Overnight to Shanghai

I'm currently somewhere between Beijing and Shanghai, but have no idea where. We are 11 hours into a 14 hour train journey, which has been a little strange. The day started early. As I decided to join the others in returning to the Summer Palace. The grounds did not look as nice as before as so much was obscured by thick smog. However, this time we climbed up to the beautiful Buddhist monastery above the hill, a visit that required climbing more steep staircases. On the way back we visited the Lama Temple, which a beautifully decorative monastery in which the air hangs thick with incense. The quietness of the temple is in marked contrast to the general noise of Bejing, which is why it was which a shame that this would be routinely punctuated by the shouts of Chinese tour guides bellowing on loudspeakers. I'm sorry to say that at this time, my overriding impression of the people so far are that they are shouter and spitters. Hardly a few steps go past without the sound of someone loudly clearing their nasal cavities and gobbling the contents onto the street. The shouting is just as bad with raised voices, and piercing calls frequently ring out no matter the location or the situation. It will be interesting to see is this is mainly localised to Beijing, or if all places I visit will be like this. Our guide Chan, or “CEO” as the tour company prefers to call them, continues to underwhelm me. He is a nice enough chap, and appears to try hard; but by his own admission he has not done this for a while and it is showing. He appears frequently at a loss and his attempts at clarification are painful at times. We have a saying in Guernsey, that someone is ’going around Sark to get to Herm’ when someone meanders from the point. Chan, in my opinion, heads to St. Marlo rather than Sark. I cannot fault his enthusiasm, but I hope that it is simply a case of re-finding his groove. Last night we ate dinner at the train station. That means the majority of us have now eaten McDonalds in China. This morning I've eaten a small tub of slices peaches in syrup for breakfast, the only recognisable thing that I could find in the train station besides chocolate. Chinese pre-packaged food is bountiful, but confusing. The packets are large and generally vacuum sealed and filled with colourful writing and lots of cloudbursts and stars reminiscent of ’new and improved’ style graphics on western food. What they don't have is any pictures or windows to give you a clue what is inside! I am sure there was an entire range of delights available that I could not identify. In the restaurants this has not been a problem as menus are generally presented in picture form making it simple to order. My own language skills have not yet progressed beyond, hello, please and thank you. However, along with most of the group we have learned how to sign language numbers using our hands, which everyone recognises. 1 to 5 are fairly obvious, but others such as 8 - a finger gun, are not. It has proven useful when purchasing drinks etc. The sleeping arrangements are cramped. The carriage is divided in to compartments roughly seven foot wide. In the space, there are six berths. Two bunks, side-by-side with a small gap to walk between. The bunks are then triple stacked up to the ceiling giving the six berths. Most of the group are in in two compartments With the exception of myself and Max. Max is in with a bunch of Chinese students, and I am in with a family that it is fair to say are not pleased to have the company. Last night I spent most of my time in with the others, sitting on a bunk and just enjoying the craic until the lights switched off at 10pm. I then went to bed and miraculously dropped off almost immediately. Unfortunately, I then woke gone 1am and spent the rest of the time drifting in and out of sleep. At 5am, the family awoke and started to have a full volume conversation. The only people in the carriage to do so. They then cooked instant noodles, one of them eating with the most unusual noises, a slurp followed by a kind of wet smacking sound. Somehow he managed to make this last over 30 minutes. In fact, as I write this on my bunk, he has just placed himself next to me, his back pressed against mine, as I sit cross legged! The journey itself has not been unpleasant, but the hostility coming from the family is surprising, but in a country with this many people it cannot be surprising to meet some unpleasant ones. Sent from my iPad
I’m currently somewhere between Beijing and Shanghai, but have no idea where. We are 11 hours into a 14 hour train journey, which has been a little strange. The day started early. As I decided to join the others in returning to the Summer Palace. The grounds did not look as nice as before as so much was obscured by thick smog. However, this time we climbed up to the beautiful Buddhist monastery above the hill, a visit that required climbing more steep staircases. On the way back we visited the Lama Temple, which a beautifully decorative monastery in which the air hangs thick with incense. The quietness of the temple is in marked contrast to the general noise of Bejing, which is why it was which a shame that this would be routinely punctuated by the shouts of Chinese tour guides bellowing on loudspeakers. I’m sorry to say that at this time, my overriding impression of the people so far are that they are shouter and spitters. Hardly a few steps go past without the sound of someone loudly clearing their nasal cavities and gobbling the contents onto the street. The shouting is just as bad with raised voices, and piercing calls frequently ring out no matter the location or the situation. It will be interesting to see is this is mainly localised to Beijing, or if all places I visit will be like this. Our guide Chan, or “CEO” as the tour company prefers to call them, continues to underwhelm me. He is a nice enough chap, and appears to try hard; but by his own admission he has not done this for a while and it is showing. He appears frequently at a loss and his attempts at clarification are painful at times. We have a saying in Guernsey, that someone is ’going around Sark to get to Herm’ when someone meanders from the point. Chan, in my opinion, heads to St. Marlo rather than Sark. I cannot fault his enthusiasm, but I hope that it is simply a case of re-finding his groove. Last night we ate dinner at the train station. That means the majority of us have now eaten McDonalds in China. This morning I’ve eaten a small tub of slices peaches in syrup for breakfast, the only recognisable thing that I could find in the train station besides chocolate. Chinese pre-packaged food is bountiful, but confusing. The packets are large and generally vacuum sealed and filled with colourful writing and lots of cloudbursts and stars reminiscent of ’new and improved’ style graphics on western food. What they don’t have is any pictures or windows to give you a clue what is inside! I am sure there was an entire range of delights available that I could not identify. In the restaurants this has not been a problem as menus are generally presented in picture form making it simple to order. My own language skills have not yet progressed beyond, hello, please and thank you. However, along with most of the group we have learned how to sign language numbers using our hands, which everyone recognises. 1 to 5 are fairly obvious, but others such as 8 – a finger gun, are not. It has proven useful when purchasing drinks etc. The sleeping arrangements are cramped. The carriage is divided in to compartments roughly seven foot wide. In the space, there are six berths. Two bunks, side-by-side with a small gap to walk between. The bunks are then triple stacked up to the ceiling giving the six berths. Most of the group are in in two compartments With the exception of myself and Max. Max is in with a bunch of Chinese students, and I am in with a family that it is fair to say are not pleased to have the company. Last night I spent most of my time in with the others, sitting on a bunk and just enjoying the craic until the lights switched off at 10pm. I then went to bed and miraculously dropped off almost immediately. Unfortunately, I then woke gone 1am and spent the rest of the time drifting in and out of sleep. At 5am, the family awoke and started to have a full volume conversation. The only people in the carriage to do so. They then cooked instant noodles, one of them eating with the most unusual noises, a slurp followed by a kind of wet smacking sound. Somehow he managed to make this last over 30 minutes. In fact, as I write this on my bunk, he has just placed himself next to me, his back pressed against mine, as I sit cross legged! The journey itself has not been unpleasant, but the hostility coming from the family is surprising, but in a country with this many people it cannot be surprising to meet some unpleasant ones. Sent from my iPad

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