It was time to get the train to Yangshuo. We were expecting the worse and we weren't entirely disappointed. We had opted for hard sleeper, the worse class. The train was no different to the others we have been on but our carriage was open the full length this time and stacked 3 beds high. So there was no privacy, less room than normal and it was very noisy, but it wasn't too bad. I didn't get much sleep I had the top bunk and the ceiling was so close i couldn't sit up on it, it was too much like being in a coffin - not that I've ever been in one. And the air conditioning was broken. We seemed to be the only westerners on the train and people kept staring at me. I would smile or say hello to them but they would just carry on staring at me. The people in the beds closest to us kept constantly answering calls and texting and watching tv on iPads at full blast with no consideration for anyone trying to sleep. Eventually I nodded off in the early hours.
I was woken in the morning by someone walking past and knocking my foot. The curtains had been opened and the sun Pored in. The people below we're having a conversation as if they were at opposite ends of the train and another guy was playing music really loudly. Guess I must have slept in and they were discreetly telling me I was a lazy b******. I got up and got out of the coffin to stretch my legs and back. I looked at my phone it was 6.45am. Aaaahhhhh these little f***ers are relentless! Does no one in China own a pair of earphones? Their meant to be at the forefront of technology, yet these people had obviously never heard of earphones, or privacy, or personal space or manners!
I put Emeli Sandes on my phone and played it full blast, no one batted an eyelid, so I sang along at the top of of my voice drowning out their music and conversations. China 1 Gavin 1.
I made myself a coffee and had a fag - yes I've started smoking - not through stress even though you would think it today. Travelling on a budget means having to forgo a lot of things I wouldn't normally class as luxuries. It's all noodles, bread and crappy trains. But fags are only 50p a pack and feel like such a luxury plus giving a fag to a Chinese person is a sign of friendship and has got me out of a few scrapes - thats my story anyway and im sticking to it.
The world outside the window had changed beyond recognition. Within one night the scenery had transformed. Young boys fished in the rivers, ladies worked away in the fields, wearing those cone shaped hats that you imagine everyone wears in China (a bit like the French and their berets and onion garlands or is it garlic? I always have this argument.). A motorbike criss crossed the dirt tracks as the buffalos ploughed the fields. All surrounded by giant lush green mountains.
Finally this was the Asia I was looking for. The same Asia that I had fallen in love with last year, the place that had captured part of me, convinced me to give up everything and lured me across the world.