Missing- One Dutchman
Trip Start Jul 18, 2006
52Trip End Jul 17, 2007
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The border crossing seemed to take forever, although the bottle of Chinngis Khan vodka that we all saw off sure helped pass the time. The only 'interesting' thing was that the border police made Beth empty her bag for no real reason (knew she was always a shifty one, she was probalbly checking for smuggled Mongolian children). At the Chinese border they moved the train into a big shed and lifted each carriage up on jacks to change the wheels as the gauges are different in the two countries, we tried to watch it all but Chinngis took over and zzzz.......
In the morning the scenery was completely changed again, the evidence of farming was about the most notable thing (unlike Mongolia where if you can't stab it to death it's not real food). At the second stop in China, about 200km outside of Beijing we asked the guard how long we had before the train left 'ten minutes' (that it a quote as well). Upon hearing this Martin rushed off down the subway (later telling us he was after some food despite having more food than the three of us put together). However, after about 1 minute the train, probably as it was running late, pulled off. We sat down and were like 'where's Martin?' After a quick search of the train and a phonecall from the station we soon realised that he hadn't got back on the train!!
After what seemed like an eternity we reached Beijing. The thing that immediately struck you (apart from the humidity) is the lack of English (tell a lie, the map had 'wecome to Beijing and the rest was in Mandarin) and the sheer number of people. We took the subway to the hostel, Andy and Aaron taking Martins bag between them and after leaving Andy at his palace-like hostel we turned up at our slightly-poorer-by-comparison Leo Hostel. After an amazing lunch we moseyed down to the other hostel for some beers with the guys from the train. After and hour or two Martin turned up with one of the oddest tales ever. He'd eaten in the guard's restaurant, posed wearing their hats, met an Australian businessman who took him out for dinner and then rode a rickshaw to the hostel, with the driver in the back as it was 'imperialistic' to have things the other way round! And that's it, the tale of the blessed missing, but now found, Dutchman. Needless to say we're all planning to get off 200km from our destination on the next train.