I'm forming a bad habit of making it just in time for planes, trains and buses. It reminds me of Scott just making it in time for the ferry to Tasmania many years ago. This time I'm riding the hard sleeper, which is cheaper, has 6 bunks instead of 4, lacks a door to the corridor where there are fold-down hard seats paired around little tables, smoking instead of air-con, and a great opportunity to mix with the locals.
The train changed motion directions several times throughout the journey. This confused the hell out of me as to where we could actually be at any given time. Around midnight we must have reached a major station because a lot of people got off. Thankfully the ticket masteress woke me up before Xi'an, in good time to say
Zaijianto a travel companion.
I have no idea about 99% of what this 19 year old girl from Zigong (near Chengdu in Sichuan province) was on about. I did appreciate her patience and insistance with crash-coursing me through some ridiculously fundamental Mandarin. I felt like a total language moron for hours. I managed to find out that she'd left Beijing and was taking the train home because her boyfriend of 2 years got together with another woman.
I have a very long way to go with this tonal language... That's okay though. I'm sure to have plenty more opportunities to practice.