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Published: June 14th 2010
Heading out from our friends Martin and Staci’s place at 6:30 am we attempted to hail a cab. They live a good ¼ of a mile from any major road. Much different than our place as we simply walk out our front gate and have a plethora of transportation options. It was a little rainy but we were in high spirits. No work until September and a nice three week holiday in Vietnam sort of puts you in a good mood. We waited patiently to try and get a cab as dozens had passed as they were full. Though we were a mere ten minutes drive to the airport it was an industrial and factory area in which most did not flag down cabs. One did pull over despite the fact there was a passenger in the back seat. I told the cab driver that we wanted to go to the fei ji chan (airport) and he ordered the man in the back to the front seat. The cab’s meter as usual was rigged to hijack its passengers. It showed 25 kuai for the journey and we paid 10. No arguments as I had told the driver in Chinese that his meter
was broken. There was no argument.
The flight to Nanning was not very long at all. We arrived to the airport and took a bus that stopped near the train station. Driving through town we felt we were going to have little to do for the eight or so our hour lay over. We purchased our train tickets with plenty of time to spare. It was cheaper than expected so we were happy. We wandered the streets and saw a bunch of hotels near the Train Station and Bus Terminal that rented rooms by 3 hours increments. Elyse wanted to get a room so that we could shower and relax prior to the train ride. I was a little skeptical as I thought these rooms were solely for the purposes of, well, not good things. Elyse said we should check it out to see if my assumptions were true or not. To our relief the hotel was full of families with their kids that simply were waiting on their trains. We got some much needed showers and rest.
This was the first time we took a soft sleeper car anywhere. Hard sleepers are not really hard but they
house six beds and do not have a closing door. I believe they are called hard sleepers simply because they are hard to sleep with all the damn noise. There is usually some kid running a muck at an un-godly hour, or the fat dude three compartments down that snores like a chain saw. The soft sleepers have four beds and are pretty quite. We shared our compartment with an older Japanese gentleman by the name of Ichiro. This naturally led to a conversation about the baseball player Ichiro. He was also learning Chinese and I thought that was pretty cool for some one his age. He seemed to be well traveled and also lived in San Francisco for 10 years back in the 70’s.
It was about 10 pm when we decided it was time to get some shut eye. At midnight we would be woken up by the Chinese departure customs agents. We had to drag all of our stuff off the train and wait close to 60 minutes before we could get back on the train. China has got to be one of the most inefficient governments in the world. It could have something to do with the fact that they all seem to be promoted at the exact same time which leaves the new employees with no instructions or clue as to how things should work. By the time they figure it out and resemble anything close to efficient its clearly time they are promoted. We were asleep for a little over an hour before we were awaken at the Vietnam border just about 2 am, yet we were back on the train and asleep in about 25 minutes.
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