Lazy days in Lanzhou!
Trip Start Apr 26, 2012
54Trip End Oct 31, 2012
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As usual, Tim got to mind the bags while I tried to fight my way through the crowds and get onward train tickets. Lanzhou has a very large ticket hall. 24 counters and about 20-30 deep at each. Patiently I waited ignoring the curious stares and practicing my Chinese for "2 soft sleeper tickets to Turpan please".
As I got about 6 or 7 from the front I could no longer ignore the events around me. An announcement had just been made over the loud speaker and suddenly everyone was screaming and shouting and trying to push to the front of the lines. It wasn't doing them much good as they were getting sent back but they were screaming and shouting and trying none the less. I really had no idea what it was all about but figured by what I could see that some of the counters were going to close. A look at the clock seemed to confirm my suspicions…almost 1pm…Lunch time. One thing we’ve learned in China…never let a small thing like administrative efficiency and customer satisfaction get in the way of LUNCH!
As I got to number three in the line…Whomp! Down came the shutters and up got all the ticket sellers and walked out. Hmmm! How long for? I finally found out…40minutes. OK, so what to do…not much point in losing my place in the line. Just breathe and wait it out. The girl in front of me left so I was nr 2. There…life was getting better already.
After about 5 minutes the crowd quietened down, realizing there was nothing they could do. As I looked to the end of the hall it appeared that there may have been 1 or 2 lines still operational but most people, like me, had decided it was easier jus to wait it out.
About 5 minutes before the proposed opening time, the girl in front of me returned. Of course I let her back in and to my delight found out she spoke some English. Hmmm. Karma me thinks. So of course she agreed to help me buy my tickets but she had no idea where Turpan was…No problems said the Karma fairy….the guy at the front of the line had a book with the entire Chinese rail system mapped out. It was a simple matter for me to point it out on the map and discover that the Chinese word for the town is Tulufan.
Right on time, ticket sellers still wiping their mouths and burping their satisfaction with lunch all returned. 5 minutes later I had my tickets…sadly not for 3 days but beggars can’t be choosers. We would just have to rest.
We booked into a hotel I had found on the internet. A bit expensive by out standards ($450 but it did have an internet connection, hot water, air con and was in an excellent location 5 minutes walk from the station.
So what did we do in Lanzhou. NOT MUCH! …A lot of research for our onward journey, a lot of resting and quite a bit of eating KFC. Oh…we did manage to find a Korean hotpot and BBQ buffet that satisfied our wish for one last hotpot before leaving China.
What can I say about Lanzhou? Hmmmm…..Only that it appears to have shaken off the dubious honour of being China’s most polluted city. Not great I admit but we have seen far, far worse in our travels. Well done.