rt2k6 - Korea to Britain the hard way

2006-03-18 09:19

No time in Nanjing

Got my camera back from Nikon yesterday, as advertised. Had decided to go to Nanjing to see the memorials to the 300,000-odd Chinese murdered in the Nanjing Massacre, which the Japs still refer to as the 'Nanjing Incident', and fail to mention in their history textbooks - along with similar occurrences in Korea, Siberia and Manchuria in the early part of the century.

This is the slow train, and was due in at about 0100, but we didn't get settled until 0300. Hard seat was full of peasants, heading home from the city to the country; a bit of a shock after Shanghai's affluence and relative sophistication. An ugly, hard looking woman was breastfeeding a fussy boy of about walking age. She stood up, and held the baby out from her, and while still sucking milk he pissed directly onto the floor of the train. Once finished, she sat down again, and nobody batted an eyelid.

Walking from the station towards the lights, we were hassled more than usual by hotel touts and taxi drivers, and were turned away from two or three hotels outright - because we were whitey, ostensibly, though I expect it was more to do with the fact that they didn't want to pay the touts, who'd come in with us for commission they hadn't earnt. A huge room with four single beds; Deb found bugs in two of them, and it was right next to the railway line so we didn't sleep well. We got moving about lunchtime today. Our next stop is Wuyi Shan, but there's only one train daily from Nanjing, and it leaves at 14:22, so we decided to skip Nanjing and head straight to Wuyi Shan rather than spending another night idle. The memorials and so on will have to wait until another time. We need to be in Xiamen (way down south in Fujian province) by monday or tuesday, so we can apply for visa extensions, which take about a week, so there really wasn't time to fuck about for a whole day.

This looks to be our longest train so far - 14:22 until about 10:30 tomorrow morning; 20 hours or so. Fortunately, we have two bottom bunks and a middle, and therefore the table and most of the compartment to ourselves. Bought a (cold) roasted duck and some flatbread, that and tea is breakfast and lunch today. The chinese have a great plan for tea, which I've adopted most wholeheartedly - everyone carries around a jar with tea leaves in; when it gets low, they refill it, with hot or cold water depending on weather and availability. This place really does run on the stuff.

We're heading south, and the weather's getting warmer and more spring-like the further we go. Trees are green, and the willows along the banks of rivers are especially springy. There are flowers and birds, and last night it rained. We're heading well down into the subtropics, so I threw out the feather and down lining of my jacket in Shanghai, and I'll be surprised if I need it again before Tibet.