The Train station was teeming with people and the announcing speaker was blaring. We found our lounge quickly thanks to a great site called “The Man in Seat Sixty-One”. It helped David buy our tickets, the other day, and figure out how to read them. Otherwise we’d have had no idea. He writes about train travel in all countries, not just China, so it should be handy for the whole trip.
In Japan, people would look at our family and quickly look away if they saw me looking at them unless they were kids, of course. But, in China, people stare and stare and talk to each other about us and walk right up to us like we’re in a zoo. It can be really funny or really tiring depending on your mood.
I don’t want to make it sound like anyone is mean spirited because they aren’t at all. Everyone is either openly curious and, or smiling. Two older teenage boys just wanted to stand near Bereket and smile down at him while he played Sudoku, for some reason. They just thought he was really cool. I think they wanted a photo but just couldn’t bring themselves to ask (if I understood the mini-argument that one had with his mum). My favourite encounter was while walking home the evening after the River Cruise. We turned a corner and a little girl, around 6 or 7, saw the twins and was absolutely delighted. She beamed at us and yelled Hi and waved and waved as her dad drove her away on the back of his scooter. I can still picture her smiling face. She was adorable.
At one point, E and B wanted to leave and eat at KFC so we headed over there. After they ordered BLT Subway sandwiches, the other day, and the bacon was raw, but heated (and no, grandparents, they didn’t eat them), we didn’t know about another western fast food. But it was great and the kids loved it.
One good thing about a day of waiting is that I got to add another T-shirt to my mental list of odd English t-shirts that people wear. I don’t think the fifty-something woman would really want to wear a shirt that says “Menstrual Park, New York, NY, USA”, if she actually knew what it meant, but what do I know? It is now my personal favourite, usurping the little boy in Nara wearing a tee that said, “I am mischievous funky”. There are lots of shirt sayings that are grammatically incorrect (ie. “Work means earn lots of money” – seen today) or, found especially in Japan, adults wearing really simple, sunny statements like “Today is a happy day” or “Wear a smile today”. (There might be nothing weird with that last group, it just might be that I’m too cynical.) Or, even odder, some people just have one or two words on their shirt and it will be words like “Into” or “In case”. These are the strange things my mind finds interesting when I don't have a classroom to occupy it.
I’m now writing this in our sleeper car. It has four beds, a little table with a carafe, garbage can, bedding and a slot for your baggage. David can actually stretch out on this bed. Take that Amtrak! You bring your own food. We watched what others were bringing, and have instant noodle containers (hence the carafe for hot water to add), cookies, bananas and oranges. You also are told to bring your own toilet paper...
Well, the battery is running low on the computer and there are no plug ins on this train. I will stop writing and pick up tomorrow in Xian. Here are some photos from our Sleeper car.
The driver was listening to a very emphatic radio show where the man was yelling and speaking angrily in Mandarin. I am not exaggerating when I say that, at times, he actually growled. It was awesome. It was seriously over the top and I had to fight the giggles especially when David whispered that he was probably only telling the weather. I wish I knew what he was saying but the driver was taking it very seriously and had it up really loudly so I didn’t think I could ask. The only word I thought I could understand was ‘Mao’.
We encountered our first accident and, thankfully, we weren't in it. A car hit a bus. There was lots of shouting and arm movements. No one was admitting any fault. It doesn't seem like there are any traffic rules to follow so it would be difficult to assign any blame, I imagine.
The Hostel is great. We are going to walk around the neighbourhood a bit today because tomorrow we will be picked up, bright and early, for a day tour of the Terracotta Warriors and the Goose Pagoda before driving us back to the Train Station.
It'll be a couple of days before we blog again as we are onto an overnight train trip to Beijing tomorrow. We have a two day "No shopping stops" tour there to see all the highlights and walk the Great Wall which David has been looking forward to for months. It has always been a dream of his to see the Great Wall.