My last stage will be to Guangyuan, Xi`an, Chungqing and Chengdu. With the train, that`s the cheapest and the most reliable, I think. The part to Guangyuan should be nice. I have this from Ray, an irishman, with whom I spoke a lot yesterday. He`s about my age and there are not so many of us.
So if I go during the day time, 4-5 hours, it fits that I take the night train from there and to Xi`an arriving in the morning. And later another night train to Chongqing.
I have a list of possible departures in my notebook and have decided to buy the ticket on my own at the train station.
I can say where I want to go and that it`s tomorrow. I can say the words for hard seat and point at the right train no. In my notebook and say if they have/have not.
So I set off on my bike. I park it at the entrance to the tunnel that goes beneath the road. Unfortunately the tunnel is blocked today. Well, there must be another one at the other corner. I get across, find it and go under. Here at the station there are a lot of fences that shall prevent people from crossing the area. If I were a chinese I`d probably just stepped over and reached the office in no time - but I`m not. So I walk ALL the way around.
The ticket office is a big room with 30 counters of which most are open. There are about 1000 people there waiting to buy a ticket. I find the counter with the sign: "For foreign Guest" and step into the line. Had there only been a few in front of me, people would have come from the sides pressing themselves in front. But here it looks like everybody`s waiting for his turn.
So I wait and advance moving slowly forward. This seems to be easy. Above the counter a sign tells, that it will close at 11.40, but that`s in half an hour - there should be time enough.
Time goes by - I step closer. Just as there are only 3 people in front of me a man comes pushing himself in front. In his hand he has a kind of passport with a red star on. Military. He seems to have certain rights. Then the old man in the line is at the counter. He seems not being able to decide. He`s going to Beijing I can see in the screen. A grandfather with his screaming grandson pushes on too, and an old lady. All are fighting to get a ticket before the counter closes it seems. The girl in front of me has had another girl to get a ticket at the next counter. Time passes... At last the old man decides. It took at least 5 min. The grandpa with the child has given up and is now fighting his way to the next counter. He doesn`t realize his sleeve has been covered with milk. And the last who was in front of me, apart from the old lady who is there now, has his ticket. Then the counter is closed and we can stand here waiting for 40 min. For it to open. But not I. I did my best but now I prefer to pay 5 yuan in a ticket office in the street.
No I forgot one. There was also an elderly man with a I’d-card with the five stars, the police, who had his ticket in front of us.
So this way ends my first trial to buy a train ticket at the station. I`m lucky to have the time today.
I go back and find the ticket office. It`s closed. A sign in the window tells they`ve gone for lunch? Apparently. So now I`m waiting for one o`clock so they`ll - maybe - be back.
Five minutes past one there`s still nobody and a quarter to two I meet the german on his way baqck from there. Still not open. He goes into the reception to get it there for 20 RMB.
I go with him but ask if I really have to pay 20 RMB to get a ticket for 47?
There is another ticket office to the left across the bridge. Not far. I go there on my bike and have the ticket.
And now I`ve tried to get rid of the earthquake dust in my trousers. They will hopefully dry overnight?