Thursday, April 7, 2011

Shaanxi Province

I write to you now with stinging and bloody knees, an empty wallet, a full belly and a thirst for adventured well and truly quenched. I have just come back home to Shanghai after an action-packed trip to Shaanxi province in central China. 

The capital city (as you can hopefully see) is Xi'an - and it was to this city which we took a 15 hour train ride. Most people take the 'sleeper train' on such overnight trips, but being students with budgets to match, we decided the 200RMB-cheaper-tickets must be worth the money. The difference is that for the normal price you get a bed and for half the price you get a seat. 

Mmm shrimpy...
Mmm clean fingers...
Well, I don't know what we were thinking, but the results of our frugality were certainly not worth it. 

It was incredibly awkward and exhausting and smelly and the novelty of the experience wore off quite quickly when we realised the toilets didn't work. To make matters worse, we were leaving on the first day of a 3-day public holiday weekend, and so every citizen-of-China-and-their-dog were on trains going out to the countryside to visit relatives. What this meant, was that the train company also sold 'standing tickets'. 
The only way to deal with such minimisation
of personal space - we begin to drink...

Such tickets are imaginary and do not genuinely exist - and neither does the room for these extra passengers. To say cramped is a colossal understatement. Hundreds of people were squished into the carriages - filling up the aisles and huddling on the floor in groups at the entrance and exit areas.

The lights were never turned off, the ventilation was never turned on, the babies never stopped crying, and the only possible food option was shrimp instant noodles. Also, it is appropriate by Chinese standard to smoke on the train and simply drop your butt on the floor. Looking to the floor at the mass of butts, I also noticed that it must have been commonplace to spit in the train, too. This was probably the closest to hell I had ever been.

So 15 hours later we got to Xi'an and it was raining and freezing and we were hungry and grumpy and sore. Grabbed ourselves some breakfast and began the four hour bus ride to the town of Hua Shan.

No-one smoked on the bus, it was heated, the seats were soft and you didn't have to worry about being spat on. Needless to say, we all fell asleep instantaneously.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...