64 hours in the train

64 hours in the train

This blog is an intro in a break from my bicycle journey. Upcoming month I travel around in Chengdu with on my back a big yellow bag and on my side a cheerful blond lady. I get back on my bicycle in September to move on to Singapore.

Imagine, you are the only Western European-looking person in a hall with up to 500 people. Let’s say the rest of the people all look suspicious Asian. You can’t deny it, you attract attention. People react to your appearance and the average response is staring. Yes, you read it correct, people are staring at you. In the hall there are a hundred or so people who find you very interesting and translate that into staring. Would you feel uncomfortable? Doesn’t it matter to you? Do you want to leave? Ask people questions? Ignore? Stare back at them?

I’m in that hall. I’m in Kashgar in China and wait for the train to Turpan. I am convinced that I enter in a few hours a supremely comfortable train. What I do with that staring? I ignore it. Stare back, sometimes I make a gesture with a smile, asking if my face is really worth the staring effort. A new culture experience, think I’ll get used to it.

Suddenly everyone stand up and start running towards the closed door. Everyone is in a hurry, but for no particular reason, because there is still plenty of time to board that train. Nobody is watching each other. It all tries to go in one direction. It seems there is never enough for everyone in this country. In this case maybe place? I hope I’ll get a place for myself. I’m starting to be nervous. I start to rush like everybody else.

For no particular reason.

I start today with a three days of nothing. Three days of sitting. Of thinking. Of sleeping. I travel from Kashgar to Chengdu. It’s around 5,000 kilometer. Don’t worry, I didn’t got bored from cycling. I just am doing a break. It was about time to see my girlfriend Lisa again.

Then finally I sit. Comfortable? What is comfort anyway? I lost it. I don’t think the word comfort comes close. I’m between five other travelers, local travelers. It seems like a family. I’ve never had so little space to sit. This trip takes up to 22 hours. Help! 1,000 kilometers for 20 euros, why the hell should I believe that this can be comfortable?

Suddenly I hear music in high volume, an exotic Chinese melody goes through the train. We leave. This more seems like the roller coaster at the local fairground. When I look out of the window I see sand. Moments later, when I look out the window, I see sand. Two hours later, when I look out the window, I see sand. No, I’m lying, I see in the far distance a highway. In a month I’ll cycle there. With my bicycle, Ringo and.. a lot of sand.

It seems like I’m in a movie. Everyone pulls strange food from vacuum packages. Chicken feets, let me be honest, I have no idea what they all take off there. Someone comes along with foods and drinks: “Pass, pass!” It works not so good, I see a lot of chaos. Like people running for hot water for their instant noodles.

A girl across from me is breastfeeding her little baby. She looks just 17. It might be one of the only child’s she may have. In China there is still a one-child policy. A family mostly consists of three people, or you have to be so wealthy enough that you can pay the high penalty for a second. This girl might be not, otherwise she wouldn’t sit her with me in this cramped train wagon.

After 22 hours I arrive in Turpan. I could just sleep about four hours. In Turpan I get on the train for 4,000 kilometers with the destination Chengdu. Which is 42 hours. Maybe next time I might save money in a different way.

But hey, everything will be allright. Now, after six months I will finally see my girlfriend again.