Trapped in Jishou

Our carefully laid plans to visit the ancient UNESCO town of Fenghuang were thwarted by the worst weather in Southern China for more than 40 years. The nearby city of Jishou was declared a flood disaster zone, with drenched police officers diverting traffic from the sideroads and shopkeepers sploshing about in wellies desperately trying to protect their livelihoods from the onslaught. On its way was Typhoon Rammasun, which had already slammed into the Philippines and was due to hit the province at any moment.

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It was here that we found ourselves, wading in flip flops through rising torrents of water in rain so loud we had to shout to be heard. We decided it might be wise to get a brolly at this point and after some careful thought, chose one which went rusty within an hour and felt as if it were made of lead. Despite being the heaviest object in our possession and leaving streaky orange stains on all our clothes, the umbrella has remained with us. Even when El has tried very carefully to lose it, it has always found its way home.

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With Fenghuang now submerged under 5ft of water and no transport going in or out, we settled on a trip to the nearby village of Dehang, less famous but arguably even more beautiful. We headed to the bus station, hoping to catch the last ride out but were told to hang tight until the morning. No one was leaving Jishou tonight. We were trapped.

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There was nothing for it but to check in to the nearest hotel. Unfortunately this happened to be the Jisho Railway Hotel where we were greeted warmly by a family of cockroaches. Neither of us is great at squashing small creatures so instead, we placed a glass over the baby (all others were too quick) and enjoyed the sound of it’s tinkly little legs all night. Finally, morning came and with it, a sliver of sunshine. We set the cockroach free and headed for Dehang.

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It was only as we were passing reception that we realised we’d booked no accommodation in Dehang and would have to return to Jishou for one more night. The only room available was the one we’d just vacated. With our little friend roaming free.

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