Thursday, 12th, August, 2010. I
woke up early and brushed my teeth in the washing area. At the end of the carriage
there are 3 wash basins and a loo. I washed my face brushed my teeth and went
into the loo and encountered the biggest shit I have ever seen. It must have
been over a foot long and very thick as well. The curious thing was that the
monster that brought it into this world had very bad aim because the world
record beast was half in and half out. Like a giant slug oozing over an obstacle.
Even after I had exited the area I could still feel its presence. I wanted to
wash my hands again. Like a dark Jedi lord pervading my personal space I felt
the dark side of the force.
One of the things which I was looking
forward to on this 36 hour journey from the most southern point of China up to
the Northern capital Beijing was the views. Sarah and I looked out and saw a
bright green landscape. Tall Karst Mountains jutting up everywhere with trees
and foliage growing on them. Rich paddies ingeniously squeezed into every conceivable
free space. Often coming dangerously close to the trains tracks. Huge hills turned
into terraces with farmers bending over with their hands in the wet fields. A
more pleasant and organic sight than the vast symmetrical fields I imagine when
I think about western farming. Sometimes the hills stopped and a village would
pop up. With white block houses all looking similar. Other older places still
had the small houses made with unplaster red bricks. Dirt roads leading out of
the villages and growing smaller until they became foot paths entering the rice
paddies. The scenery didn’t change much the whole day and I spend most of it
just sitting and reading more or Ballards short stories and slowly getting through
my supply of beer.
drank a lot and by the evening I was feeling a bit sorry for myself, the days
intake had left me irritable and lethargic and prone to bouts of depression,
made more dark by the bleak and apocalyptic stories Ballard was telling me.
Fatigues tiresome weight entrenched my thoughts in the darkness. I put the book
down unable to take it anymore and started to have a chat with an old man who
was watching me by our cubicle door. He had placed his delicate hunched frame
on the small pull out seat outside and was looking at me with interest.
Tim: Where are you going?
Old man: I am going to Beijing, I got a ticket and when I get there
I will give them a phone call and they will pick me up.
Tim: Ah, do you know which province we are in now?
Old man: I am going to Beijing, we are in Hainan ( I didn’t know
where we were, but I did know that we were not in Hainan anymore)
Tim: But where are we now? Are we in Hunan?”
Old man: Yes, I am going to Beijing, and when I get there I will
give them a call”
Sarah: (grumpily waking up) Tim don’t talk to him he is mad he just
keeps repeating himself
At this point the old man began to talk for a very long time and for
most of it I didn’t understand it at all, I did get the jist of it all and as
Sarah said he was basically repeating himself. I lost interest and looked at
his dirty mangles toes now pulled out of his equally dirty rubber flip flops. Eventually
I walked off and splashed my face with water to wash away the madness. I looked
at my scruffy beard and pail face, dark unattractive bags under my eyes. I
looked though the end carriage door to the next one and saw the people who had
brought standing tickets. I looked through the glass door and it felt like a
prison. People crammed into a carriage with seats. All the seats had people and
the ails in between and the space by the loos had people sitting on newspapers
or leaning against the walls. A ticket inspector came from the other end and
using a square key he unlocked the carriage door, slipped past quickly and
locked it behind him. A grimace on his face as he exited the standing carrage
(as if he had just exited a leper colony). It was a grim thought that most of
these people would have to stand or sit uncomfortably for the duration of the
33 hour journey. The same look I have seen in chicken’s eyes when they are
bundled together in small cages where apparent in these tired traveler’s eyes.
The sun set quickly and for a short privileged time we sat on our
beds and watched as the bright red light sparkled and shimmered. Reflecting in
the rice fields, Salutes of tall mountains a black back drop. Then the night