Trains, Brains and Rains

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

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Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Train tickets - the bane of my life it seems. We walked back and forth through new Lijiang among the friendly Naxi people searching for the ticket office. What chance do we have of finding it if the hostel lady also apparently doesn't know where it is?
On a hunch, we take a side street and find the queues, and the queue jumpers. We queued, proud of our English roots, not disturbing the order as one after another people try and jump to get sent back by the queue controller (he had a uniform and everything). I like this guy, he is no-nonsense - could easily be British, although I expect he is more than happy being Chinese.
We get to the front and with our note from the hostel lady and my pidgeon mandarin we find that we can get to our next destination, Kunming, but only on a hard seat 7 hour journey - everything else is booked. We book it, seeing no viable alternative but this is merely meant to be a link city for the 17 hour train ride to Guilin. Sadly, this is fully booked and for the days either side of the one we want - Guilin has been lost to the schedule. Alternatively we book several nights in Kunming and sort a cheap earlier flight to Hong Kong, 2 days earlier than planned. Everyone we have spoken to suggests you need more time in Hong Kong than less, and so this is what we have opted for. It's a real shame to have lost the Karst pinnacles of Guilin, as it was something I was especially looking forward to, but you have to be a little flexible and roll with the punches. As it is our intention to drop by at Halong Bay in Vietnam, hopefully thier own Karst formations will make up for it.

We spend a good couple of hours wandering a lake with terrific crystal water and some big hungry Koi fish, and sit under a tree as rain falls breaking the surface of the tranquil waters. Peace and quiet. A small boy comes running over to us and waves a textbook in my face. "how you say this please?". He points to a picture of a man on a page and I give him the answer he was searching for, slightly bemused. He runs back to his mother, pleased with some new useful words he has picked up repeating it as he strides away "Steee-fen How-Keeng". Nearly there fella. He's a good lad - he'll do well in this world, or end up as a tour guide or student tea scammer (see Shanghai).
Good day, pleasant place. We watch a dodgy copy of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull as Mijou finds it amusing to fight with my socks. I lift my feet higher to get them out of her reach but she just ends up hanging from my toes by her teeth - swinging from side to side thinking this is a new part of the game. Determined little beast. Eventually she tires and prefers to attack a small teddy bear and then my hand, pushing her away is apparently a sign of "please chew my sock again".
I realise that me saying no to her is similar to going "goo goo goo gooo goo, or bla bla bla bla bla" which sounds like playful noises as she only responds to Mandarin - clever dog.

We become more adept with chopsticks (still can't wolf down at speed like with a knife and fork, but I'm kinda starting to think that is the point of chopsticks - they are a mechanism to make sure you take the right amount of time to eat your food, while giving you ample oppourtunity to play and make mess. They also allow you to reach food just out of your reach, which is a very useful implement.

I finally get round to reading some more Bourne Identity - that man had no problem with foreign languages and could blend in like a chamelon. I realise in comparison  that I blend in like a baby elephant at a Lions tea party (obscure I know, but it's what came into my head straight away). Kate is still reading some dodgy drama-erotic-zombie book and she is having to delete some of the 2000 books she against my advice uploaded onto her kindle as it is running dramatically slow. She probably only needs 4 books to keep her busy for the next 5 months, and so she will just have to choose wisely.
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