Train Travel

I caught the train to Beijing last night, a soft sleeper… that means you can live/sleep with 3 complete strangers for 15 hours in an area of 3 square meters… it becomes particularly interesting if your three companions are middle aged men who like to sit up all night smoking and gambling…Actually I have not yet had that pleasure… my ‘travel companions’ (to Shanghai) have been a young couple with a hyperactive 7 year old – David, who proved to be an excellent Chinese tutor… and (Beijing) two students who sat up giggling and whispering shyly most of the night (the throes of a budding romance?)

I really enjoy the opportunity to ‘met the locals’ and learn a little Chinese… so I make my way straight to the dining car … this allows you to order some quite good food, drink a bottle of local beer (yes I have reacquired my taste for beer – the local beer ‘Tsingtao’ is made a brewery in the coastal town of Qingtao in Shandong province, using local spring water – so I’m pretending its like Cascade – only much cheaper; a long neck costs 2 Yuan (12 Yuan = 2 dollars)