Tour De Force Round 7
At long last things started to come together, or so we thought, and we made the train to Guangzhou for the long trip that could have been avoided had I done my research properly and verified the facts. All the time I was thinking how simple life could be if I was safely holed up in Bangers or Pattaya with a small piece of Siam flesh meshed in a teaspoon position. But this is travel and one has to take the good with the bad and that's what makes everything so much more special.
The train was not that bad and soon we were zooming through the Chinese countryside and amusing ourselves by doing my favourite hobby of people watching. We had no problems in attracting attention from the locals as we were the only whiteys on board and soon we had the young girls parading past in an attempt to attract our attention. Made some good friends and watched how the locals fed and prepared for bed. One young lad ate at least 5 bowls of noodles that his mother fed him before retiring and it led me to think about how the Chinese nation would fare in the new millennium. As I said, China has become very westernised, and the McDonalds and Co are everywhere and the effects are already showing on the more affluent members of society. Youngsters are showing that double jowled look and wearing out their pants before their time, America incarnate. Maybe it's a CIA plot to overthrow the country, because judging from the terrain and the populace, that is the only way it could be done. Another thing that really got to me was the spitting!! These people spit everywhere I promise you, I am not joking!! I have seen them spitting on the streets, on trains and I could swear I even heard a retch on the plane. After completing his ablutions a Chinese man would walk out of the toilets and spit on the street. The toilets themselves were shocking at most places I saw, consisting of squatters that normally had a few days worth of crap lying beneath. You had to take a deep breath before entering most. Horrendous!! There was nothing worse than seeing an absolutely beautiful woman walking towards you and then turning to spit. I tried to find out the reason for this but the closest I got was the explanation that spitting was the best way of getting rid of bad diseases. The mind boggles!!. But I digress and back to the train clacking itself across the Chinese landscape…
I had bought a couple of beers for the trip as well as a shot of Chinese rice whiskey and we ended up playing cards and having down downs with a great local girl who warned us about the pitfalls of our intended destination. Got onto a good buzz and settled back in my bunk for a good night's sleep….
Awoke dry and craving a good nicotine injection and a long slug of water. I was really dehydrated from the drinking the night before and my tongue stuck in the back of my throat. I could not find water anywhere and even the train's wash basins were dry. I was desperate and felt that I was going to pass out from lack of H2O. Scanned the supplies of the locals and could not find anything either. Gritted my teeth and took a slug of the last whiskey, which although was the last thing I needed did help to lubricate my throat. Shit, things were getting desperate now, and I went through my baggage to see if I had anything worthwhile. My hand then clasped around the familiar shape of a beer can and I knew that I was saved. Never has a beer gone down so well! Watched the sun rising over the Chinese countryside as we sped past and waited for the rest of the passengers to awake. It was such a mundane scenario that to this day nothing stands out in my mind. Maybe I was just prejudiced, but the time had come for me to leave this country and find greener pastures.
Heeded the wise words of our new Chinese friends and kept a good watch over our luggage when we got to Guang and exited the station. While Brett kept an eye on our bags, I went to the railway police station and got the address of the Vietnamese Embassy. When I got out I saw a couple of locals hugging a tree and Brett told me that they had been caught pickpocketing and were beaten by the cops and made to hug the tree awaiting their transport to prison. Witnessed a bit of public humiliation and it seems that it is a good thing to prevent petty crime as the guilty were paraded in front of the populace and had their names read out and their crimes revealed. Into the taxi and with the help of my Chinese written directions we arrived at the Embassy which just happened to be in the same building as a Landmark Hotel overlooking a nice park and our accommodation was solved at the same time. Checked in and went directly to the Embassy to arrange for the visa and then went out and explored the city a bit. Once again we noticed the Western influence and the large fast food chains were everywhere. Modern buildings were sprouting up all over the place and one could see that this (China) was going to be the future powerhouse in the economic world. We were walking through the park when 2 oldish women trailed us and I could not believe my ears when the one asked me if I wanted to go home with her. These were old hookers and once we got street wise we were able to identify them circulating the park picking up the old pensioners who hung out there. A few younger girls were also working the scene but they were so out of it and full of scars on their arms that it was a complete turnoff. After the long trip we had no energy for any form of nightlife and retired early. We also heard on CNN that a super typhoon was approaching Hong Kong and judging by the sky we had every reason to believe it.
Got up early and waited for the consulate to open and when it did I waited while they looked through the stack of passports and I had that sinking feeling again. Then…Voila…there she was, my little green book to freedom and with the correct visa! We had booked our train tickets back the previous day and as it was only due to leave at 2pm we passed the time watching the older folk singing and exercising in the park. The travel agent had told us that there were 2 train stations and to make sure that we went to the correct one. We asked the doorman who spoke a bit of English if he knew the station and he assured us he did and arranged a taxi for us. We had given ourselves an hour to get to the station and when the taxi arrived we asked both the doorman and the taxi driver if they were sure where to go and even showed our tickets. Both nodded vigorously and satisfied we climbed in. After about 10 minutes of driving Brett said he did not recognise any of the landmarks and I agreed with him. We asked the driver again and he assured us it was OK. The next thing we were caught up in a traffic jam and the traffic inched forward as the time seemed to fly past. We got to the station with only about 15 minutes to spare and dashed up the steps which also seemed unfamiliar. Showed our tickets to an official and yes, you guessed it, the Cunt had taken us to the wrong station!! We grabbed our luggage and with myself helping Brett with his, dashed back down and grabbed the first taxi available and he sped off with us. We watched the seconds ticking by and hoped something had delayed the train. Our driver tried his best but sweating and cursing we realised that we had missed the train. I will never forget the look on Brett's face as we slumped down on the floor of the station and pondered our situation. We could either overnight again in Guang or catch a bus back to Nanning. Once again the black Gods rolled the dice and we chose the latter. Standing in the line to cash in our tickets I was approached by a woman who asked me something in Chinese. I did not know what she was on about and just said "Nanning". She forced her way to the front and was chattering away to a man when he pulled out his police ID card and grabbed her roughly and began pulling her away, bumping us all out the way. Seems it was some kind of ticket scam, because she was screaming and they were roughing her up a bit. Got our refund minus a penalty and headed to the bus terminal. The bus was pulling out when 3 Chinese men rushed up and boarded and then sat directly behind us. Ignoring the non smoking signs they lit up and I thought it was strange that no one bothered to reprimand them. It was only about an hour later that we realised that these guys were total loonies. Everything was quite and we were trying to get some shut eye when they would suddenly start shouting at each other and one would storm up and down the bus. This went on for 12 hours!! I even awoke to find one of them fiddling in my top pocket trying to find my smokes and gave him a good push. He just gave me a blank look and walked forward and started shaking the bus driver. Eventually even one of the locals had had enough and got up and shouted at the loony, then having lost face by showing anger apologised to him. It was the worst journey of my life and eventually we were elated just to get to Nanning. Enough of this shit, we just wanted to get out and got the first train to Ping, crossed the border without incident, set our watches back an hour and were on our way to my beloved Hanoi and some sanity………
(To be continued……)
After all of this shit, will anyone ever dare complain about anything in Thailand again?