Today was an exhausting day of travel.
We left Yangshuo on the 23rd on a bumpy, loud bus to the train station. Every twenty meters or so the driver mashed the brakes, and the horn screeched about every eight seconds. Chinese pop music poured through the cabin speakers, accompanied by videos of dancing and singing on a TV screen. We arrived to find a fairly comfy waiting room, which was soon offset by a cramped train car for 18 hours.
We arrived in Yichang on the 24th, where we waited for several hours to take another bus to board the boat. In Yichang, we stopped at a modern supermarket and I was suspicious it was an activity recommended by the Gov’t to display “the best” of China. After 18 hours on a train, it is easy to become suspicious of nearly anything. I took a walk around the surrounding area and saw older, more “traditional” shops, crumbling sidewalks, etc. I saw fisherman casting nets into the Yangtze and coming up empty. A Chinese man approached me and asked where I was from, and told me he was an engineer at a nearby factory.
We had a fancy dinner in a local restaurant. Our guides placed us in a private room, with a lazy Susan and fleet of waitresses. “It is very loud out there,” they said, referring to the main dining area. “There are many Chinese people.” Although the room was nice, I told the guide, “But we like Chinese people, that’s why we came to China.”
We boarded the “M.S. FORTUNE” (seriously) on the evening of the 24th, dirty and exhausted.