China – On A Train Again

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Some street in Xi’an

Friday evening at a train station in China is like hell breaking loose. While I sit on my backpack in the overcrowded waiting room, trying to ignore the elbow and butt of the woman standing next to me,  sticking in my neck, I finally witness one of those gross things people promised me to see here: A woman is letting her toddler-kid pee (and maybe poo?) on a plastic bag. On the ground. In the waiting hall. Because going to the toilet would probably be too much of a hustle. Also, maybe 15% actually ends up on the plastic bag instead of next to it, on the ground. As usual, except for me, no one gives a fuck.

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I HEART books!

The train is just like the Russian trains, only louder. And the 5th and 6th bunk bed are not opposite of the 4-bed-compartment, but above them. Luckily, I got the lowest one, so no sports for me today. Everyone is listening to their shit on their phones, music, games, movies, of course without headphones, or yells at each other. When the conductor comes by (or whatever the role of those people selling stuff is), it is announced from the moment he enters the car until he leaves again, yelling loudly probably to beat the noise the toys  make, which he is demonstrating proudly. I wonder if the sheets on the beds and blankets are clean, but I guess I’ll just have to trust on that. 28 hours to go to Guilin. Maybe I’ll just sleep intensely.

*********

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Golden dough in Muslim Quarter

It turns out that also the comfort of the beds and the overall hygiene is worse than on the Russian train. The (squatting) toilet has not even a sink, so the only option to wash yourself is in the sink-room next door, which has no door, and everyone passing by (or standing opposite of it, smoking) can watch you. For now, I’ll abstain from a wash, and delay it to when I arrive in my hostel. The night was more or less horrible; just when I had fallen asleep, maybe 200 more people entered my wagon, searching loudly for their beds, pointing their torches into my face and climbing up and down with the help of my bed. Earplugs and sleep mask didn’t really help. But anyways I was waking up every hour because one of my body parts went all numb from the hard mattress. Even my ear once, from the hard pillow – I didn’t know that this is possible. I have camped on the ground several times, and it was less painful…

Terracotta horses

Terracotta horses

I check the other options for the train next week to Beijing, maybe I can change something to not be on a train like this again. But it seems as if the only alternative would be to book a high speed train, which only goes during the day (so I lose a day of sightseeing) and costs three times as much.

Well, another night on such a train it is, then. But I will book a hostel in Beijing, even though I am there for the day only, so that I can have a shower and leave my stuff somewhere between my 20 hours trip from Guilin and my 30 hours trip home. This has become a pattern now, since I am on my own – I change plans constantly, whenever I get a new idea or inspired by people I meet. It’s very convenient I only have to discuss the options with myself. We almost always agree with each other.

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Some dude chillin’ in front of Mount Hua

For example, Anthony has told me that he met some Dutch girls who recommended to stay over night at the Longsheng rice terraces – so I booked a hostel there. The German girl told me I should rather be longer in Yangshuo than in Guilin, so I also rearranged my schedule for Guilin and will only sleep there now and take buses and trains from there, but won’t spend much time in the city itself.

Though these are pros for traveling alone, being on a train alone is definitely not one of them. It is quite boring, and thus very long, to sit on a train all by yourself, without anyone around to talk to or who even understands you. In the compartment next “door”, a kid is practicing how to pronounce English letters. Maybe I should go join him.

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