Previous entry Next entry

Andy’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 25 Feb 2007

Location: Kunming, China


I travelled to Kunming via sleeper train.

In China all bags must pass through an X-ray machine like at airports. Instead of a single-file queue i found myself in a stampede of people all trying to place their bags on the converyor belt at once. It was absolute chaos as people pushed and shoved, barged and elbowed, with no sense that queueing in an orderly fashion might be preferable and quicker. One guy attempted to push in front of me. As the saying goes, "when in Rome...", so i elbowed him in the ribs, so he elbowed the woman next to him, and she inturn elbowed the guy next to her beginning a painful chain reaction. By this point people were shouting, getting angry and becoming thoroughly violent. It was manic, reminding me of the launch of Tamigotchi's or the annual January sales. But this was to have your baggage checked. Insane.

I was pleasantly surprised with the train which was clean, modern-ish and comfortable. Unfortunately it is a law of the nature that wherever i sit on a train it will be nearest to the perosn making excessive amounts of noise. The train to Kunming would not disappoint. If eating loudly ever became an Olympic sport (and quite honestly, why shouldn't it be when Curling is acknowledged?) the man sitting opposite would undoubtedly win gold. His trick was to keep his mouth open while chewing and to sufer from over-active saliva glands.

I ventured for a look around the train and returned to find another man flicking through one of my books. Many people in China grew up under very different circumstances to those in the West, with cramped living conditions and very different notions of privacy and personal space/belonings. I just smiled, he was simply curious and had not meant to be intrusive. Moments like these are common when travelling in different cultures, and are more interesting than annoying.