Pool. Aubergine. Cong caphe. Last fried rice and a beer at the Beer Corner.
And then the train to Nanning at 9.20pm on 4 berth sleeper shared with 3 nice young Chinese.
Been woken up twice: at 1am for the vietnamese border. All out for baggage and passport check. Very old station structure, seems I’ve been taken by the tardis back into the 60s.
Same thing at 3am for the Chinese border.
Well the contrast between the 2 countries is striking. Very neat, swift and organised. CCTV everywhere. Young military men in perfect symmetrical pose. All very quick and pleasant. No smiles but you can read though that.
06/08 GOOD MORNING CHINA
There is something about sleeping in a train. Being cradled by the movement and the soft and regular noise of the tracks and the train horn. I say soft because I’m half deaf. Not sure others will appreciate the noise.
Just saw 2 on a scooter of which one was holding a sun umbrella.
At the Marriott Hotel: Pool. A proper one. 10laps.
Food: finally tried the famous marinated cucumber!
Of course they took me to the wrong station. Thank god for my Swiss background I asked for a cab over 1H prior.
10 hours now on the train to Zhengzhou.
Speed train traveling at 305km/h.
Just like the Sydney-Canberra.
I am taken aback how nice people are. I’m getting helped as soon as they can see I’m puzzled or lost. A random guy helped to confirm my track. 2 people cleared their overhead luggage space to make room for my luggage.
I also met a lovely lady who gave me a lolly and a sweet purple potato to eat. It was delicious. Need to get some for the longer trips.
The language barrier is high. I have a useless Chinese translator app that only translates one word at the time.
The landscape is changing form lush green to hills and mountain. The combination of rice fields, hills and mountains in the background looks all too familiar.
Giu Lin seems a nice place. Not so much Yongzhou. Some stations are just grand like Wuhan.
Note: Factories roofs are all painted in blue.
I am left with some good choices of nuts at the restaurant carriage, as it’s the only food without meat. A shame I could have gone for the “stupid chicken” otherwise.
Last station before Zhengzhou a guy just missed the closing door and couldn’t exit the train on time. Next station (Zhengzhou) is only 150km further. He’ll probably be back on time for dinner anyway. I looked at him with a “are u ok” look. He smiled at me and nodded. Compassion has no language barriers.
Smooth change of train at Zhengzhou except I went down instead of up and then had to climb 35268 stairs with my 20kg on the back. Who needs a gym.
Same type of high speed train just witnessed the seats swivel to change their direction. Everybody up and participate please.
Arrived at Xi’an where the hostel owner strongly advised against taking a cab. So here I am cruising the subway to the other part of town. Meticulously following the directions given to me I arrived in front of a flat door with a piece of hand written paper stuck on it confirming that this is the Twin City Hostel. Inside, 2 nice girls show me my room (one of this 3 BR flat) and the bathroom. Room is nice an with AC so can’t complain, besides I’m really tired.
or the 10 hours I made of it.
People are decidedly more rough here than in Nanning. They push you out of their way, jump queues, and taking the subway or the bus is quite entertaining: watching people literally fighting for a seat.
The time to fail to get a ticket to Beijing (cash only. Really), when I turned to queue for the Terracotta Warriors bus there was a line of thousands of people so long they had to wind around the square. I suspect some have been queuing here since last year judging by the size and the frequency of the bus.
And this is where it occurred to me that I don’t fee like I want to be here at all. I looked around. Took a bus back to the hostel. And here I am at 2pm on the speed train to Beijing. Fuckit.