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Sleeper Bus to Yangshou - HAPPY NEW YEAR


View Hong Kong to Beijing on a Shoestring - China on John999181's travel map.

Thinking back on how I've spent New Years Eve in the past, this is certainly up with the best of them. A beach party on the Gold Coast, Australia, or seeing the new year in at a local pub in a remote town called Hugo, which is in the outback of Colorado among the Rocky Mountains. Or how about a street party in Lerwick, Shetland..... This time I'm opting for something different. This year I choose to be legless, lying on my back as the clock strikes midnight. Though it isn't alcohol related... Its because I'm lying on a poxy sleeper bus, staring at the ceiling, travelling through the night as the chimes of 12, midnight just pass me by. No kissing and hugging, no singing Auld Lang Syne and cheering, no letting off party poppers and speaking to people you haven't spoke top for maybes that past 5 year and greeting them with handshakes, just the sound of 30 snoring Chinese locals making there way to Guilin, via Yangshou.

The sleeper bus was made up of three rows, from front to back of bunk beds, one top, one bottom. The beds to avoid however are the top bunks, in the centre isle about halfway down the bus. Reason being, is that you feel ever movement as you're tossed back and forth at every corner. You are also wanting to avoid towards the front too. Basically you're not wanting to see the view the driver does while he bombs about, hand on horn, undertaking on blind corners. It's certainly not for the faint hearted as you're probably best off not knowing what he gets up to, as long as you get to where you're going in one piece. So it wasn't too surprising, once I was forced to take my shoes off, then barked at by the bus assistant in her all in red suit for standing on the road and not the cut up cardboard box that lay at the entrance, that my bed for the night was three from the front, centre isle, top bunk. Great...

There is nothing other than bunks within the bus, so tired or not, for the, entire journey, you are forced to lie there staring at the ceiling. You dare not walk about either incase you get the brunt of the lady in reds growl, as she went about the bus snapping at people. She must of only been about 22, though her attitude was one to be desired. Possibly that time of the month, so I lay their motionless, scared to make eye contact with her incase she came lashing down at me. "Quick, she's heading back, just look the other way. If you ignore her she might go away and pick on someone else."

The bus was scheduled to take 9 hours to get to Yangshou. The thought of arriving in a town, in the middle of China at 3am in the morning never crossed my mind as fun. Rather the opposite though I knew the 3 Australian lasses who were sharing the journey, were getting off there too so I settle slightly, as I continued to stare at the ceiling. After a few local pick ups we were on our way. Every few hours we would pull up for a break which everyone seemed to welcome as the toilet on the bus was not in service. I say welcome, if you were to see the toilets then perhaps not. The bus would pull up into a dusty car park that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere with a few un-occupied buildings scattered about. A line of stalls and tables ran along the pavement selling noodles and fruit. An old brick building which attracted most of those on the bus, I took to be the toilets, so off I went. The shack was a narrow, dirty squabble with a trough down either side running away from the entrance. One side, there was a ledge which elevated you over the trough, the other, the same, though it had four 3ft brick walls to segregate you. These were the cubicles. No doors, just walls so when you, sorry to say, squatted, you wouldn't see those next to you as they do the same, although you would be in full view off everyone else in the restroom. The stench coming from the building was unbearable which made me realise why they opted on having the washing facilities outdoors, as no one would want to stay in that room for any longer as they had too. Saying washing facilities, I mean a large industrial sink with rusty copper pipes running from it that spat out freezing cold water. That's when it dawned on me for the first time that back at home we forget on how fortunate we are and that we certainly wouldn't class being able to wash our hands in warm soapy water in some motorway cafe on the A1 motorway as a luxury...... People of China certainly would.....

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Posted by John999181 20:20 Archived in China Tagged backpacking

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