At least in my opinion.
We left Beijing last night around 11:30pm, an hour and a half later than our scheduled departure time, on the way to Pingyao, a small traditional Chinese town several hundred kilometers south west of Beijing. We thought we had 2nd class sleeper bunks, but we didn’t. We had 3rd class hard seats. Third class is always a little chaotic as it’s often standing room only and jam packed and the train to Pingyao was no exception. I’ve done quite a bit of train travel, but I’ve never seen anything quite like the insanity of boarding a train in China.
People were coming from all directions, running, shouting, pushing, frantic to board the train. The train attendant was shouting at the top of his lungs as he checked tickets and the human centrifuge pushed past him through the train door onto the carriage. Ben and I looked at each other, bewildered. Why was this happening if we had assigned seats?
Wait. We do have assigned seats, right?
In the face of such uncertainty we had no choice but to join the madness and bully our way onto the train. After some elbow throwing and outright pushing, we discovered that we did indeed have seats, but we were surrounded by people who did not. As uncomfortable as that seat was, boy was I glad that I at least had one.
It took 11 hours to get here. It was a long uncomfortable journey, but a glimpse into the way of life here. I actually enjoyed it except for the spitting on the floor and the annoying train attendant who woke us all up in the middle of the night by blasting “Jingle Bells” out of a megaphone.
So, now we are in Pingyao, and it is lovely and relaxing. It’s just what we needed after a busy week in Beijing.
Tags: Amanda Formoso, China, Pingyao, Travel