I2: 广州 - China Blues - CycleBlaze

September 26, 2020

I2: 广州

assume since most of the passengers had their e-ticket linked to their ID card, and since the conductor had a mobile scanner of some sort that recognized ID cards, that they have a method for knowing who is in what berth and who needs to be woken up when but my destination is the terminal station for the train I'm on, and everyone in my cabin is heading to the same destination as I am, so I don't get to find out what the attendants on sleeper cars do to keep track of passengers now that we no longer have physical tickets.

In the past, they would take your paper ticket, put it in a binder along with all the other passengers, and give you a plastic card that was harder for a sleeping person to lose/damage than a paper ticket would be. Then, when it was getting close to where you were going to get off, the attendant would come by and wake you up. So far as I'm concerned, this personalized wake-up service from an attendant who is quasi-responsible for making sure you don't miss your station is the primary reason to get a berth on a slow train instead of a seat on any other kind of train.

It's very early in the morning when we get to Guangzhou and even though the gentle susurration of a moving train rocking back and forth knocks me out cold, various other mid-journey passengers who don't get the idea that they should board quietly or shouldn't watch videos without headphones on means that it wasn't the best of sleeps.

Once I've made it off the platform and into the subway station, the discomfort with the way I'm lugging my stuff (I really shouldn't have brought the coffee kit with me) and the on-edge feeling from being in a massive sea of humanity where the only way I'm going to get that eventual seat I'm going to need real soon now is by using my Awesome Powers of Handicappedness and making someone else give up their's.

I find a bench and sit with my back to the wall for perhaps five or six trains before it occurs to me to see if the trains going the other way are as crowded. I have a seat by the first station, and ride three stops in the wrong direction to get to a station where I'm confident in my ability to make it on to the train. It's still not far enough that there are empty seats but even if I weren't wearing shorts that show off my beautiful scar, I am sufficiently miserable looking by this point that I don't even have to.

More walking to get from underground and it doesn't even really matter where I came out of the hole because it was the wrong station altogether for the Decathlon Sports Store that is my first stop of the day and sharebikes are a wonderful, glorious thing. Breakfast at McDonald's waiting for Decathlon to open and then a good hour of wandering around checking out various departments to see if they have whatever other item best matches what I'm looking for.

I end up with a new pair of gaiters (or whatever it is the proper name is for leg warmers), a new pair of bike shorts, a new folding backpack that is just the right size for the coffee kit, a new pair of off-bike shorts that can double as underwear when I decide to wear my jeans, and two shirts (one for tonight's Town Hall, one for tomorrow's training session). Somehow, even though I resist shiny wonderful things like blinkenlights or camping supplies (as I've slept in the hammock once this tour), the bill comes to over 500 yuan (this is like $75 and, unless you've been living on under $25 a day like I have for the past month, is basically nothing).

Taxi to meet a friend for coffee and then lunch at a Mexican restaurant behind the consulate and then I walk over to the incredibly cheap hotel on the same street as the consulate where I discover that the reason the price was soooo cheap is that they aren't actually expecting anyone who has bought that room to take that room once they are told the differences between it and the next room category up. It's still pretty damn cheap though and, although I suspect that I might actually have gotten registered this time, there is once again no problem with me being foreign.

As repeatedly noted in many different places, my problem with "no foreigners allowed" is the arbitrary randomness of not knowing until after I've started the process of checking in if the hotel (that I already paid for, or previously stayed at a week earlier) is going to tell me this time that I can't stay. And, no, calling on the phone is not an option, as I know plenty of people who have been told "no problem" only to show up and deal with a different Front Desk employee who is certain that foreigners aren't allowed.

After an hour long nap, I sit in the hotel room and work until it's time to go to the consulate event. 

Today's ride: 4 km (2 miles)
Total: 1,509 km (937 miles)

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