How would I sum up the Guangzhou train station?
If you , like us, come from the UK then catching a train is something you will be quite use to. You turn up about half hour before if you are being cautious. Get your ticket and wait on the platform. This is not how they do things in China.
If you want to get a ticket for a train in China you need to make sure you are at the station an hour to two hours before. This is because:
- The queues are 50 people long
- The Chinese people didn’t seem to know how to queue
I’m not a confrontational person but after Lee and I had been queuing for over an hour and 5 people tried to push their way to the front to buy 5 tickets each , I got a bit nasty. I put my middle school teachers face on and shouted a stern ‘no’ in Chinese and pointed to the back of the line that was a faint speck in the distance. The man looked confused since pushing in is a way of life in China.
By the time we got to the front of the line we had missed our train but luckily the Chinese train system must be use to the chaos since you are allowed to re-book your tickets once. We re-booked and hoped an hour to get to the train would be enough. When we rounded the corner to see the chaos that confronted us, we weren’t so sure anymore.
Once you’ve queued for an hour (2 hours on weekends) to get your ticket you must then push your way through the mess of people, refusing to queue, so that you can get to the waiting area. Here you must present your passport and ticket. After half hour we finally got through, with a new hatred of every person in a five meter radius. I was ready to start swinging and taking names.
From here everything was a battle. A battle to get on the escalator, a battle to push our way to the x-ray machines, a battle to show our passports and ticket again…honestly you’d think we were trying to get into North Korea not just ride a train down the road in the same country.
Once all the checks were done we were in the waiting area and had 10 minutes to wait before we had to queue and get on the platform. By the time we sat in our seats (which to Guilin in first class cost 16 pound each) we hated the world. Then a strange thing happened….just when you thought you couldn’t hate the world enough…you hate it twice as much. The man behind me kicked my chair for an hour even after I asked him to stop, every person around us was playing music loud without head phones and a man was having conversations on his phone so loudly that the baby five seats away was crying. If i’d every wondered what the depths of hell are, it’s a Chinese train. Lee and I looked at each other without saying a word and burst into laughter. The sheer chaos around us was insane. We calmed ourselves with the knowledge that this was the new fast train to Guilin that took only 3 hours instead of the old train that took 12 and watched Guangzhou disappear outside the window and turn into a beautiful landscape of towering mountains and rice paddies.