Friday, September 3, 2010

Lost in Translation: Train to Shanghai, China: 10 Days With My Cousin Traveling Through Macau, Hong Kong and China.

[Immediately click on song below]

[Let song play as you read]

"Rollin', rollin', rollin' . . . Keep that train a rollin' . . . Rollin', rollin', rollin' . . . ShangHAIII!"

With our one-way tickets in hand, Jessica and I boarded the train heading to Shanghai. There's something about riding a train that just feels more adventurous than riding a bus. Maybe it's because I don't ride trains often. I don't know. But what I DO know, is that I was happy as hell to be leaving the shithole city of Shenzhen for Shanghai, the Whore of the Orient. Don't ask me. That's just one of the many nicknames the city has been given. So, we were leaving a shithole for a whore. An improvement? We were hoping. I was just hoping that the Whore of the Orient wasn't gonna smell as well.

Jessica and I had tickets for a hard sleeper. And a hard nights sleep it would be. But not because I felt as if the bed was too hard. No. It was because my bed (as well as Jessica's) was the top bunk on level 3. Basically when I layed down on my back and extended my legs - which, by the way, would hang a freakish foot over the edge and into the aisle - I felt as if my face was a few semi-odd
inches away from the ceiling. It was as if I was sleeping in the top drawer of a dresser or something. And I was hot, too, just as you would imagine sleeping in a top drawer of a dresser would be.

"Rollin', rollin', rollin' . . . Keep that train a rollin' . . . Rollin', rollin', rollin' . . . ShangHAIII!"

There really wasn't much to do on the train but to read or stare out the window. I did more of the latter. I was surprised with how very little uninhabited land there was from Shenzhen to Shanghai. In fact, I don't recall seeing any. We passed through some small towns but for the most part it appeared as if we were passing through a city which never seemed to end. It was just one city after the next, and you couldn't quite determine where one city ended from where the next one began. That gives you an idea of how populated and vast this country really is. Crazy, really.

"Rollin', rollin', rollin' . . . Keep that train a rollin' . . . Rollin', rollin', rollin' . . . ShangHAIII!"

[Stop music above or let it finish before you continue to read]

I have some fond memories of our train ride when I think back on it.

Memory #1

After Jessica and I consumed a few bananas we noticed that there wasn't any waste baskets to throw our rubbish into. "Okay, so in about 1 hour this place is going to turn into a cesspool," Jessica said after returning in search of a waste basket. Why there wasn't any waste bins anywhere is beyond me? I'm beginning to believe that Asians enjoy living in filth. It's really getting old. Seriously.

Memory #2

"So? How was it?" I said to Jessica, who'd just returned from using the toilet. "I mean, it was a squat toilet," she said, "so . . . " It was funny listening to Jessica talk about how gross the bathroom was and how she just hoped that she wouldn't fall, something that could easily happen due to the train and its inability to remain still which, at any moment, could suddenly sway in any direction and cause someone who may happen to be in a squatting position to tip over. Anyone's nightmare who's seen and gone to the toilet on a train in China.

Memory #3

"There's a roach on the wall next to your bed," Jessica said in dismay as I was reading. "Ah, man. C'mon!" Jessica wasn't very happy about this, to say the least, who, as I have mentioned before, has a strong disdain and fear for roaches. It was extremely unsettling for her to see a roach, and for the next hour or so as I was reading I would see Jessica frequently checking her sheets, pillow and wall for the creepy crawlers. Poor thing. But it was funny.

Memory #4

It was around 9 p.m. and both Jessica and I were reading on our bunks when the lights were suddenly turned off. "Hey!" Jessica shouted, unhappy that the lights had just been turned off at such an early time in the evening. Jessica became quite disgruntled as she didn't have a flashlight to use in order to read.

Click, click.

Luckily I had one, so I continued to read. "Okay," said Jessica, sounding restless and discontent, "I'm not tired enough to go to sleep yet, so I'm going to go to the dining area and read there." I remember getting a kick out of watching her trying to climb down from the top bunk in the dark. Ah, yes, Jessica (at her expense) provided countless humorous moments for me.

Memory #5

"Jessica. Jessica. JESSICA!" I said, as I repeatedly shook her to wake her up.

"Huh, what? What happened?"

I told her that we had unexpectedly arrived in Shanghai. It's not too often that you arrive at your destination earlier than expected. So we quickly grabbed our things as we were the last people present on the train, and headed out.

" . . . ShangHAIII!".


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