Stuff I Know

Just stuff by me about me and my life, such as it is.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I Have A Feeling

When the time comes for the great exodus into space, I have a feeling that the Chinese waiting rooms and rocket ships will be just as noisy, crowded, and chaotic as the train waiting rooms and train cars are today. It's just a feeling, but ...

We haven't even left the station and there are already spills and trash in the aisles, and people are smoking in the cars. Thank goodness the bathrooms are locked while the train is in the station.

Outside of Lhasa the rivers are a pale blue-white. I watch them go past the window. First one side of the train and then the other. Mountains on either side of the valley rise up and dictate the path we are to take. On what is not exposed rock, grasses climb up the mountainsides coloring them various shades of green. Occasionally a peak reaches up to capture the last rays of the setting sun. The harvested fields mirror the color of those high peaks.

A village passes by. Houses grouped together to make the emptiness of the valley a little less lonely. The rail meets the road and we travel together for a while. Then, we start a slow climb as the road continues to parallel the river below. The tracks go higher, the train slows, and finally we enter a tunnel. And then quickly another. We enter back into the light and the river is again just outside the window. It now winds across a much wider valley as we head toward new snow-capped peaks in the distance. The sun has set, so the light no longer reaches even the highest peak.

The light has faded outside. Only the occasional set of headlights from a car paralleling us on the nearby road can be seen outside. Now starts the long night inside the train car. This is what MP3 players and head phones were made for. Unfortunately I have neither.

Morning light brings a different scene, one that I slept through on the way into Lhasa. Desert. Probably not the Gobi desert proper, but certainly and extension of it. Sand and rock nearly as far as the eye can see. Only in the distance does the terrain change to rocky outcrops and mountains. As we go lower in elevation, bushes and scrub begin to appear and spread across the sandy expanse. Occasionally the mountains move in closer to the tracks, but the distance on either side to those mountains is more than a person would want to walk.

Now and then, what is obviously a tree planting project passes by in the window. While nice to look at, with the green and yellowing leaves, and no doubt well intentioned, I wonder how long those trees will actually last.

A large blue lake takes its time to pass. And later a dry lake bed, even larger. And there! A heard of wild camels. Double-humped, Bactrian camels getting what nourishment they can from the dry scrub. China certainly can be a country of wonders at times.

(Written on my second long trip on a hard seat. It still hasn't gotten any better/easier by the third or fourth trip, either. Sorry, no pictures. The windows were just too dirty and we were traveling into the sun. Lots of reflections.)



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