Tuesday, June 20, 2006

China Stories Pt. 14: Home to Beijing

Bob and I were going hard sleeper on the return trip to Beijing. The hard sleeper was different from soft sleepers in a couple of notable ways. The soft sleepers had 2 bunks on each wall, whereas the hard sleepers had three. The hard sleepers did not have a volume knob for the dreaded loudspeaker. And the hard sleepers were not enclosed in a compartment - they were open to the passageway that ran the length of the car.

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On the way back, we didn't really want to chat with people - not as much as we had on the way out. Now, we didn't have a door to close for privacy. Fortunately, sleeping or pretending to sleep worked pretty well.

Once again, we were graced by sharing our trip with a couple of characters. This time it was an eight year-old boy. He was on his way to Shandong, where his parents were in the opera. At age eight, he was already a decent Peking opera singer.

The budding opera star in our train car.

He sang for us, and man, he was actually good. Not only could he sing, but he had the facial expressions, the gestures...the whole package.

He also wrote a poem for me, about my "yellow beard."

We shared our "bay" in the car with a family, including a cute little girl. She was made no less cute when she sat, staring at us and smiling, while gnawing on a chicken's foot. At her dad's urging, she offered Bob and I each a foot. We declined, politely. I may have said something about not being able to eat chicken for dietary reasons. (My language skills must be improving! I'm becoming a liar!)

The journey passed uneventfully. The biggest adjustment was not being able to control the rattling speaker that helpfully announced anything and everything even remotely noteworthy along the way. Regardless of the time of day.

Returning to Beijing did really feel like coming home. It seemed relatively familiar. It was nice to see my classmates, whom I had known for less than a month. I was thrilled to be reunited with the remainder of my belongings in my room. This was especially the case with my clean clothes. (I think that made everyone happy, in fact.)

Bob and I had had an incredible trip. Nearly everything I had experienced, from morning to night, was new. It was exhilarating. Part of the thrill was what we experienced; and part of it came from knowing I could DO something like this. It was a good feeling.

But now I was happy to throw on my old familiar (and relatively stink-free) clothes and relax. As an added bonus, my roommate Chad was not yet back from his holiday trip, so I had some time to myself.

That night I thought about the trip, about home, and about getting back to studying.

And I slept very, very well.


At 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had all this stuff to do at work this morning but instead I innocently came across your blog and then got sucked into reading your well-written travels in China. So much for productivity; thanks for a great read. Looking forward to more.

At 5:51 PM, Blogger merideth said...



At 12:10 PM, Anonymous hazel said...

Busy much? If not, continue the story! I am planning my trip now...


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