China 21 – A Quiet Bus Ride in the Countryside

I’ve been waiting for 14 minutes to buy a ticket for a bus that was leaving 15 minutes after I got to the bus station. Most of that wait was due to people diving into the front of the queue because a lot of people in this country don’t seem think that any form of orderly behaviour applies to them. As I get to the window someone tries to thrust their money across the front of me, I’ve had enough at this point and physically eject him, perhaps a little over enthusiastically, as he ends up on his arse swearing and waving his hands at me. I don’t care at this point, I’ve got one minute to get my ticket and find my bus in the maze of randomly arranged buses in the parking lot, throw my bag on and go through the standard procedure of ejecting the person from my seat occupied by the person who doesn’t think that seat allocations apply to them.

It’s a small bus, we get on the road and realise with horror that I forgot to charge the iPod, normally a sanctuary of sanity for journeys like this:

The guy in front has the loudest phone I’ve ever encountered, which he holds on his knee and proceeds to yell at, with equally deafening responses coming back, for the entire journey.

The woman behind at least has the courtesy to not put her phone on speaker but is yelling so loud into it that I don’t know why she just doesn’t stick her head out of the window and save the call charge.

The guy across the aisle from me proceeds to hack up great pints of phlegm pretty much on the minute every minute to the sound of someone working overtime on a cappuccino machine then gobs it onto the floor between us. Several people are shoving sunflower seeds into their mouths then spitting the husks out wherever they may land.

Someone else is vomiting wildly into plastic bags then throwing them out of the window.

I don’t want to look down for fear of seeing a flotsam of sunflower seeds riding a tidal wave of phlegm, spit and vomit.

Amongst all this, the driver is singing opera at the top of his lungs in between hacking up his own phlegm while chain smoking and driving in the belief that nothing could possibly be coming the other way around those blind mountain hairpin corners so feels the need to take each one on the wrong side at full speed.

I’m looking out of the window thinking this is how people go mad …

China 02 – Inscrutable visas

A couple of details regarding the Chinese visas might have been handy before attempting to spend 6 months travelling through the country … the six month multiple entry visa only allows stays of up to 30 days at a time (as does any Chinese visa apparently). It’s also only available to residents of Chinese territories. Double entry was the best I could do.

It’s going to need some creative planning to dip in and out of the country without involving an insane amount of flying and expense … I think I’m up for that challenge 🙂

First stop, the northern deserts sandwiched between Tibet and Mongolia.