FolkestoneJack's Tracks


Posted in China, Gongwusu by folkestonejack on December 12, 2009

Arrived in Wuhai and boarded a chartered public bus to Gongwusu, a dusty coal mining town with dirt roads and a mixture of mud shacks/low brick houses. The mine railway here is a small operation these days, using two JS class locomotives in the winter and SY class locomotives in the summer. On our visit we saw two JS class locomotives in steam at the loco servicing point, the washery and on a short run to/from the mine.

The locals couldn’t have been friendlier, even recommending a local noodle bar that we should try. It may not have looked too promising on the outside but I have long since learnt that the best meals come from the most surprising places in China. The menu was simple – fried noodles or noodle soup. All of it was freshly made on the spot – indeed, we could see a dough ball being shaved to create the noodles. I opted for fried noodles and they were truly superb.

We attracted more attention here than perhaps anywhere else we had been. Understandable really, given that Gongwusu  was a small town well off the beaten track which had only ever been visited by a handful of westerners. Locals stopped in the street and stood for minutes watching us, amused at the strange sight we made.

Unfortunately, we had attracted a little bit too much attention – a police car pulled up and two baffled local policeman got out, clearly convinced that we must be up to no good. I gather this was a not uncommon occurence years ago but quite unusual these days.  The arguments became quite protracted with the policemen re-positioning their car to block us in. Eventually, our guide managed to persuade the police that we were just (slightly bonkers) tourists and we could make our escape…

Now, with a flight to make we had a mad dash to Yinchuan airport. This was somewhat complicated by the bus driver’s admission that he had no idea where the airport was… a cue for much exasperation! In the end we made it in time and a few hours later found ourselves back in Beijing.

More photos from Gongwusu Coal Railway