The last train I took in China was from Changsha to Guilin . There were no more seats in the train I wanted but I got sold a ticket anyway with a warning that I would have to stand during the entire journey - 6 hours! I was not the only one without a seat, many people were standing. So many of them were standing inside the carriage that I had to stand between two wagons which is the worst spot ever. Men who stood beside me lighted cigarette after cigarette and filled the whole space with smoke, people were coming and going to get to the bathroom and a woman was going back and forth to sell fruits but my bag was inevitably on the way so I had to drag it each time she was coming. I had been on that train for only 10 minutes and I was already sick of it! I was never going to have enough patience to stand there for six hours, I would have killed someone! Luckily a Chinese guy felt sorry for me and asked me to follow him. He got me a seat by asking another man to get up so I could get his seat! This guy was a student In his early twenties years called Young. His English was not great but enough to communicate with me for several hours. I think he was impressed to speak with me : " I have never spoken to a foreigner " he told me. It seems that he was not the only one as every on around was just stirring at me like if I was some kind of zombie from another planet !
I talked to him a little about my trip and he told me that one of his dreams was to go to Australia , he taught me to write a few words in Chinese (ideograms ) and he even gave me a Chinese name. He also told me that in China you're not calling someone by his first name but by his last name , which I had not yet noticed after two months! 5 hours later a voice announced my destination. The boy took the red bracelet that he was wearing around his wrist to tie it around mine. He then told me that red was a symbol of happiness and luck in China. In exchange I took a small orange stone out of my bag, I had found in Central Australia and I had kept it since. I gave it to him wishing him to realize his dream one day. For once I was the one asking to take a picture. I handed my camera to the man sitting in front of us . I lifted my bag to put it on my shoulders, Young shook my hand with an incredible smile and I left the train.
Created: Nov 19, 2013
In China, there is another class of train ticket called "no seat", same price with the "hard seat" ticket. That's due to the large population of China. Even we have "no seat" tickets, sometimes it's still not enough, even far from enough esp. during the Chinese spring festival when everyone tries whatever they can to go back their hometown to gather with their family. Some ppl call it "human migration competition held once a year". It's crazy- ppl fight to book the train ticket online the second when the tickets are released. No joking, the tickets of some hot lines all gone in a couple of mins. When I say "a couple of mins" here, it really means 2 or 3 mins. And some ppl take a bus, some ppl drive a car, some ppl ride a bike, some ppl even fly out of China first as a transfer...
Back to the lady with a trolley selling fruits and snacks. Bear this in mind- everytime they will blow your mind more! Even when you can't move your foot to find a comfortable position because you will probably lose your original spot and have to stand by one foot, they can always make a way, back and forth!!!
Really happy to know this Young guy got you a seat for you. That was an interesting encounter :)