Love Is a Shockful Train Station

Misty mountain top of the Yellow Mountains
After conquering the Yangtze and five sick days in the Yellow Mountains I was ready to move up and move on. Despite the awesomeness of being in China as a backpacker for almost four months, I was craving another country...different smells, different faces, different food. And some friends. With the exception of some hardcore German hikers, the east of China was gettin' pretty lonely. Maria, JP and a bottle of champagne were waiting for me in Beijing, I still had some old towns and city walls to explore, and a not-so secret Communist village to wander around. Other than that I was ready for a break from China. And China needed a break from me.
But first, I had to get out of eastern China. That meant taking a lot of trains. And wandering around in the hot Mainland sun with a backpack that was only getting heavier. And more waiting around train ticket booking kiosks in the hot sun with a backpack that was only getting heavier. Buying a train ticket in China is usually worse than taking the train itself (and the ride is long my friends; it's pretty rare as a traveler to take a train ride that's less than five hours in China, 15 is the national average...the country is huge and not all trains get to be fast). Long lines on the road are one of the reasons I'm glad I travel solo. If I had to deal with someone I loved and someone I loved had to deal with me, I don't know how much love would remain in us after a trip to the Chinese Train Ticket Booking Office together.There's pushing and shoving. No one is calm, quiet and/or collected. Everybody stinks. And most of all you, who has probably been in transit all day with a big backpack. Everyone is yelling in a language you don't understand. The experience is bad enough for Chinese people, and they know the language. They're also more experienced at pushing their way to the front of the line. I was an amateur in this type of combat before China, and in this way as well as so many others, China made me a stronger person. By the end of this trip I was shoving people so hard on the subway and in train lines that I saw some shock and awe in my targets faces. There's a reason China is famous for their Kung Fu movies...
My last three Chinese train trips...forever, or just for now?

So I took a bus out of the Huangshan (Yellow Mountains) Tunxi village and into the capital city of Hefei. It was a Wednesday, it wasn't holiday time, but it was the summer, maybe that had something to do with it. But thinking about the madness at the Hefei train station that day makes me grateful to be a Canadian girl with part-time ownership of a Honda Civic. For all the people (basically everyone) who criticize China for polluting too much (yes, I'm one of them too) please know that most of the population doesn't drive...well, except for electric bikes. They use public transportation or they stay put. These are their options. What are yours? Probably more than theirs. So for all the people who squish themselves like sardines to get to where they need to go, thank you. I don't think you need my thank you but I'm giving it to you anyway, you billions of strangers. You are one of the reasons our world has not exploded yet. We should all aspire to live like you. I try and do my part, but the Civic calls my name from time to time. I blame the suburbs. Stupid suburbs.

As for me and China, our relationship had hit a plateau and we both agreed it was time to see other people. So after a few more amazing weeks exploring by myself, dodging electric bikes and creepy photographers, and one last week at Maria and JP's with our champagne, I left China. They stamped me out at the Beijing airport on the 18th of July and we've been on a break since. Will we ever rekindle that old fire and pick up where we left off? Only time will tell. I have to shelve some more books at work and see where the wind blows me.
Table for one, my usual dinner. 


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