Guangzhou, China (7th Dec 2007)
After a relatively painless Hydrofoil trip we arrived in Panyu, 30km south of Guangzhou, which is when the fun began! Half expecting a transfer to our hotel we were disappointed to not see anyone holding a sign with our name on it but weren't too disheartened as we thought we could get on a shuttle bus that dropped off at hotels in the area. Then came the second blow when the people on the bus didn't know the name of our hotel and we didn't have the Chinese name and so they couldn't take us. Feeling all hope fading away we began to panic but then a lady told us to get in a van with her and we would be taken to a different hotel where we could get a taxi or metro. Back home rule number one is never get in an unidentified taxi but somehow the same rules don't seem to apply when away and so we agreed as it seemed like our last resort. Again we felt very lazy as the other people in the minibus were trying their best to speak English to us but there was a lot of miscommunication and in the end we just had to pray that it would all work out and we wouldn't be mugged and stranded in the backstreets of an foreign town, one of the nicer thoughts that frequented our mind for the whole journey! Nearly an hour later we pulled up at a metro station and the lady who invited us onto the minibus directed us into the station and pointed out where we should be going and even changed some Hong Kong Dollars for us as we hadn't managed to get any Chinese money yet. Relief smothered us and we stepped out of the metro and saw the name of our hotel flashing above us in big neon letters, we were home!! As it was nearing 10pm and we still hadn't had anything to eat we quickly checked in, finally managed to get some money out at the 4th cash machine we tried and made a beeline for the 24 hour McDonald's we had passed on our way, gorging ourselves on anything we could! And that's pretty much all we saw of Guangzhou as the next day we had to be at the train station for noon to get the overnight train to Xi'an!
After a mad dash to the train thanks to a change of platform we settled into our 4 berth cabin, preparing ourselves for the 24 hour journey ahead of us. It wasn't the most eventful of days but at 11pm we were interrupted by a couple and small child coming to occupy the other two beds in the cabin. Not long after we all drifted off to sleep, occasionally woken by the train slamming on its breaks. The majority of the next day was spend either reading, sleeping and every now and then having an inflatable ball thrown at us by the little boy but again the language barrier prevented us from, being able to talk to this parents despite their best efforts.