I was in China and travelling from Jinan to Xian - that's a 15hr train journey (and that's if the train decides to go fast). As I ignored every person in the station staring at me gawp-eyed as if I was wearing a clown outfit and had just shat myself I got on to the train. Hold the phone, this carriage seems fairly over-crowded. No, this can't be right. I then proceeded to try and bribe the ticket inspector - 'come on I'm a white man with lots of dollars' I said to him as he stood there bemused by my height, my hair colour and my t-shirt choice. It didn't look like I was moving anywhere and I slumped in my small wooden chair that only allowed for a maximum 20% comfort level.
Then the bags toppled on top of the chairs, people's heads and every conceivable space around me. Not only was I stuck on this train, I couldn't actually move now without some pretty aggressive shoving. 'I know' I thought 'I'll chill out to some tunes and fall asleep' - no battery on iPod. So I people watched. Still 14.5hrs left. This was going to be tough.
The cabin was now as busy as the District Line in rush-hour in London - as more and more crowded on I thought am I going to actually survive this? Will this be how it all ends? Me stuck on a train that seemingly never ends while the whole cabin wonders who I am and what I'm doing there? It felt like eyes were on me constantly - each nuance or gesticulation was a source of intrigue, disgust and vague disappointment for the rest of the carriage.