Somewhere on a crowded train

Ningqiang County, China

We spent over an hour and a half yesterday looking for bus number 610, which was supposed to take us to The Big Wild Goose Pagoda…did it exist? We walked from one bus stop to another around this massive roundabout but could only find 609 / 611 / and every other number except 610. This lovely lady and her son walked us to bus number 26 (2¥=50cents) put your money in the slot…and we were on our way! Then we negotiated the railway station…we arrived with hours to spare and had to line up to get through the first barrier. Then show passport and ticket to get through next section, luggage through the scanner and we were in. Luckily the trains are shown in Hindu Arabic numbers so after scanning the huge board for a while, asking two railway attendants for directions and being shuffled upstairs…we reached the waiting room. We sat for a couple of hours. As it drew closer to boarding time, the line began to grow again to pass through the ticket barrier. The poor guard was clicking every ticket at breakneck speed! We moved with the throng towards our carriage and miraculously found our bench seat…very cozy!during the night the ticket collector was selling sleeping berths…it was like a mad stampede or a frenzied sale…we stayed where we were! Fourteen hours sitting up is not comfortable…we need a bit more luxury. Anyway we survived, and the only hiccough was later when we were trying to get on the subway; the doors started closing on me as the attendant pushed my bag (and my body) through the narrowing gap…almost got me, but not quite!

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