Beijing or bust….

31 May

So, after the tranquillity of the zoo, it’s time to get on the train again. Now, I’m actually a day late travelling to Beijing, simply because I couldn’t get a seat on the overnight train. And I can’t imagine a 12 hour overnight train trip standing up. It’s not going to be comfy, though – it’s back on the non reclining really hard seats.

I’ve been in a Tokyo rush hour… and it’s tame compared to the chaos on this train. It’s impossible to move against the flow of massed humanity that is a Chinese train boarding. Once we have people seated… then the rest of the rank and file find a space on the floor – on little folding seats, on the sink, on the waste bins, anywhere that you can find a little space. Now, I don’t take up much space now.. and the Chinese, as a nation, are fairly compact too. So why, why, why, have I ended up on a seat next to the Chinese equivalent of Jonah Lomu?

(By the way, sorry about the lack of pictures… I left my camera in my bag and I would have been crawling over the denizens of the carriage to get to it)

So, an interrupted night’s sleep, falling asleep to the sounds of Peter Gabriel (I’m using my MP3 player on ‘Album of the Day’ setting – although it gets confused when getting to ‘Have a Nice Day’ and crushes Bon Jovi and Roxette together in a confusion of a Swedish ‘Blondie meets Joni Mitchell’ and good old New Jersey blue collar rock and roll. I wake, reluctantly, but with a sore neck and even more uncomfortably numb backside, to the train soaring through a flat landscape with the occasional mountain rising in the distance, barely visible through the smog. We coast through the spectral beginnings of a new railway station, past a skyscraper farm (they build them a dozen at a time out here).

The track runs for ages past an immense yet spookily empty cemetery with piles of earth with cairns on top, wrapped in red ribbon. There are the now familiar regimented rice fields and flat pack construction villages, tidy orchards stretching from horizon to horizon. Eventually my MP3 player runs out of battery… and then we turn up in Beijing… the exit from the train is as crazy as getting on, so I simply wait until the chaos has faded.

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Again, the metro makes it easy, and I find my hotel, ready to collapse…on the upside, things are going well for me – they have upgraded me from an 8 bed dorm to a five bed dorm, where I am in a two bed room on my own – which basically means I have my own room for $4 a night. Bargain….although I am not sure how to deal with the instructions on the wall….

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I’ll think about those tomorrow….zzzzzzzzzzzzz

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