Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hard Sleepers


Some adventures are amazing while you're in the midst of them. Others... Well, you do them because they make for a great story after the fact.

I'm in the midst of one of the latter kinds of adventures.

I could have taken a plane from Xi'an to Shanghai yesterday and be spending this moment curled up in a soft bed at the Shangri-La, awaiting a steaming fresh shower and opulent breakfast.

Instead, I left my cheap hotel by bus (not taxi) yesterday afternoon, waited in a crowded train station where my friend and I were the only white people in sight and just woke up from a fitful sleep in the middle bunk of a train's hard sleeper car. Rather than anticipating a hot shower, I am trying to figure out how to angle my blanket so I can carve out some private space to apply deodorant. I've avoided drinking water on the ride because while I can deal with squatter toilets on solid ground, I'm somewhat of a prima donna about using one on a moving train. And instead of an opulent breakfast, I've got some hard-boiled eggs that I picked up from a street vendor yesterday.

The friend I am traveling with says he likes traveling this way because it's more adventurous, it keeps him grounded, he sees the real China and... Let's be serious, we are saving a ton of money!

While I am currently longing for a shower and toilet, I think this really is a better way to travel. Even more, the way we are traveling is even opulent by Chinese standards, and while I didn't see the hard seat section of the train on my way to my relatively posh sleeper cabin (though not the nicest - the last train ride we took, I lucked out because only soft sleepers were left and that was much more pleasant!), I heard that they were crowded, with people lying on the floor.

I may not be traveling in style, but as I travel this way, I realize that I am immensely blessed to have choices and as I see people sleeping on the streets throughout China, suddenly a less-than-cozy night crammed in a somewhat noisy train may not actually be so bad.

Sent from my iPhone


Justin Earley said...

Julie - stumbled on your blog from the Darden homepage. I'm actually hoping to start at Darden in the fall of 2012, and what's more, I'm a UVA graduate who's living in Shanghai China. Saw on your most recent post that you're here right now! Would love to connect. Judging from some of your posts, we might have a lot in common. Drop me an email if you get a minute. My name's Justin.

daniellaprice30 said...

You are indeed very lucky to be capable of getting a luxurious hotel for a sleep. I'm so inspired too because even though I complain sometimes, I still feel blessed every time I see people sleeping on the street.