|Managed to get our washing dry and pack ready for our train trip. The others head off to see Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. We meander around and end up at a park that includes the Temple of Heaven. We did not enter the temple area but remain in a bush like section. Just unwind and watch the Chinese families and couples relax on their Sunday off.
The field full of small mauve herbs and other plants that looked like dandelions that the locals were picking.
There were a number of radio antennae in one small area built of three or four saplings tied together one a top another.
Back to the hotel at 4.30 and taxis to the Beijing West Railway Station. Unfortunately each of the three taxis drop us off at different areas so it was some time before Jenny finds us all and it was a good thing our train was delayed.
Interesting watching the reaction of some of the others in our tour to the rigours of travelling “hard class” and getting used to having only 2 squat toilets for about 60 passengers. For young seasoned travellers they seem strangely averse to travelling like a local. This is not something we have come across in our past tours.
Eventually we all settle down. For those who did not follow our last trip, there are no cabins in hard class only open sections. Each section has six bunks, three on each side. Along one side is a corridor with tiny tables and dickey seats. No doors. We are sharing our section with Jenny, our guide, an older Chinese couple and a young Chinese student called Lucy. Lights out at 10pm.
Most sleep well, in the morning we realise that the train is travelling in the opposite direction so must have been some shunting during the night.
We spend the time watching the scenery, reading and chatting to our Chinese neighbours. Lucy is travelling to Xian to sit an English exam. If she passes then she can apply to foreign universities. She is studying environmental administration. David chats to the other man with Lucy acting as interpreter. His wife is very reticent and does not join in although she is willing to pose in a photo – requested by her husband along with an autograph from David.
Later in the trip another young student joins us to practice his English. 21 years of age and quite cheeky. He is studying traffic engineering.
We arrive in Lanzhou a couple of hours late. Drop our bags at the hotel and out to dinner. There is no pork on the menu because the area has a large Muslim population. We try to access an internet café but are met with blank looks. We round up Jenny and she clears the way for us. Probably a couple of hundred computer outlets.