm for travel.
Chengdu was a prime example of this, and whether it was the lengthy journey to get there, or the fact that I had already heard so much about the place from Tyrhone and other travellers, or the fact that it was my third major city in China, or the humidity, or what, I don’t know, but the urge to explore it was just non-existent for me.
And here’s where travelling in a couple gets a little tricky. See the truth is, I was okay with my lack of motivation. I have come to accept the peaks and troughs of life and travel, for without the lows we don’t have the highs, without the down time, the excitement.
Sometimes if I don’t get the right balance of sleep, food and activity, I just feel off kilter, and frankly, quite blah. I’ve learned that if I fight it, and run myself into the ground, ignoring what my mind and body is telling me, I eventually reach a breaking point that results in a melt down which believe me, is NOT pretty.
I’ve now learned to be kinder to myself when I’m feeling low, and to really try to take care of myself emotionally, because it’s not up to Tyrhone to know how I’m feeling every minute of the day, and it certainly isn’t his job to take care of my spiritual and emotional needs. If I take care of myself, I’m more pleasant to be around, and it’s a win-win for everyone.
But do you think I could communicate this with my partner like I am here?
Umm… not very well.
Compared with Tyrhone’s enthusiasm for the place, my lack of motivation came across as quite negative.
The conversation basically went like this:
“Do you want to go see the pandas?”
“Umm, I don’t know.”
“Do you want to visit the Mao statue?”
“I’ve heard it’s boring.”
“Is it any good?”
“Well, its oily and weird and spicy…”
“So why would I want to eat it? Just to say I did?”
And so on…
I felt like I was disappointing Tyrhone is some way, like I was dissing his city or something. Truth be told, I wished that I was more excited about Chengdu, the ‘dumpling making party’ at the hostel, the pandas, hot-pot, Mao, everything, but I just wasn’t.
I just had no desire to see or do anything, and whilst perhaps I could have faked it, when traveller’s fatigue sets in, the only real cure is eating hamburgers and watching back-to-back episodes of Modern Family.
And after some careful conflict resolution involving excessive use of the phrases I feel that, and I’m sorry if I, we did find a solution to my traveller’s blues.
- I had a long, hot shower in the middle of the day when there was no one else waiting to use them (and I wore my flip-flops!).
- We ate burgers at the hostel for lunch, and spent the afternoon working on our laptops and surfing the net.
- We laughed our asses off at episodes of Modern family, streamed on the Chinese version of you tube, “you ku” (seriously, that’s what it’s called!), and I day dreamed about what my life would have been like if Cam had been my Gay Dad.
And the following morning, after a good night’s sleep, we joined ‘The Panda Tour’ run by the hostel, which was the most perfect balance of “doing something without having to think” that I could have asked for.
They were really, really, cute.
And very lazy, which made me like them more.
We did make dumplings at the “dumpling party” that night.
But I didn’t eat hot-pot.
Perhaps I was being stubborn and didn’t want to do the one thing that everyone tells you to do in Chengdu, or perhaps it was quite sensible considering our eight-hour bus ride the following day, but my culinary adventurousness didn’t extend beyond the hostel kitchen. Thankfully, they churned out good Sichuan cuisine (as well as a damn fine burger!).
Now, we are in a beautiful place in the mountains, called Kangding, about eight hours west of Chengdu on the Sichuan-Tibetan highway. It sits at 2700m and my spirits have lifted along with the altitude (and I’m writing in cheesy cliches so I must be feeling better!).
Maybe I’m just hypoxic, but I’m excited about travel again, and even more so to share my experiences with you soon.