So, perhaps you’ve heard, and perhaps you haven’t, but I was going to go to Guangxi this break.
First I was going to go alone, because everyone else was doing something else. So on Saturday I went down to the ticket kiosk and bought a hard sleeper ticket for the 6:50 pm train to Guilin for Tuesday. Then, Sunday night, Emily decided she wanted to go too. Rejoice! I like that kid! So we went on down to the ticket kiosk and tried to buy her a hard sleeper next to mine. Well, naturally, mei you hard sleepers. So we got her a hard seat with the intent of a lot of snuggling.
So we packed our bags and looked up directions to the train station. Apparently the 982 goes straight there from our local bus stop! Cool! And it should only take an hour and ten minutes.
So we figured if we left campus at five, nearly two hours before, that’d be okay, right?
Well, we missed our train to Guilin. By one minute.
We got off the bus, sighted the train station ahead, half power walked and ran, went through security, climbed up the steps, looked at the departure gate, charged into waiting lounge nine, looked sad and showed our tickets to the conductor standing behind the gates. “Please, please?” we asked. But he just shook his head and pointed to his watch. “Are we too late?” we asked. But he just shook his head and pointed to his watch.
Now, if I go into detail on this, it’s going to be a long story. It was, after all, a long day. So I’m going to go ahead and reduce the next four hours into bullet points.
- Some scalpers try to indicate to us that there is another train to Guangxi in about 20 minutes. The word bupiao or upgrade tickets is thrown around. We decide we will fend for ourselves without them.
- We go to the left hand ticket office to attempt to somehow trade in our now worthless tickets. After getting in the shortest line, a lady tells us we should be in line 17. We go to line 17, it’s closed. We wait in another line, make some phone calls and figure out line 17 is in another place or perhaps another building.
- We go to the right hand ticket office. Same story.
- We go into a likely tunnel to the other side of the train station. We find signs for ticket exchange/refund etc. Spirits are lifted!
- We consult the guidebook. For about an hour. This will become important later.
- We cash in our now worthless tickets for an 80% refund. Sweet! Wasn’t expecting that!
- We buy more tickets. And, after hearing a lot of meiyou, meiyou, meiyou (don’t have) we now have soft sleeper tickets for tomorrow. After all, we are wealthy foreigners, so why not?
- Then we ate dinner in a random noodle shop. The staff was surprised.
- It’s about 9:30 and time for us to find our way home. We have difficulties finding a bus stop or subway stop, and end up hopping a random bus heading North, and hope for the best. At one point the bus conductor lady asks where we are headed. “Ditie” we say. “Daole, we’re here,” she says. Where is it? we ask, to multiple people… Apparently across the road and through a foot path. All in all, today was a good day to have basic Chinese skills and be able to read some useful characters.
- We find the subway and, on familiar ground, we make our way home, just in time to find the school’s gate only recently closed and a friendly guard still awake!
But surprise! A twist! We’re going to Nanjing instead! Four days isn’t enough time in Guangxi, we decided, so we are headed somewhere a little closer, and a little less jam packed with fabulous. We’re also going to be visiting Ethan! Maybe! So… I’m excited!