The train ride to Hong Kong was grueling. Not because it was particularly uncomfortable – but because it was just so excruciatingly long. I thought for sure they’d have a power outlet somewhere, enabling me to utilize the extra hours catching up on blogs and programming. Hell, even the Egyptian trains had outlets. But nope. Not one on the entire train.
I ended up passing most of the time reading my Lonely Planet…during which I realized that I’d just been within two hours of the world-famous Shaolin Temple (while at the Longmen Grottos near Luoyang).
Damnit!! This is why I like researching in advance 😥
…Okay, I’ll admit it – there was one other reason why this ride was just a tad more painful than your average 30-hour-sleeper: because the mainland’s spitting culture finally started getting to me…just a little bit.
It can really be quite mindblowing at times – loud, hawking noises followed by massive globs of phlegm being projected in every possible direction. In the bathroom sinks, on the hallway floors, out the open windows, even right next to the foot of my bed. On this particular train, the guy on the bunk below me sat on the edge repeatedly gurgling and slurping before letting massive loads of snot fall on the floor right in the middle of our tiny 6-person berth. I’ve witnessed old men spraying the floors of public buses one inch from the feet of the cute college student sitting next to them, and had meals in nice restaurants interrupted by the sight of dangling loogies & regurgitated food. Now I see why Andy insisted that guests take their shoes off before entering his apartment.
As for me, I quickly found myself being very careful about what my shoes touched and what they didn’t touch – and about setting my backpack down on any floor, anywhere 😛
(One more thing I noticed for the first time on this particular train ride: the “toilets” were actually just metal holes leading right down onto the tracks! After doing your business you were responsible for filling a small bucket with water and using it to wash the turd into the hole. Why more…erm…”human leftovers” hasn’t accumulated on the tracks is still unknown to me, but take this as a word of advice: don’t go strolling along any train tracks in China!)