Natalie Goes to Japan

40 year old very married blonde woman having a midlife crisis who heads to Japan alone to follow her dreams. Be careful what you wish for ... you just may get it.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Old Time Train Travel

Wow, what an adventure! I woke up later than I planned and missed the 7:30 train to Luoyang. The girl told me the next one wasn't until 11. I told her No there was a train at 9:03, she said yes but only sleepers. No problem. The trip was 5 hours and I was on the middle berth, which gave me a strange view out the window. As soon as I got to Luoyang I went straight to the ticket window to get my next ticket. I had to stand in a line I wasn't sure was the correct line, and when I got to the guy 45 minutes later he spoke no English. The train I wanted was booked and after 10 minutes of pictionary I was booked on a much earlier train than I wanted, but at least I got a sleeper. So, I was there already 2 hours later than I wanted, and had to leave an hour and a half earlier. So it was quite the crunch to go visit the Longmen Grottoes. My book said the bus was outside the train station, but when I couldn't find it after 5 minutes I hailed a cab. I happened to pick a female cabbie. And we did some communicating, but it was really hard. But she was great, and friendly and smiley. Something I really haven't seen here in China. The Longmen Grottoes were wonderful . Thousands of Buddhist statues that have been carved into niches along the stone, just yards away from the river. Most of them were defaced during the Buddhism Purges a thousand years ago, some were actually stolen and have ended up in foreign museums, and then the Communists defaced some more. But the biggest ones (about 17 meters tall) are in perfect condition. And they were originally painted, but only slight hints of the paint remains, giving it an old glorious faded feeling. And even the ones that were defaced have a wonderful, beautiful feeling to them, almost ghostly. But I couldn't poke around long, and started to get nervous about catching my train. So I headed back quickly, picked up my luggage from the baggage check and hung out waiting for my train. Got a hard sleeper this time, which turned out just as good or better than the soft sleeper, as there was no door to the cabin. This meant no waking up everytime someone went to the bathroom and the cabin didn't get as hot and stuffy. I slept well enough and got off the train at 6 in the morning. Getting a taxi was a bear. It was nuts, crowded with lots of pushing and verbal threats being hurled around. But eventually I made it to the front of the line and got me a taxi. Gave the guy the hand written name and address of the new hostel I was staying at (Lotus Hostel) and he didn't look very sure of whether he could find it or not, but he was willing to try. And he did. He couldn't go up the alley (one way street), so he hopped out and asked someone to make sure the hostel was up the road. It was so nice of him to be worried about me. Got booked in, had a cup of Ginger Honey Tea, some breakfast and a hot shower. And then I was ready to start another day.


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