Today was another one of those days given over to planning. Travelling is not like being on holiday. Often whole days are taken up just organising getting from one place to another and doing boring things like washing. After our previous experiences of getting train tickets we decided to enlist some help. I really don't get it, I mean people moan in England about the train delays or leaves on the line but at least you can just turn up and get on. I'd take that any day over this system, yes they have a great rail network but you can never get a bloody ticket, and if you can you spend longer buying the ticket than you do on the train. Alex had helped me pick the trains and details on the Internet and said he would get the tickets for us but we had to stay at the hostel so he could contact us if they didn't have the ones we wanted. By midday Alex was still in bed so we decided to go and try to get the tickets from an agent as we didn't want to waste our whole day waiting in the hostel. We found a travel agent ( a whole in the wall with an old man and a girl behind it) the girl spoke through a little window and I passed her the details of the trains we wanted. She couldn't understand me and I couldn't understand her, they were meant to specialise in train tickets for foreigners but she didn't seem to have a clue. I asked how and when we got the tickets but she didn't understand, she could however say 3,400 yen (£340) very well and that's how much she kept asking me to hand over, before she had even confirmed train times and dates. If there's one thing I've learnt it's to trust my guy instincts so I just got up and left her to it. We returned to the hostel and luckily Alex was up. He took our money and passports and set off to get our tickets, it wasn't long before he was messaging us, most of the trains we wanted were sold out. So we had to do a lot of swapping around and one of the trains was unavailable for over a week between the days we wanted even though we were booking weeks in advance. We got the ones we could then spent the rest of the afternoon trying to find a flight which turned out to be cheaper than the train in the end, even if it did feel like cheating after coming all this way overland.
That's when I suggested to Steve that maybe we should cut our time shorter in China. It was just plain hard work and it wasn't the Asia I had pictured. Plus everyone we met talked about how great Vietnam and Laos were, and most importantly cheaper. It didn't take long to decide to leave China a week earlier and spend longer in Cambodia. Cambodia was the place I had fallen in love with last year, somehow after just a week there it had captured a part of me, and had pulled me back, it was the inspiration for giving everything up and coming back to Asia. It felt good booking a week at the hotel we had stayed at last year, a whole week of luxury, massages, sunbathing and swimming in the pool all for £6 a day, its the best hotel I've ever stayed at. It felt even better when they emailed be back within half an hour to thank me for returning and offering to sort my transport to Cambodia and pick up locally. Finally plans planned and most of the day gone it was time to set out. We got the tube which was easier than walking but nothing like the tube at home, the main difference being about 10 times more people, all pushing and shoving. To me the tube looked full, but no to the locals there was space for at least another 100. It was a bit like that game twister but without the fun. We got to Tiananmen Square in time to see the flag being lowered, by a troop of soldiers that marched across the road stopping traffic at precisely 187 steps a minute then lowered the flag and marched back again. I'm not quite sure why the flag isn't allowed out at night but I suppose it gives the soldiers something to do. Tiananmen Square was really just a great big open space with a giant tv and fancy buildings surrounding it, the wow factor was its size all huge and over the top, I can't remember the name of the guy who made it but I bet he had a little willy.