Friday, April 21, 2006

choo-chooing the distance

The Ludao Binguan is coping well with the masses. After a needed shower, the news from the hotel travel agent is that I can take a soft-sleeper, but tomorrow night. I'm not surprised - a typical marketing tactic to eke one more night's tariff; also the staff are so occupied fielding stupid questions from dumb-arse tourists, they haven't much time for any ticketing service - in spite of their commission!

Given Xi'an has 1 of China's top 3 attractions, I can understand why the 7 Sages HI hostel is left out of guidebooks. A very hospitable respite from the riff-raff, and so cheap - in fact cheaper than the price listed on their flyer given to me from a hostel mate in Shanghai.

all aboard the night train20th April: I slept like a log and was a little dubious that I was the only person looking for breakfast at 9am. A cool, drizzly day spent eating and listening to some good music in the courtyard / restaurant / cafe / bar of the 7 Sages hostel.

eating choo-choo food
eating choo-choo food,
originally uploaded by vfowler.
The day shift of hair-dressers / masseuses / prostitutes have shut their doors already as I walked to the station. My bag was X-ray scanned once again. Luckily there are mini-supermarkets inside the station. Snickers, Kit-Kat + coffee, bananas and water are the better purchases. Aboard the train an affectionate married couple and Mister Mobile Phone share compartment #7 with me.

part of 52,000 km of railway...21st April: Amazing to that back home I think of 2-minute and cup noodles as a waste of effort. Today at least, they formed my staple food! And why is it rude to slurp soups and noodles in our culture?

At any given time over 10 million Chinese are travelling on 52,000 kilometres of railway lines. From Xi'an to Kunming it's only 1,942 kilometres.

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