31.07.2010 - 31.07.2010
7am Alarm. These early mornings seem to be getting easier, maybe its because we’ve not had a drink of alcohol in the last 10 days. We’ve been advised not to drink for 2 months before going to high altitude and soon we’ll be in Tibet at over 5000 metres above sea level. It’s something to do with dying from altitude sickness or something, but its sounds serious so we’re off the grog.
By 1am we’d already done the bus to Xiamen train station and the first bullet train of the day to Fuzhou. Now we were boarding the second bullet train to Shanghai.
After surviving the usual rugby scrum of flying bags, kids and pots of noodles fighting to get on the train, we found a much more civilised and comfortable cabin, set out like an aeroplane. There was plenty of legroom. I didn’t have anyone’s fungal feet touching me and we couldn’t even smell the toilets. On paper the bullet train’s top speed is 300km/h but the in-cabin speed indicator showed that we were whipping along at a steady 154Km/h.
As we sat back and relaxed, hand in hand, my mind started to analyse things, as it tends to do sometimes. The Business voice in my brain often tells me that travelling is damaging my career; the adventure voice tells me I hate my career and we should be more extreme on our travels, and the sensible voice talks about settling down and growing up. As the mental battle continued something hit me like a kipper in the face… we we’re living the dream, speeding through china on a bullet train on our way to Shanghai. The conclusion to my analysis - I love our life… what will be, will be.
We knew the train tickets to Chengdu were going to be a problem, so we decided to buy them as soon as we got off the train in Shanghai. An hour later we found ourselves at the ‘other’ train station in Shanghai 10Km north of the one we’d arrived at, and the only place you can buy tickets to Chengdu.
After fighting the queue for half an hour, bags on back, we finally won our position in front of the scary looking ticket lady. We handed her a list of six different train numbers and five alternative dates we could travel on.
“No!” she said, throwing the list back at us.
“When is the next train to Chengdu?”
“All full” she barked
“When is the next available?”
“Never!” she barked again.
“Very helpful,” in my most patronising voice, “there are six trains a day, can you get us on one?
She huffed and rolled her eyes, “August 4. Standing only.”
“Standing? It’s 35 hours!”
“Yes. You want?”
Decency prevents me from typing what Sarah said next, but we walked away without tickets. I looked over my shoulder just in time to see the ticket woman throwing a list back at the next guy in the queue.
We hauled our bags for another hour before we reached the apartment we’d rented. We collapsed in bed exhausted