October 9, 2006 - In Transit, China
Stocked Up for the Long Haul
October 02, 2006
The vacation officially started on Saturday, but to coordinate with the rest of the VIA crew, I decided to not leave Guyuan until Monday morning. A 4-hour busride to Yinchuan, the capital of Ningxia, and then an 8-hour busride to Taiyuan, Shanxis’ capital - not to be confused with Shaanxi - where I would meet Adam, Scott, Anj & Shannon by 10 or 11PM. Easy. 12 hours of travel compared to their 25+.
Bus to Yinchuan was a breeze - actually found myself in a conversation I could maintain for an hour or 2 - and the bus to Taiyuan was easy to find.
After assuring a few people that I had brought enough warm clothes for the trip into the mountains I hopped on the bus. A sleeper bus.
A large pile of red plastic bags greeted me at the top of the bus stairs. I looked at them realizing they were important - but I didn’t know why.
I took one step too far and found out. Fast.
The machine-gun Chinese caught me mid-step and was accompanied by frantic gesticulation to my feet and the bags. Aha - shoes in bag. Clean floors on a sleeper bus are a nice touch.
I settled into my cot - yup, a cot on a bus - and got ready for the ride. That’s when I looked over at my neighbor in the middle-isle and noticed his rations far outdid my two bingzi and half-bottle of water. He looked like he was going for a marathon ride. I asked him when we would get to Taiyuan.
“Mingtian zaoshang leo dian.”
I laughed. How do you tell somebody to be serious that you don’t know? 6AM the next morning. That would mean a 20-hour busride.
I repeated myself and added the tomorrow morning bit.
“Dui,” followed by a big grin. Correct.
My 8-hour milk-run had just turned into a 20-hour journey.
Looking on the bright-side, I’d just been saved a nights hotel fee.
Tumbleweeds... and no comments. How 'bout livening things up?