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Published: April 5th 2013
We board a little local taxi/bus to get us to the underground train that will get us to the sleeper train that will eventually get us to Yanshuo.
When we arrive at the station there's lots lugging our cases up and down escalators in what looks like a shopping mall before finally getting to the ticket place. Only we don't get tickets, we get what look like poker chips! The underground is very similar to most except that it has a glass wall barrier between the platform and the train track which has sliding openings that miraculously coincide with the underground trains opening doors. We line up on our yellow arrows and when the train comes struggle on with all our big bags.
Inside the underground train there are maps showing where we are up to with little red flashing lights on the stations we pull in to. There is also a funny set of 'do not' pictures similar to those we have in swimming pools in the UK - you know the 'no dive bombing' ones? Well here on the Chinese underground you are not allowed to CHASE, LIE DOWN, EAT or DRINK (oops - already broke that
rule!), SPIT or LITTER, HANG off things or CLIMB!
Once we arrived at the sleeper train station we found ourselves part of a massive throng of people all waiting to board the sleeper trains that were departing at different times. Dennis had warned us that we would be stared at quite a bit while in China as many people still haven't ever seen Westerners in the flesh. And he was right. It was funny to catch people staring at you then smile and laugh when they realised they had been caught looking when we smiled and waved back.
Eventually it was time to board our train and after yet more up and down escalators and going through subways, dragging or carrying our big cases, (I love my wheelie rucksack), we made it to our assigned carriage. Sleeper trains in China are very like those I'd been on in India and Vietnam. 6 to a berth, 3 bunks each side, and open to the corridor. The bottom bunks have more space and are therefore more expensive, the middle has a little less space and is a little cheaper and finally the top bunk, involving a bit of a climb,
has hardly any space and is therefore the cheapest of all. I lucked out with a bottom bunk.
An investigation of the toilet facilities revealed a grotty, squat style affair with a hole open to the track. They did however provide toilet paper - whoooo!
We play a game of cheat to pass the time, only our Ozzie/Kiwi crew calls it the much better titled 'BULLSHIT!'. Then it's off to the dining car to tuck into - guess what? Noodles and CABBAGE! I also had some omlette for variety only I had to pick out the pieces of ham. All is going well until disaster - part of one of my back teeth breaks off! It felt like half my tooth but on closer inspection was only about a quarter. Fortunuately it didn't hurt much so I probably wouldn't need to see a dentist but how typical - I have this tooth filled for about 10 to 15 years and when does it decide to give way? The two weeks I travel half way across the world to China!! I seem to be cursed on the health front when I go travelling - I'm kind of getting to
expect something to happen to me whenever I go away. Maybe my investigation into medical facilities around the world will continue tomorrow! The travel insurance companies will start putting me on a hot list and start charging me huge premiums at this rate.
My clock was showing 9.30pm but my body clock was saying 2.30pm - how appropriate - tooth hurty! Good night x
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