My first Chinese train

Sleeping on a Chinese train proved to be a bit more difficult than I expected. I was hot then cold then hot then cold, then there is the moment where you wake up in the middle of the night and realize you're in China en route to some place that only days ago you never knew existed, with no real idea of what to expect when you arrive. Plus it might have been raining, or maybe that was just the noises of the train.

We arrived at half past seven in the morning, but I got out of bed shortly before six in the morning, mostly to brush my teeth and stare out the window. The countryside was beautiful, similar to Korea in many ways, but also more industrious at first glance: Whereas the Korean landscape was beautiful but also often empty, people in China were up and working at not yet six in the morning, already carrying things here and there at construction sites or in the fields, or bent over in the rice paddies farming rice, or riding bicycles, or maybe just smoking cigarettes and watching the train pass.

I traveled on railway car number nine, berth number eight, soft sleeper from Shenzhen to Guilin, the only ticket type remaining, and also the most luxurious available (nearly identical in design and function to that of second-class on a Russian train, which I never took but saw a number of times.

Two of the people sharing my cabin (the third, a pregnant woman from Mongolia). On the left is Elke, and on the right is Amand. After Elke remarked that my name is unusual, Elke was surprised to learn that her chosen name is also unusual. They are eating Kung Pao chicken with white rice, which happens to be my favorite Chinese meal.