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Anywhere but the UK Almost three years of saving and hard work since graduation have culminated in this trip. My inspiration has come from reading inumerable atlas's and watching the quality output of the BBC ever since I was a kid. My route has changed in it's scope and length since my orignial ideas. The theme however,remains the same: to get beyond the shores of our tiny island and to experience and explore the world beyond. Oh and to have a good time and not work for six months!

Going Nowhere Fast

CHINA | Thursday, 12 July 2007 | Views [700]

After a brief visit to Xi'an we were preparing to get back on the road.  The plan was to head to Shanghai, however, we made the fatal mistake of leaving the train booking to the last minute.  The next available train wouldn't be leaving for three days: it looked like we were stuck in Xi'an.  After some furious leafing through our guidebook we decided that instead of hanging around we would head south to Yichang.  The plan was to go visit the Three Gorges Dam and then head onto Shanghai.

Booking the ticket ourselves was straightforward enough, despite all the Chinese people jumping the queue.  The next day at 8AM we would be heading off for our second train ride in four days seeing us arriving in Yichang at 11PM!

7AM and we were up and heading straight to the rail station to join the queuing, or not, masses.  Rail stations in China are strange places which resemble airports.  To enter the station it is neccesary to fight your way through throngs of people to get your bags X-rayed before you are even allowed into the station.  After this little performance an attendant usually grabs your ticket and points you to the waiting hall which often resembles a refugee camp.  Once in the hall it's then just a case of waiting around for the train to be called before being allowed onto the platform to board.  In short it's a bloody hassle.  And the waiting halls are like ovens!

With this digression aside we boarded and spent the next fourteen hours on the lowliest of Chinese trains.  It seemed we were straying too far from the well trodded tourist routes where the carriages are imaculate and the beds clean.  This was a real Chinese train; no air con, plenty of people smoking and hawking their guts up, all the while eating the parts of a chicken which at home are normally reserved for Bernard Matthews nuggets.  It was tiring and upon arriving in Yichang we took the first room that was availabe and slept.

The next morning came and we made a beeline for the ticketing office.  After queuing for half an hour we were at the front requesting tickets for Shanghai the following day. 'No' along with some wild gesticulating was the answer, the next available berth was an unreserved standing in five days time.  Suprisingly we passed on that one and enquired about Hong Kong. Again blank.  Next we proceeded to choose places at random, simply wishing to not have to stay in Yichang for the next five days.  After around ten minutes of this, grumblings of discontent from the queue and our increasingly evident exasperation the ticketing clerk said: 'Shanghai today at 2PM'.  So that was it, we were off to Shanghai and had taken an expensive detour to not see the Three Gorges Dam.

The remaining few hours were spent wandering through Yichang where we managed to see some great sights: the inside of an internet cafe and a McDonalds.  This is travelling!

Tags: On the Road


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