China, Day 23: April 25th, 1992, Changsa to Shaoshan
[t] Yesterday’s Travel Trauma day left off with plans to try our luck at securing tickets out of Changsha at the train station before heading to Shaoshan.
“Up early enough to depart hotel about 8am. In no mood/physical state to brave the train station ticket window, but it had to be done. Finding the strength to overcome! albeit miserably. Queued at window 6 for about 30 minutes before reaching the window. Grit blocked the left access with herself and our packs to prevent (at least from one side) queue jumps which seem to operate throughout China. The previous evening I had laboriously compiled 3 destination sheets - 1 to Kunming, 1 to Guilin, 1 to Shaoshan. The ticket window was barricaded behind a metal fence with an opening just large enough to frame the face opposite the small window in which was perched a slat of wood at an upward angle which served to just about make impossible any eye contact between the people and the ticket girl. Most Chinese could barely reach the window through the metal fence! I, of course, could’ve poked her in the eye had I felt so inclined. I presented her with option #1 - Kunming. Back and forth, with the aid of an ‘english speaker’ she dug out from the depths of the office. As it transpired, so I understood, only one hard-sleeper was available on ANY day before the 28th - even hard seats seemed to be in short supply. Insisting on the 28th as the first day we could possibly travel, I switched tactics and turned the piece of paper over to option #2 - Guilin. Dave and his dad miraculously materialized at this point but we were too deep to pay them much attention. Crowd getting anxious at this point. Mob scene, but I stood my ground, Grit = mental support. Guilin was cool, 2 hard seats for the 8:45am train. 105Y total. So Guilin it is!”
My next attempt at two tickets to Shaoshan for later in the day was met with defeat so we braved the bus station and secured tickets for the 1:30pm bus for 9Y with the help of a kid who offered his assistance - “our benefactor and friend!”.
Remember the bus ride? “Oh man, this bus has no windshield wipers!” as the rain began! The bus leaked, and a bag kept falling on your head. I spent the entire 2 hours desperately needing to pee, even tried to pee in an empty beer bottle surrounded by my rain poncho… good times.
[g] Was so hoping you had one of the Destination Chits! We had amazing strategies. Remember my Wander Stock (dis-used DDR flag pole) and how it helped to ward off the queue breakers? Sometimes I would just bang it on the ground to scare people. Anyway, our tenacity in the face of so much opposition was commendable. I read ahead in the journal tonight and have some good things for tomorrow and the next few days.
[t] Yes, the flag pole, your constant companion since Berlin. Wasn’t it left in the taxi at the dock in Guangzhou?