Dear little baby laptop diary,
Here we are on our 8th long train journey of the summer but the very first part of our China adventure! For the next 30 hours, I look to you for support, for guidance, for refuge from our very very loud Canadian male cabinmates (I thought Canadians were polite loudness beyond all decibel recognition is not polite). But most of all, I look to you for distraction from the fact that the bathrooms might be closed for 6 full hours tonight, for customs and bogie (wheel) changing. I am not stress-free, I’ll say that.
Even better, there are two toilets at one end of the carriage instead of one at each end. So the attendants did not lock the one by them for their own use! Two toilets for me! Best of all, the other toiletless end of the carriage has an open area with the hot water station (no more samovars, of course, being out of Russia, but still endless hot water) and TWO SINKS! No more washing our cups in the toilet sink! No more waiting to pee while 4 people use the toilet just to brush their teeth! We’re flying high! And most importantly, the sinks can’t be locked, so with my newfound lack of inhibition cultivated in the Mongolian country tour, if need be, I will just pee in those open sinks. What are they gonna do about it?
While I wait for my fate to reveal itself, I am listening to our two Canadians TALK REALLY LOUDLY ABOUT ALL KINDS OF THINGS IN THEIR REALLY LOUD VOICES. They are nice enough but like shut the crap up already I’m trying to do literally anything but listen to your talk about Burning Man and how it’s the best thing in the world and ughhh you wish you were theeeere because it's just representative of everrrything gooood the worrrrld can beeee. SHUT UP I HATE YOU AND BURNING MAN IT SOUNDS TERRIBLE.
The scenery is hilarious. We are literally going through the desert right now, so there is nothing for miles and miles and miles. Just sand. Nothingness. It’s so dry out there. Damn I would hate to be stuck in the desert.
Omg this one guy’s voice is like the loudest you can ever imagine. How is this person human? I didn’t know regular human talking could occur at this decibel. If I were in my apartment I’d be calling the police about a noise violation like I used to do all the time in Philly about that stupid burrito place across the street like listen it's 3pm and you are NOT a club you are a burrito shop so stop thumping the bass like yo're a gangster no one wants to eat your food if they can feel the thumping in their chest too just chill the f.
So the loud boys like to pass the time on the train - on a THIRTY HOUR TRAIN - by playing 20 Questions with each other. You know, when you think of something, anything, and the other person has 20 questions to ask before guessing what it is. Usually children who don't know what to do with their lives play this. Usually people pick objects they can see or something. Do you wanna know what their first question to each other has invariably been? Are you even ready for this because I still am not. The very first question they ask each other every round is, "Is it a product of modernity?" jigga WHAT?????? IS IT A PRODUCT OF MODERNITY? Who DOES THAT! START WITH 'IS IT AN OBJECT'' FOR FUCKS SAKE.
I do not like them. And I do not like that apparently all Chinese attendants will be constantly smoking. I know that I am a broken record of complaint in these posts but I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experiences.
Wanna hear the funniest thing? These two idiots are going to Beijing to catch a flight TO NORTH KOREA! Oh they are going to get eaten ALIVE by Kim and his friends. I mean honestly they need to tone it down, for real; it's dangerous to go there and not know how to behave in civilized society (Kim and I am civilized society). Soooo many men in uniform are going to be like SHUT UPPPPP but in Korean. Godspeed to you two foolios, godspeed.
Okay so we are in the middle of the customs time. I am very thirsty but I was able to pee right before the designated time for exit customs. The Mongolians pored over every single page of our passports just because we want to leave. I really don't understand exit customs. You already let us in, just let me out please. It took a few hours and at 8:30pm I heard some commotion down by the bathrooms and guess what, someone else indeed had to pee! Other people are human too! A lady got the attendant to open a bathroom before Chinese customs officials boarded and the line grew down the whole carriage. Woohoo!
Chinese customs officials do not smile, but they do bark. We got stamped through though, and then the train started moving back and forth between stations, like long 10 minute rides back and forth. Something was clearly not going right. Finally we went into a building we had passed 4 times - yes, straight into it- and saw that all the carriages of our train had been separated and were kind of stacked sideways to each other, so we could look from our window into another carriage's cabins. Privacy violation! It was so weird behind on a train but being inside this random warehouse. And then, all of a sudden, we realized our car had been raised like 15 feet in the air, without us feeling it! Chinese machinery is sophisticated! (Made in Japan?)
At about 10:30pm, a French lady nearby got the attendant to open the toilet. I don't even care that this lady was also smoking, I love her now. I was going to be okay. Dehydrated and exhausted and concerned about what the crap was going on outside, but okay.
But we thought by then that the bogie change was over. Why were we still in the warehouse? Where...wait where were all the other carriages? We could no longer see ANY of the rest of our train, like they had regrouped and departed to continue the journey and forgotten to add car #4 back in. Ermmmm guys? GUYS? CAN ANYONE TELL US WHAT'S GOING ON?
By this point, the screamers and Z had all gone to sleep, while I waited for a chance to do Final Pee (TM) before sleep. I thought it was coming - I was so tired! But the clang clang clang of the bogie machines still rocked our carriage back and forth - while these silly boys just SLEPT. I wanted to scream how can you people be sleeping through this I'm literally having to hold onto the railings! By 12:45am, we had left the warehouse but just as little as possible - we were parked outside it. I honestly think that we were waiting for the train to come back and collect us and add us back in. I have no evidence of this - I probably just couldn't see the rest of the train from my window's angle - but come on what else would be taking until 1 in the morning!
Finally I really had to pee and wanted to sleep so bad that I resorted to playing dirty with the attendant: I went to his cabin, opened the door, and put my hands together and said 'toilet, please??' He pointed to his watch and said "Must wait! Must wait!" I said "please emergency" and he again said "must wait!" So, I dug a tampon out of my pocket that I had dug out of my bag and held it up for him and said 'NEED TO USE'. He SHUDDERED and instead of being forced to think about lady problems for any longer, he hurried to open the toilet for me. Guys! I successfully discovered a surefire way to always get the men to unlock the toilets! Make them super uncomfortable by showing them a tampon that you're not going to even use (don't use tampons at night, PSA)! New train motto is AHATIMP (always have a tampon in my pocket) and I will be stress-freeeee saaaailing awayyyyyy hoorayyy for fragile masculinity!
In the morning, at about 7 or 8, I heard the SUPER LOUD CANADIANS (seriously they can't be Canadian I think they are lying) rustling and opened my eyes, which I shouldn't have done because that triggered the extra loud one to immediately announce that the attendants wanted to collect all the sheets. "Fuck that", I said, glaring at him, and turned over for more sleep. I am so in charge now.
The landscape starting looking undeniably like the China I was so eager to see, with misty mountains and lots of buildings and smog (well I wasn't excited about the smog) and just so much interesting scenery. The mountains were incredible! I'm so excited to see so much of this country. We will soon arrive for five days in Beijing. Stay tuned! And let me know if you hear anything in the news about two Canadian men being captured in NK.