Xiamen Travel Blog› entry 2 of 129 › view all entries
It's an ominous sign that while waiting in an enormous line for my bus ticket to Shantou in Shenzhen, I somehow lose my passport. I plan to replace it in Shanghai. Not much in Shantou, but after a grueling bus ride from hell on some of the worst roads imaginable, I'm happy to be anywhere off the bus. No sleep at all on the overnight portion. There is a large make-shift lever attached to the steering wheel that controls the loudest airhorn imaginable. He uses it constantly - no more than 20 seconds apart. It's like trying to sleep though an air raid. In fact, every vehicle on the road is similarly equiped and prolific with horn usage. Another, slightly nicer ride to Xiamen.
While wandering around Xiamen, I run into a student who basically decides to follow me around the city. I think he's quite excited to meet a foreigner who can speak his language. He meets me again outside my hostel the next morning and shows me around the city. I eventually get a sob story from him about not having any money and needing to get to Nanchang. Being nice, I get him a train ticket with me.
The train ride from Xiamen to Nanchang is a gruelling 18 hours. We traveled in the "hard seat" class, which is synonymous with cattle car. Wood benches with backs that are perfectly vertical and it was so packed that I couldn't move from the one position that allowed me to fit in the seats in the first place. Yet we are the lucky ones. There are people without seats flung all over the floor around us. It is hell on wheels and I promise never to torture myself like this again.