Thomas the tanked engineOctober 19, 2016 in China ⋅ ☁️ 21 °C
Argh, If I take an overnight train again it would be too soon. Shame that I have another 4 nights of overnight trains to complete on our journey home. Luckily for me the time between them and now is a lot longer than our last rendezvous on an overnight train. Anywho, after a night of broken sleep in between train hoots and clickety clacks, I awoke instantly alarmed to our Chinese cabin man standing over my bed with his arm over my face attempting to plug his cellphone charger into the socket adjacent to my bed.
Even though exhaustion was seeping through my pores, there was no getting back to sleep after such a sight and I decided to watch some episodes of the Big Bang Theory and consumed articles of our food bag for breakfast until Jamie awoke from his blissful slumber. I'm so jealous of his ability to sleep right now.
By the time Jamie awoke properly it was nearly 10.30am and I had battled hours of doing everything in my power to not finish the most delicious garlic crostini I have ever tasted before Jamie got to sample any. Being bored out of my brain, the next food break was the only thing I had to look forward to and before I knew it, it was time to head to the restaurant car to grab some lunch before getting off the train. As determined last night, the only two vegetarian options were ordered and I looked forward to my egg and eggplant dishes to give me some proper sustenance instead of the snack food that has plagued my diet whilst being on the train. Our eggplant was brought to the table quickly followed by a plate of cabbage. Incensed, tired and hangry, I made Jamie ask if they had made a mistake but it turns out the kitchen had run out of eggs. I wanted to cry but instead drank my beer and ate my rice in silence cursing China for the 1 millionith time in 5 days.
We returned to the cabin to prepare to get off at Nanning and switch to our overnight train to Hanoi (oh yeah I forgot I had another night on a train). At 3.35 (our supposed arrival time), we arrived in a big pretty station called "Nanningdong" where everyone was seemingly getting off, so we strapped on our bags and jumped off the train thinking we were so awesome and we got this train stuff down. Our arrogance lasted all of 5 minutes when we realised that we had got off a station too early and now had to negotiate the ticketing hall with our minimal Mandarin to try and get another train to the right station. Fortunately, we had 2 hours or so until our train departed the actual Nanning Station, and by the time we boarded the train to take us to the right station, we had eaten into that time by 45 minutes.
The Nanningdong station was fancy and new and came equipped with lots of fine food outlets which would have been perfect to grab some more hearty products that would suffice for dinner in case our next train didn't have a restaurant car, however given our limited time there we thought we would wait and grab some food at Nanning Station because if international trains departed from there they surely must have better food options right? WRONG. On arrival at the station, we quickly determined that we were in some glorified warehouse with the only food options now avaliable in vending machines. With supplies running low, I grabbed a packet of crisps and some things like pockys but in the shape of mushrooms, and they were eaten before getting on the train.
At 5.40pm we were finally allowed to board our train leaving at 6.09pm, and whilst walking to our carriage we noticed no restaurant car. Once settled in our cabin, our worst fears were confirmed and there was no restaurant car on board. Dinner was now going to consist of our last cup a soups, a muesli bar and apples. Breakfast in Vietnam cannot come soon enough, but we are a little bit unsure what time we actual cross the Vietnam border and our Visa entry is only valid from the 20th October and today is the 19th... so depending on the time we cross it will either be just before or just after the clock in Vietnam strikes 12....
We made it to the China border at 10.20pm where we were required to exit the train with everything we own and put our bags through additional security checks while awaiting a visit to passport control. This was all done with me muttering under my breath how much I hate China with Jamie nodding his head in agreement. However, for the first time since we arrived in China, everything was pretty straight forward and within 40 minutes we were back on the train and left the station not much later heading towards the Vietnam border. This was probably the only time I have hoped for more time on the train or for it to break down but alas we arrived at the border at 12.20am Chinese time which unfortunately was 11.20pm Vietnam time. We again had to exit the train with everything we own and I was trying every delay tactic in the book and waited for everyone else to join the queue before I joined at the very back. Turns out Jamie could use his UK passport without a visa, so he joked about leaving me on the border to fend for myself while he went on to enjoy pho in Hanoi. Jamie, forever the comedian was lucky that I was so tired that I didnt have the energy to rip up his passport right there for him to find out how funny being left at the border was.
We got to the front of the queue at 11.45pm and stood patiently waiting for the inevitable problems but they never came, we got our stamps and went on our merry way back on the train (I know such a drama queen). Upon our return we discovered that the bathrooms were shut again and would not reopen until the train left the station which turned out was at 2am. This is when I really regretting not picking up a shewee - boys have it so easy. I couldnt be bothered waiting so it was time for a few hours sleep before the train arrived in Hanoi at 5.30am.Read more