Friday, April 3rd.

Our train wasn’t due to leave until 6 p.m. so we didn’t check out of our room until 11:50 then we sat in the hotel coffee shop for most of the afternoon.

At 5 p.m. we caught a bus down to the railway station and boarded the train. Our seats were grouped with three young girls leaving home for the first time, and there were pitiful scenes as they said goodbye to their families before the train pulled out.

In the light of evening, the train speed through a tranquil landscape of rice paddies, hills and small mirror-calm lakes, the sun a limpid drop of fire in the west. As night passed, we dozed a bit, read and listened to our walkmans. We pulled into Guangzhou at 6:30 and as the train was carrying on to Shenzhen [pronounced “shen-jen” this is the border crossing between the People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong] we stayed on it for the leg down to the border hoping to get cheaper tickets then we would have if we had good off and bought onward tickets from C.I.T.S. [the China International Travel Service].

The Great Helmsman (Chairman Mao) changing a light bulb.

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