Journeying with the locals

Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
Trip End Jan 04, 2012

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Where I stayed
Soft Sleeper Train - Xi'an to Chengdu
What I did

Flag of China  , Sichuan,
Friday, August 19, 2011

Leading onto my favourite and cheapest day/night of the trip (we spend about 5 quid all day!). We checked out of the hostel at 12 midday (a quiet night was enjoyed for our last night watching Elizabeth on Lotus Macau - good film) and sat in the bar. In the morning once checked out I read some more Bourne Identity (nothing like the film but very enjoyable) and checked emails while Kate did some Suduko and asked me the solutions to her crossword. At 6.30pm we headed to the local station, the air a lot cooler and the walk comfortable.

The station. What a mental place - like Euston with metal detectors, and with people camping outside during a major sporting event - except this was just a thursday - nothing special. We squeezed through the crowds and headed to the soft sleeper and seat lounge where we could be seperated from the 'peasants' - jk. Train due at 8pm - didnt leave until just after 9.

Kate swapped with some old fella on the train as we had tickets in different compartments. She in fact however swapped from one compartment with me not in it, to another compartment - nothing really gained but the little old man was quite pleased. The old fella then helpfully tried to plead Kate's case to someone else in her compartment to swap with me (all in mandarin - the guy just spoke a bit louder to us to try and explain what he was doing) but it wasn't gonna pass as the swap would leave him with an upper bunk which he didn't really want. It didnt bother us either way but the chinese found it funny that we were sleeping in different compartments. Another chinese young guy was brought into the fray to try and explain everything that was going on in english to put us at ease but he seemed to know about 4 words "you ticket..change..ticket...good" - much clearer now the translator has joined the party. We said thanks "xie xie" and said we understood.

Me and kate went our seperate ways, me with a loved up couple and one empty bed (someone was yet to join at a later stop) and Kate with three very friendly(and not in that kind of way), chinese men. The ticket man was a little wierd and kept clicking and saying "Hell-o" everytime he passed, and after he got a response would say "Har Har Har" - strange man, very strange.

We slept well although the train lurched about a lot and woke to 6 hours of having to make time pass. Reading, chatting and watching the scenery very slowly tick by seemed to fill the void. We dared into another bit of chinese cuisine in the form of some super noodles type contraption (don't smirk - all the chinese were eating them too!) and slurped our way through them in traditional style only spilling minor bits of sauce down my overworn clothing.

Although late leaving, we arrived just after lunch in Chengdu perfectly on time totalling a good 16 hour journey. Into the brilliant Chengdu sun, it was hot and a lot less humid which was greatfully recieved.

Soft sleeper travel - very much enjoyed. We are now slowly getting more involved with this travelling malarky and mixing a bit more with people - it's taking a bit of time but we are now officially out of the holiday phase. Bring on the Pandas.
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