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Rolling to Aksu


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From Korla to Akesu,
August 18th - 19th 2012

It was the night before Id-ul-Fitr, the end of Ramadhan. The part of Korla where I had been this evening must be rousing by now, I imagined. On the contrary, the railway station was quiet. It's very contradictory to the other railway stations I had been in China, not to mention the railway station in Turpan. Maybe everyone is busy preparing for the feast with their family and friends.

"Let me help you," said a lady next to me when we were climbing the stairs to the platform.

"Oh thank you. Sorry to trouble you. Máfan nǐ."

"Méishì, méishì."

As we walked to the train, she asked me, "Where are you going to?"

I thought she meant to which cabin. "Qù..." I answered, and she walked away.

Oh, no! "Qù" means "go". But, I didn't mean to tell her to go away. It is just that I couldn't figure out the sentence. I wanted to say I'm going to cabin number bla, bla, bla, and was thinking of what to say after "qù". Since I only said that one word, she must have thought I was asking her to leave me alone. Making matters worse, the word "go" in Mandarin is pronounced in the forth tone which really makes it sound like "Go!" Haiyaaa...

Dear gentle friend, if one day you somehow happen to come across this blog, please do accept my apology.

Scenery speaking, there was nothing special about this train journey. Even if there was, it wouldn't be visible anyway. My train left Korla at 23:15 and arrived in Aksu at 8:15 AM, Beijing time.

However, this was a train ride that made me dance in mind. If I were a kid, I would have danced, jumped up and down, for real. A double-decker train!!

No wonder there was the word 上 (up) after 车 (cart). Usually it's just 车.

When I was in Japan, I so longed to ride on the double-decker train, 寝台車. While in Japan, I had traveled all kinds of train including the bullet train, 新幹線, because I had a pass. But that pass didn't cover the sleeping cart 寝台車 which was a double-decker. I couldn't afford the double-decker. Every time I saw that greenish sleeping cart, I always wondered what it would be like sleeping up there.

I didn't know China also has a double-decker train, even until I purchased this ticket. Therefore when I reached the platform and saw that it was a double-decker train, it was like a super big surprise lying in front of me.

So my cabin was on the second story, as written 车上 on my ticket. The problem with a suitcase is getting up to the second story, because the staircase is narrow and rather steep. However, for a long life dream to come true, I call it worth the effort. The kind lady's cabin who helped me carry my suitcase and whom I told to go away by accident, was on the same row as my cabin. When I passed her cabin, I smiled at her, but she ignored me as if she didn't know me. Ah, how I feel bad for that unintentional "Qù!"

The interior of the train was almost like a hotel. I had a cozy and clean bed. I shared my cabin with a guy, and an elderly couple. The guy slept on the bunk above me, and the couple were on the 2 bunks across me. They had a cute granddaughter them. Their son, the girl's Dad, slept in another cabin.

The little girl was about 3 years old. She was pretty and had curly black hair. She sat on my bunk next to me, but her grandma told her to get up. "You may not sit there," said Grandma.

"Why?" the little girl asked.

"Because that's not your bed. That's her bed."

Since then she didn't even lay a finger on my bed. Good girl.

At first when I saw this little girl in my cabin, I was worried I wouldn't be able to sleep. Previously, on the way from Jiayuguan to Turpan, there was a little girl with her granny. This little girl, about 5 years old, was a complete chatterbox. Every time I met her, she was chattering. While her grandma filled in her bottle with hot water, she stood behind chattering but with a serious look. After her bottle was full, she tagged along her grandma through the corridor, still chattering. It was like the only time she paused and took a breath was when she said, "Duì bùduì?" ("Isn't that so?")

I heard her grandma mumbled carelessly, "Duì, duì." ("Right, right.")

She seemed satisfied with that and continued chattering. In the afternoon, when I went 'cabin-sightseeing' in the train, I saw this little chatterbox sitting in the corridor with her legs dangling. Some adults, seeming like cabin neighbors, surrounded her, and watch her chattering! I didn't hear her ask "Duì bùduì?" though. Maybe this time she regarded that everyone should agree with her.

Such a chatterbox is really cute. But to have one in my cabin, is a different thing. I was afraid this pretty girl with curly hair in my cabin now, would be like that chatterbox on my way to Turpan.

My worry proofed to be totally wrong. Far from being a chatter box, when her grandparents urged her to talk the her Mom through her Dad's cellphone, she just held the cellphone in her palm which seemed smaller than the cellphone.

"Talk to Mama," said her Grandma.

She just looked up at everyone's face one by one with an innocent child's look, as if she was wondering why she should talk to Mama, and what to say.

Grandma said again, "Tell mama: 'I'll arrive tomorrow.' "

"I'll arrive tomorrow," said little grand daughter, and then looked up at the adult faces above her, one by one again. Her look was like, "Done. Is that right?"

Her Dad took the cellphone from her hand. Grandma carried her to the lower bunk. They both lied down, ready to sleep. Daddy, sitting in the corridor, chatted with Mom through the phone. Grandpa climbed up the upper bunk, ready to sleep also. Soon after, the lights were turned off. Good night, everyone!

That had been my happiest train journey, from Korla to Aksu.

Posted by automidori 22:41 Archived in China Tagged train china xinjiang korla aksu

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