Thursday, July 15, 2010

July 15th: Moving On

Rolling on down the tracks again—on my way to Beijing this time.  The train is crowded—every seat is filled, and then there are plenty of people standing in the aisles or sitting on little stools (which they brought for the occasion, or else you can buy one from a woman who came around yelling with a stack of them a few times early in the trip).  Really, this train and the European trains I'm used to are fairly similar; if it weren't for the people, I suppose this could pass for a second-class car in Austria. However, it's the differences that stand out now, of course. 

First of all, I was expecting something like the six-person compartments that seem to be the standard for the cheap trains throughout Europe. That would not be enough togetherness for the Chinese, though, I suppose—only six friends? Why contain people when you can all enjoy the closeness of a car of 100?  This train that I'm on is more like a Eurostar—I wrote 'thankfully' in my journal, although I can't remember just now why; being in a compartment with only six people is sounding better and better by now.  This carriage is the seats facing each other with a table between configuration. However on one side, the seats are two by two, but on the other (mine) they are three by three. I was overjoyed to find that I have a window seat, and thus some chance of sleeping as I can lean against the wall, but it is the window seat on the inside of the three seat section. That doesn't really bother me, except I'll have to annoy a lot of people if I ever need to get up to go to the bathroom. 

It seems like a party on here.  In Europe, people usually travel by themselves or with only a small group on the Eurostar—mostly for business. Everyone reads the paper or sleeps.  There is not a lot of chatter; those that do talk keep their voices low. Here, everyone's talking and laughing, and there are TVs, with slapstick comedy shows on. There's so much physical humor that they're even a bit entertaining for someone like me who has a hard time following the dialog. 

It's more crowded, for sure, than European trains—not quite so much leg room, and it seems the seats are a bit closer.  I don't know where all these standing people will go or what they will do when people start to go to sleep. Surely they can't stand all night long—it's a thirteen-hour trip.  If they sit in the aisle, they are constantly popping up and down as people tap them, wanting by. Another difference, I'm getting hot.  Usually on a Eurostar I needed a jacket in July. 

It got dark a bit quickly tonight, after raining all day, followed by a foggy damp twilight.  It made me think of late November, if I could ignore the clothes we're all wearing. As I sit here fanning myself, November sounds better and better. 


Post a Comment