Twenty Eight Hours Later – sounds like the introduction to a horror story doesn’t it? Well it felt like it…I am NEVER doing 28 hours on a hard sleeper train EVER AGAIN! I finally arrive in Guangzhou – dubbed the ‘European Party Capital of China’.
After experiencing Shanghai by day – discovering that the markets are much better in Beijing, but much cooler in Shanghai (they even have underground markets in disused storm tunnels) – and by night discovering strange grimy bars by the names of ‘Logo’ and ‘The Shelter’, marvelling at midnight dumpling makers hard at work on our way home and living out our Eurovision dreams at numerous KTV bars. It was now time to rock the suburbs.
Saved the last of my pennies to afford a flight from Beijing to Shanghai, still not sure if I would have been better off getting the train…either way it was still like being in folded into a tin can next to a furnace. But it got me to my destination eventually (after a 3hr delay)
Having spent most of the evening listening to Michael Jackson CDs on repeat it was a little too late when some of us attempted to party hard in Beijing.
Considering it was almost 3am and without anything vaguely resembling a ‘club’ near our hostel, we headed home and called it quits as we had an adventurous day starting at Summer Palace planned for the next morning.
Today we tried our hand at Chinese handcraft before heading to the train station in an attempt to book trains from Beijing to Xi’an and Xi’an to Shanghai. We didn’t have any luck and I nearly caused a riot by not letting a tramp push in front of me…cultural differences.
And we thought hard sleepers were evil…we quickly re-assessed this thought when we sat down on these hard seats…and remained there for the next 6 hours!
At 1.30pm we assembled in the ‘Multi Function Purpose Room Hall’ for some renditions of traditional Chinese folk music by a funny little Chinese man in chinos, flanel shirt and a cowboy hat.
Classes stated today, unfortunately I was late as I went to the wrong block. Luckily as it was the first day I didn’t have to sing the alphabet in Chinese! Phew!
After spending a solid 7 hours crammed in an overheated sardine tin (sorry I mean train), looking like classic Western tourists in our rucksacks with our maps and sweaty faces – definitely the only Westerners on the whole train – we finally arrive in Harbin, Heilongjiang – China’s most northern province. The bus journey from station to university was so bumpy I wondered if Fred Flintstone had been commissioned to make the wheels AND the road!
HAPPY DRAGON HOSTEL BEIJING BIKE TOUR
This is probably the most exhilarating bike ride…in the world! And gives a whole new meaning to the word ‘exercise’. If you are a thrill seeker, death-cheater, or just plain mental, then this is the ride for you.
If you prefer to keep your feet firmly on the pavement then maybe a market or a walking tour of Beijing would be more up your street.