A shock to the system
25.02.2009 - 27.02.2009 2 °C
Leaving Beijing was both a difficult and easy thing to do. Id grown accustomed to many aspects of the city, it began to feel familiar, which was nice being so far from home. BUt at the same time I was eager to push on to the next destination on the trip, a traditional old walled town called Pingyao. From what I'd read and also from what Id heard off someone in our Hostel in Beijing it was going to be a treat. So we boarded our first long distance, overnight train in china, and it was quite the experience, unlike anything ive really done before. A massive 18 carriage train with bunk beds in some carriages for the overnights split into 'hard-sleepers' and 'soft-sleepers'. We got stuck with hard-sleepers after naively thinking we could turn up at the train station and simply get a soft-sleeper (apparently very hard to get), the hard sleepers are pretty grim. Sets of three bunks, bottom, middle and top and we also got stuck at the top with no space to breathe, with Jen being as claustrophobic as she is was not a nice experience for her, but we got through to the other side.
Pingyao was far from the mecca Id pictured in my head, instead what awaited us was a desolate, depressing place that I still havent really gotten over. Its clearly a tourist town and this being the off season you can kind of imagine the atmosphere there. Picture a traditional English seaside town, Brighton, Skegness, Weston or something of that ilk in the depths of a cold depressing December and you can kind of get an idea of the feel the place has. The town inside the walls was actually very pretty with traditional Chinese streets but the place was deserted and devoid of life, and outside the walls was like a US slum from the 70's. We originally booked three nights but only ended up staying one. Which was a shame really as the hotel was absolutely gorgeous. a traiditonal courtyard place albeit with some very peculiar young female staff (growing up in a place like that would do strange things to a person I imagine). I took a few picture of the hotel, but I couldnt bring myself to even get my camera out in town. Im making it out to be like some kind of living hell, which it wasnt. It just felt like an incredibly sad place, and I wasnt expecting it.
Its been hard lifting myself out of this little rut/depression, all ive been able to think about the last couple of days is getting the hell out of China and getting to Thailand, ive found myself tired of the constant staring of people, the constant spitting and the fact that the everywhere weve been looks like its in the middle of construction, but im in Xi'an now, the sun has been shining and its actually relatively mild rather than the freezing weather that weve had the entire trip so far. Im feeling pretty good, we may cut some things out in China and head to Thailand early but im looking foward to heading South for some of chinas greeness, hills and mountains, which have been sorely lacking so far.
I miss you all.