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Published: April 2nd 2019
R: By the time we crossed the border it was about 1am (Chinese time). I set an alarm on my phone as the train passed along the route of the great wall of China at around 7am just after stopping at Datong. Now, having got used to the slow pace of life on the train, and being fairly tired from the previous weeks activities - I didn't make the alarm. By the time I had woken up, got up and out, and escaped the compartment, the wall was in the distance and could only just be seen through the dirty train windows. (This was a Chinese train remember, and I don't think it gets cleaned in Moscow so it has been nearly 2 weeks since its last wash!). I did manage to see glimpses of it though and made a mental note to come back here one day. Meanwhile Richard and Vera were not awake yet so I wondered about the train admiring the sunrise and the new scenery around us.
The biggest difference was that the land was all being farmed and there were people tending the fields. This was totally different to the nomadic lifestyle of Mongolia. Most
of the land was sandwiched into steep river valleys and there were people farming up the steep sides as well. There was also concrete and grand building projects everywhere - power stations, bridges, tunnels, rail lines - it felt so built up relative to what we had been seeing since we left Moscow. It felt like this was going too be hard to get used to again.
The Chinese carriage attendants had wondered around and given us free vouchers for lunch with a timed sitting on them to use in the dining car. Ours was something ridiculous like 10:00-11:00am so we headed down there. Due to the fact that everyone in 2nd or 1st class got given these tokens there was no where to sit so we ended up sharing a table with some Dutch people and we compared notes and experiences on the journey so far which was a nice way to end the trip. There wasn't a choice on the menu - but I had a delicious pork and pineapple dish which was served with chopsticks only - you could ask for Western style if you wanted.
This leg of the journey we shared almost entirely
with Vera, our German tax inspector friend. The conversation turned quickly to Brexit - Vera was keen to hear why we decided to collectively shoot ourselves in the foot. She was quite pleased to hear that we weren't anti-Europe and that there was lots of us who weren't. She asked us what we thought might happen, and we said we had no idea. That turned out to be the right answer... Knowing that I spoke German, she chose to speak English all the time Richard was present, but as soon as he left the cabin for just a small moment - she went back into German - looks like the German was getting a bigger outing than expected on this trip. It was time to pack up - we were arriving in Beijing. We arrived on time, and disembarked at Beijing Railway Station bang on time at around 11:40am, 7621km and 8 time zones after getting on.
So that was a short entry, but our speed tourism of Beijing follows...
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