Asian railway memories

Never take more memories than you can carry. My blue bag gets heavier and at some point decisions have to be made. I exchange the beach for ancient stones. The former royal capital.

A train ride north. People are taking large amounts of flat green beans to their destination.    I wonder what they are used for. Climb the ladder to my bed and open my warm can of beer. The rumbling of the train brings back old memories:

2008, Night train to Chiang Mai, Thailand 

Slowly we start moving. People walk around, try  to sell beers and snacks. We  explore the dining car, smoke cigarettes with the railway staff. Our compartment is quiet now. I walk to the sink and brush my teeth. See some travelers having beers. An unexpected party in the hallway – between two wagons. Bare feet.

I start talking to Richard, a curious  guy with a cowboy hat. He is on a holiday and on his way to Chiang Mai to meet some elephants. It gets later. Richard sticks his head out of the open door. Offers his hat to the jungle.

He teaches me something I will never forget-  to stick your head out  and enjoy the view.

2009, A slow train to Shanghai, China

Guilin- Shanghai. 28 hours to pass. No dining car, no bins. Just instant noodles and a VERY big egg.  Not recommendable. Scary. The garbage goes straight out the window. Problem solved.

We walk the train , up and down,  for some entertainment. Lots of staring and attention. Children with holes in their pants instead of diapers. Splash! Out in the open. Families openly  trying to take our pictures. People snacking on chicken claws and strange sausages. Lots of questions  in Mandarin. A sign in the toilet not to jump out the window. The thick smoke from the factories outside.

It gets later. We get involved in a conversation with a bright student. He tells us we are in the turtle train, the slowest and the cheapest.  Wants to know about our lives- our perspective. If we can really have as much children as we want to. About politics. About life, outside of China.

After a short night of sleep my train arrives. Back in 2012. Bangkok. The next train will depart soon.

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