This snooze button is gonna get us into trouble one day! We planned on waking up at 7:00am but I pressed the snooze button on my mobile and the next thing I remember, it's 08:00am. We practically ran out of the hostel and dived on the underground to shanghai station. We actually made good time and had 30mins to spare but we took the wrong turning out of the subway. 20 mins later and with people pointing us in several directions we felt like we were going round in circles, so re-traced our steps to find the correct exit. Now back in england I've turned the late dash for the train into an art form and normally board as the doors are closing but as we were running, I really didn't think we would make it. We bolted through security, raced down the stairs, shouting for them to wait and dived into the first carriage.....the train pulled away 30secs later.
Our joy was short lived as we discovered we'd hoped on carriage 17 whilst our seats were in carriage 3. The locals couldn't stop staring and who could blame them. I was dripping wet from the marathon like sprint, lugging a backpack, rucksack and a Nike football under my arm, with my shorts practically around my ankles because I'd left my belt in the rucksack. To say the train was packed would be an massive understatement. There was probably enough space for around 60 people per carriage but the number was closer to 100 with another 20 people standing/sleeping between carriages. After trekking the length of the train, we found our seats for the next 20hours. They were absolutely rock hard, the back of the chair was at 90 degrees, making it impossible to sit comfortably. To top it off, the Rubix cube I'd bought in Lantau Island lasted all of 20mins before crumbling into a heap of unsolvable cubes, much to the amusement of the locals sitting around me.
I had some local food, couldn't tell you what it was but it was quite tasty. Tried to sleep on the little table to my right but only had the corner of a table to lean on, I did manage 45mins but woke up and felt like I'd dislocated my shoulder. I can honestly say it was the worst train journey I've been on, as it was so uncomfortable but trying to look at the positives, I kept telling Steve 'It's character building'
Towards the end of the journey, a man collapsed and started having convulsions, it was quite scary as it seemed everyone had just crowed round him to see what the fuss was about but luckily there was a first aider on hand. After a while, the old man came around and the train was diverted to a nearby station, so he could be taken to hospital.
We finally reached Xi'an at 04:25am, absolutely cream cracked and craving food. We headed out of the station and staring us right in the face was good old Ronald McDonald and those famous golden arches. Steve and I just looked at each other and like a pair of Cheshire cat's, our grins lit up the night sky (For those of you turning your nose up at McDonald's, it was the only establishment open) We stepped inside and felt like we were in a scene from a movie (You know where the music suddenly stops, everybody turns round and stares and someone drops there drink) The look on people's face's was an absolute picture and if it wasn't for my belly rumbling, I would have happily snapped away. Undeterred and secretly enjoying the attention, I opted for a sausage and egg McMuffin but had to settle with OJ as they had no Hot Chocolate :(
We left Mc'ds in high spirtis and flagged down a taxi. I had the hostel address written down on a piece of paper, so thought we would find it with relative ease. The 1st taxi driver turned out to be a comedian and told us it would cost 150 Juan for the ride, we told him where to go and walked off, he then came back and dropped his price to 40 Juan. 5 mins into the journey, he takes us down a few back roads and then into an ally way...Now I'm thinking I'm gonna have to go Bruce Lee on his backside but it turns out to be a hotel...the guy actually had no idea where our hostel was, so decided to drop us off here. I went into reception with him, praying for someone that could speak a little English (I know, I know it's not their job to speak English but I'm just a lazy foreigner). No such luck but after a few minutes of speaking really slowly and a few gestures, the woman understood where our hostel was and gave our driver directions.
So thankful to be at the hostel in one piece, Steve gave the driver 50 Juan and told him to keep the change (We later found out it should have cost us 15 Juan but we were just glad to have found the place) The guy's at reception were nice and led us to our room. It was a 6 bed sleeper but we were the only people there that night, so didn't have to worry about waking anyone up. I just chucked all my stuff on the floor and dived onto bed...20 secs later I was long gone.