It’s amazing what a good nights rest can do for a person. Especially when that person is me. The early morn before the sores and shops open is a quiet time that beacons contemplation and solitude. Slowly the others that feel the same way congregate in places that cater to the needs of such an early hour. The smell of that first cup of coffee and the sound of a sizzling breakfast that soon is consumed like a tasty fleeting morsel of sustenance. We gathered by chance at Lucy’s tourists from different companies with schedules to uphold and stuff that had to be done just in time to shelter from the storm that accompanied our dining. The skies opened up without resistance releasing a torrent of rain and the sound of thunder. Those fortunate enough to find shelter waited for the sky to be tired of all this effort in order to move on to their destination.
It is much later in the day from the previous paragraph. Time has a funny way of moving forward at least in the way we perceive it. It comes and goes in spurts dribs and drabs but really it is like a metronome ticking away a cut at a time. Today the day is marked by the passing showers. When they start we stop wherever we can so as not to get wet. The shops are making money having stocked up on umbrellas and ponchos. I already went through one accidentally filing it as I took it off after returning from breakfast. My roommate wanted to sleep for a bit longer so I obliged. I tried and succeeded in talking with my folks. The sound keeps being off and I’m not sure where the problem is but at least they saw my face and know I’m alright. They are at that age when it’s me that starts to worry about them and not the other way around.
Checkout time was at noon but the bus doesn’t leave until four. After packing up I’m happy that all my stuff has been laundered and that it fit. It’s not a miracle yet but still satisfying to know that the method I’ve employs so far is working. After checking out what to do next? The rain began falling heavily again and I swallowed my pride and bought an umbrella. I really detest carrying one around but logically here it makes sense. As the rains waned between heavy and light so did the umbrellas utility. I got a chance to just explore the city itself without the rest. I haven’t really had time like this yet.
I meandered up the street with all the clubs and then got cought in another downpour that didn’t last long. I walked along and came up to a park which with its green foliage beackoned for exploration. There were a few statues and a square inside and I took some photos before the intensity of the rain signaled my intuition to seek a better shelter than what my umbrella provided. I wasn’t the only one feeling this way as we huddled under the sturdy roof and watched the traffic navigate the partially flooded streets.
In time with my stomach grumbling I decided to move on when the intensity of the rain weakened in order to find a place to eat. As I walked along the picture and price of the meal advertised tempted me to enter inside and climb to the second floor where the restaurant was. There was something nice about this restaurant and the calm classical music that played created a nice atmosphere. I found a spot where I wanted to sit overlooking a small pond and the mountain. The waitress wanted me to sit closer to her station but I gestured my insistence of sitting there. The first question she asked was if I spoke Chinese. She soon knew the answer. The menu had pictures and I quickly scanned what was on offer and made my decision of what to eat. When she started to bring the food to me I had a confused look on my face since one of the dishes wasn’t what I ordered. With the help of a translation app she had on her phone I found out that it was a promotion. It was soup with bok choi and it was a nice addition to my meal. I waited out the monsoon rains that were falling eating a nice spread of food and trying to talk to my brother over Skype. We didn’t have a good connection and I heard a garbled voice and saw a pixelated face. The meal was delicious btw good value for money.
The rain subsided by the time I finished and with some time to kill still I went to Youcan coffee and had a latte. I like the ambiance and location of this shop as this is the place where I had that conversation with those girls a couple of days ago. Their coffee is good too. They have a roasting machine and roast their own coffee. The wifi is better so I WhatsApped my brother to fill in the gaps we had in our conversation and a few others. It was nice to just sit there and do that. The VPN works well for me when the wifi connection is good. It’s the only way I can access my email to keep on top of some of the other things that are of importance once I begin to live in the real world once again. Nature has a way of prompting things along and I still had to buy some snacks for the road. I am now ready to go. I spoke with Harvey about our journey and it involves getting on a bus and driving to the train station where we get onto the overnight train then we get onto another train for another two hours tomorrow morning before getting into taxis to get us to our destination for about two in the afternoon tomorrow. Writing this down brings home the magnitude of the upcoming journey.
The lights on the train went out and now I’m laying in the middle bunk waiting to fall asleep. It’s kind of a funny journey and not entirely that bad at all. The train is fairly clean considering all the people that are on it.
We boarded the bus to get to the train station in a lul in the rain. We carried our bags a block up the street where our bus was parked. The hotel has all kinds of stalls in front of it as it is a padestrian thouroughfare. Once we were on the road the rain began to fall heavily again so much so that the bus actually turned around to take a different route due to the road being flooded. The rain has been falling heavily at times and it’s no surprise that the ground has refused to absorb any more of it.
We took some kind of a back road and I spotted a car partially submerged in water at the side of a road. The road we were on seemed to be under construction and there was machinery sitting idly periodicaly along the route. Some of the scenery we passed was beautiful while some was being shaped by the rising water. We reached the carrageway and finally felt the smoothness of a tolled surface. Progress was much quicker along this road but this changed once we got to the city. The rain hampered our progress as did the volume of traffic moving along the road.
Rain greeted us as we left the bus and quickly made our way to the train station. We wanted to avoid getting wet. The station is busy with many people traveling to their destinations. There was the customary security check and pat down as I beeped getting through the gates. The search was quick and we collected our bags and proceeded further to see which train we were going to take. The only thing I could understand on the board were the numbers. It would have been hard to figure out where to go if I was on my own. Fortunately we have Harvey to show us where to go.
We went up the stairs to wait in the lobby of Gate 3 with about 30 minutes to spare before boarding. We found a spot where we could deposit our bags off our shoulders and made a bee line to the toilets. We stood and waited for the train and became the center of attention for some as they very undescreetly took photos of us. I shook my hand at one to stop. Her phone’s flash was on and it announced her intention.
Harvey explained to us what was going to happen. The tickets we had didn’t place is all in the same car. We were spread out over a number of different cars. He gave us tickets so that we could get on and explained to us what to expect. The two of us in car number six made our way through the gate and down to the train. We navagated our way to the right car and beds and put our stuff away and sat in the corridor in preparation for the journey. There was another from our group near us and later on we negotiated with Harvey’s help to switch beds so that he is now sleeping above me.
We settled in and had a beer and some coke with fire water that I purchased at the market yesterday from a vendor. It is inside a water bottle as it came from a giant clay jar. It was inadvertently sipped on thinking it was her water bottle. The face and situation was comical. It was nice to sit around eating and drinking to help the time pass by. We shared stories of our adventures both present and past. We were a source of a bit of amusement to the locals traveling with us on the train. We tried to communicate but besides a few pleasantries our Chinese is poor.
Lights out came quickly and there are many more hours left until the morning when we leave the train at Wuchang and board a train to Yichang. I’m going to get some rest as best as I can on this sometimes jerky train.
It wasn’t the best of sleeps but it wasn’t entirely bad either. With the morning light shining through the window there was no point in trying to continue sleeping. The cramped quarters of the bed reinforced that decision. There was one task that occupied my mind and gave me purpose getting a container to have a coffee in. I sought out the dining car which upon finding it was just a bar with beer or spirits on offer. I gestured to the attendant what I wanted but I knew the answer before I even asked the question.
We are in a VIP lounge right now waiting for our train at 1020 or there abouts. We arrived at the station and congregated together and found some breakfast. I haven’t been this happy to see a McD’s in such a long time. I could have been more explorative with all the different places that are around but hunger and convenience trump a lot of the other considerations. We are currently in Wuchang and will be traveling to Yichang soon.
I’m trying to upload the photos so that I can post yesterday’s adventures but the wifi in this lounge is crappy. I may have to wait until we get to our destination in order to do that.