Did my mobile phone stopped the alarm clock service or did i set it wrong? Anyway, i should get up at 5 and i get up at 7, a quarter of an hour before the train leaves to Beijing. Thats a catastrophe, ai run out and i’m lucky to find a taxi quickly. I arrive 2 minutes before the train leaves, and it does leave on time. I had to buy first class, the second class was fully booked weeks ago. But it wasnt that terrible, the ride takes one and half day but it isnt more expensive than a 6 hour train ride in Western Europe or the US – if you buy the ticket in Mongolia. If you buy it in London or Moscow, it is much more expensive. In the second class there are 4 beds per ca bin, in the first class 2 beds and an armchair. I sit down on the armchair and i’m quite happy that i’m alone, but soon a mongolian student comes in, and 5 minutes later the conductor brings another mongolian student. Hey, whats this supposed to be??? For the first time in my life i travel in the first class and it is already overcrowded? With 2 mongolians, who you cant talk to, unless you’re a mongolian yourself?
The train goes thru the Gobi desert, which is quite empty. Well, the weekend is arriving. Who makes a tour around here says that it is quite interesting and varied, but the route with the train isnt that exciting, at least as long as we have daylight. At the border in the middle of the night we have to wait 4 hours: all the waggons are separated, lifted and get a new undercarriage to be able to move in China. The chinese immigration is absolutely no problem, you give your passport while you’re waiting for the whole operation and get it back half an hour later, no questions asked. Millions of times easier than going thru a border of the United States, the biggest democracy of the world. And now the mongolian student is sleeping in my bed, i throw him out (from my bed, not from the train). I payd for the first class, he probably didnt even pay for the second class. In these countries they never sell tickets if there is no seat or bed.
The train passes by some chinese villages with fewer than 5 million inhabitants and not more than a few hundred skyscrapers – the chinese builder doesnt wonder how tall the skyscraper will be and what color it shall have, he wonders if he’s going to build one or two dozens of them. Den we go from the plateau down to the plains a long a river thru the mountains, a nice landscape, then for an au a an half we pass skyscrapers, factories and arrive in Beijing, the capital of the country where everything comes from nowadays, except good music and soccer. I ask a guy at a counter where i can change money, he asks back “change money?” and points to the bank at the corner where i have to go to. He’d like to say i have to cross the bridge, but he doesnt know that word yet. Quite a few chinese nowadays can speak a sort of broken english or a few words, at least in de capital. Now they say ‘baibai’ when they leave, they have learned that one can communicate with sign language and they even understand better foreigners that speak wrong chinese, which is almost everytime the case.
Beijing has many impressive buildings, bold architecture, but outside of the city center thare are old chinese areas with millions of very narrow alleyways, chinese slums so to say. All relatively clean, just a bit chaotic. And now i sit on the terrase of the bar of a small but fine hotel and hear brazilian music, sung by a brazilian woman who sings in portuguese, english, french, spanish and japanese. And all that in China – they’re making quantic leaps here.
There are many beautiful women here, it is crazy. China has the most beautiful women in de world, which isnt difficult considering how many people live here. Still, even in relative numbers they have a very good average, unless of course you belong to the people who never think east asian women are beautiful. One half of the women have a ponytail, a half of the remaining half have that Richard Lionheart’s hairstyle, and the other half of the half have everything. And you just see big cars. If you dont have enough money, you move around with public transport, with a bike, an e-bike or a scooter. The next step is a big car, if you can afford it. But it seems nobody wants to be seen with a Ford Fiesta or a small Fiat.
I walk into a chinese fastfood restaurant, the Hot Pot. I just want to eat a bite – i think it is good to eat at least twice a day, i dont know what i’m gonna get in North Korea. In de ing lish translation of the menu it is written ‘hot soup’, and thats a good idea. The waitress writes it down and points to the meat dishes – what do i want? No, i just want the soup! She points to the vegetables. No, i just want a little bite, she points a gen to the meat dishes, i end up ordering something with meat. Den shi points to the vegetables – listen, cant you leave me alone? I wanted one course, now i have 2, but 3 is definitely too much! Eventually she gives up and goes to the kitchen. And what are these funny black panels on the table? They have some strange signs and some chinese writing, are they decorative? Den a waiter brings the pot and puts it on de panel and turns on de oven – oh, it is an oven… the pot has just the soup, den i get ham rolls, two plates with dips and a scoop with holes. I put some rolls on mai plate, the soup over it an den de sauces. I’m almost finishing to eat, the waitress comes by and laughs aloud, den de chinese guys at the other table too. The soup wasnt a soup, it was a sauce to cook the ham rolls, an den take them out with the scoop, den de dips. Well, it tasted all right anyway, even if the ham rolls were a bit icy.