Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Train Ride

One day I'm going to write a song called "54 hours or a kick in the face", and the moral is going to be: just kick me in the nose and get it over with.
I left Chengdu on June 22nd for Urumqi, XinJiang and if you haven't been clicking on my carefully-inserted XinJiang-related hyperlinks in past posts, then you'll just have to google it now.
The train ride, as I mentioned was 54 hours, a.k.a three days long, and here's the kicker: no bed. Ouch. Literally. I did sleep some, on both nights, though, by putting on a windbreaker to protect from spit and other filth and crawling under the shared bench. It was sticky down there, and too tight to turn over, but all-in-all it worked ok. I was woken up by feet in my ribs and crawled out bleary-eyed to greet the same nosy passengers I'd spent the previous 20-x hours beside.
I got to Urumqi safe and sound, though, and was greeted with a new challenge: no foreigners allowed in any of the hotels. No joke, I got turned away outright time after time. Some people thought I may have been Uighur, but once they found out I was foreign, it was "don't ven talk to me, get out." Finally I found a slightly sketchy place from a guy who thought I was going to buy a travel package from him, and was pretty disappointed to find out I wasn't.

That's enough of that story. I had more adventures in xenophobia, but they're for e-mail friends only.
Are you an e-mail friend? Find out by e-mailing matthewstirlingvaughan at gmail dot com ! It's just that easy!

A post on exploring the desert metropolis of Urumqi is coming soon, and in the meantime, you can spoil the surprise by seeing pictures on my flickr:

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