Trip Start Jun 08, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of China  ,
Saturday, June 18, 2005

This country certainly appears to posses an ancient romantic aire about it, the kind of land where you expect a dragon to appear from the sepia mist (smog!)or serpents to be crawling in droves beneath the undergrowth.

I arrived this morning in Chongquing, about 40hours train trip from Hong Kong. The trip was slightly challenging to begin with, arriving in Guangzhou at about 7pm on a particularly rainy night I was greeted by about 2-3000 Chinese (me being the only white person)in the train station. Trying to buy a train ticket to take me through to Chongquing proved challenging - no English spoken, no English words, just those strange characters that they use to get by with. Somehow I managed to get myself a ticket and get onto the train though - it's all abit of a blur though. For the first time in my life I was overwhelmed with abit of culture shock and slipped into survival mode. My pack certainly wasn't helping things either - too heavy for me to get up off the ground and onto my back without aide. I am seriously going to have to chuck some stuff out - I'm running the risk of either dying of heat exhaustion or getting pushed over and never being able to get up again!

The train trip was uneventful, I had a hard sleeper - in each cell (about 2.5m wide by 3m high) they sleep 6 people. I had the top bunk - fairly costrophobic, but it's fine. The train was packed with people, there was even a pet rabbit (white albino) in our cabin - it was kind of cute. I spent most of the trip watching the panorama of China unfold before my eyes and chatted with the others on the train (as best I could). A photo of my nephew Nicholas, the bald headed 6 month old, was of great interest to all of the Chinese and seemed to initiate a lot of banter.

Arriving in Chongquing was somewhat better than what I thought it would be, maybe because now I'm prepared to expect the crowds, expecting to be stared at and expecting not to understand anything! I made it to a hostel without a problem and quickly settling in to life in China.

I'm off onto the Yangzi river tomorrow - looking forward to that!
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