June 9, 2008

train ride to guangzhou

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:21 pm by changisme

The train ride to Guangzhou was more than a money saving option, half as much as the plane ticket. It’s also quite eye opening. I got on through the relatviely new train station from Beijing. i remember it was buit some time around 10 years ago. It was a big thing back then, but I had never been inside. It has tons of places to sell food and wide halls packed with people, more lively than the new airport. We got there through metro and then a cab, and the cab driver says that this not a very satisfactory project, it was under some kind of problem and fixing all the time. Now beijing has about 4 or 5 train station, and they are rebuilding one of them. Train is afterall theprimary form of transportation in the country.
My bed on the train is on the bottom of 3 bunks, and each cubicle has 6 beds in total. In my cubicle there was a young girl like me who works in Zhuhai, near Guangzhou and 3 young men who is going on a business trip for some constructive work in a golf course, and the last was a mother with a young girl of 4. The girl is so cute, with a pony tail on the top of her head,a nd she talked so much even though she was train-sick. Everybody brough dood, like cucumbers, tomatos, grapes, bowled noodles and etc… we shared all of them except probably the noodles. I loved our cucumbers, proudly, mine was the best! I hadn’t had such good cucumbers for at least 4 years! They are soooo crispy and with pointy goosebumps and yellow flowers, totally beat the soggy north american cucumbers. No wonder I stopped liking them when I left.
The people who take the train for this long  are usually a little different from the people I’m used to. People like my aunt would never take the train.  Chatting with them make interesting conversations. They tell history from a more Chinese angle I feel. They also have their perspective of things outside of their own world, which is very media induced. It’s not necessarily narrow, because the media since the internet era is quite informative, but you could tell, that it lacks certain aspect. It’s not to say that it’s simply that they hadn’t been to the west, even for my mother anf athers friends who haven’t been outside of the country much, they seem to get a different perspective.
One more thing interesting about the train ride was that, we got to see the landscape changing. Near Beijing, it was dry and more prairy like. There were large plains of golden wheat fields and hardly any mountains far far away. Tthen after we crossed the yellow river, which was surprisingly narrow and calm for a torrent season, the land became green and moist. The wheat had been harvested in this area already, vegetables or corn have been planted. The farmers on the train told me that, usually some people buy a harvesting trackter and start working for farms from the south, as the wheat ripen first there, they work their way up north for months till they hit the North Eastern Three provinces, and by then, the tractors would be on the verge of their death and they would sell them for a very cheap price, together with the money they earn in harvesting other people’s wheat, less their train ride back south, that’s who much they earn for the harvesting season.
This year, China also is on food shortage as to other countries. The government give the farmers more substidies than previous years. Even before this year, these farmers told me, growing wheat and rice don’t really earn you any money at all, but you get enough substities, that iyou sometimes find it worth while growing. It’s mainly because each household  o person gets so little land, and rice and wheat is just so cheap. China import a lot of rice and wheat. I wonder how much she does from Canada. This year, Australia and Berma and  Japan refuses to export these things. I wonder what the rest of the world think of this kinda… behavior, it’s really a little mean, expecially since Australia has so much land and so few people.
The sun set before we hit the long river, but the next morning, when we woke up, after a very comfortable sleep due to the rocking motion of the train ride, we saw the ponds and rolling hills of southern china. The little houses and rich gren leaves mde one feel that the whole place is nourished by Guan Yin’s touch. "Those stories like the White Snake has to come from place like this, " A train mate said, "If it came from Beijing, we would just have dried snake soup!"
So there, I arrived in Guangzhou, where it’s significantly more humid than Bejijing. It was hot even after a shower in early morning. My skin  will probably take on great texture after this.
The city is pretty dirty, but very lively. I met up with Ivy and Yoni at the hostel, where the bunks and bathroom were nice and clean. Most of all, we hve AC!!
We went to the market, where they sold all kinds of dried or fresh sea-stuff, like sea stars, sea horse, scorpians… they are all for soup  making or medicine. This is the part that the south, especially cantonese peopel, differ from the north. We don’t really have this … eating almost anything and everything type of culture, but here, oh gosh, and there are so many people bying and selling. There’re also a lot of pets right next to the exhotic eats… I had a hard time distinguishing the to be cooked turtles and the pet turbles.
After that,w e went to Beijing Ave, which is a HUGE shopping district. There are so many people, it’s not even funny. It’s also because it was a holiday, so people where really toes to heels. I had to really control myself not to buy anything due to my trip ahead, but it was very temping indeed. Onkay, I did buy a pair of sandles and a little magnifier, but I thought that was justified!!
Yoni and Ivy wanted to go to Subway for dinner. I couldn’t believe them!!!! I really couldn’t. In a food heaven like Guangzhou, you go to SUBWAY sandwiches???? Well, they are two people, and I’m only one , what can I say. There were lots of foreigners at the SUBWAY, I guess if you’re in China for long enough, you miss sandwiches.
On our way back to the hostel, we saw more lively streets. Small clumps of night food markets and people sitting around to get some evening coolness and socializing, thought.. the evening is not cooler according to my standards. There were people sellilng spicy food and skewers and all kinds of things. We bought some Lychi, which were pretty good.
Today, we are flying to Yunnan, where it’s supposed to be cooler due to the higher elevation. I look forward to Lijiaing!

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