Le Grand Détour

Train de Yichang à Hangzhou

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france_french_flag Putain ce train, une nouvelle expérience à ne pas renouveler trop souvent… Cela a commencé dans la gare : le train était peut-être en retard, toujours est-il que le passage vers les quais n’a été ouvert qu’à seulement 10 minutes du départ, ce qui déroge à la règle habituelle des 30-40 minutes. Du coup les passagers anxieux et impatients ont commencé à faire la queue « à la chinoise », en se bousculant sur le portillon de tous les côtés. Et nous étions au milieu, en prenant ce bazar à la rigolade. Et puis nous prenons place dans le train, en mettant nos sacs à dos au-dessus de nos places. Quelques minutes plus tard un couple de chinois assez costauds rentrent dans le wagon pour prendre place devant nous. Sauf qu’ils s’aperçoivent qu’il n’y a plus de place pour mettre leurs valises sur l’étagère à bagages, le train ayant commencé son trajet bien avant la gare de Yichang. Heureusement nous n’étions pas en cause avec nos sacs car ils ont commencé à taper un scandale comme nous en avons jamais vu ou entendu. Plusieurs passagers s’en sont mélés, ça s’est mis à crier dans tous les sens. Je ne sais pas de l’homme ou de la femme quel était le pire mais ils hurlaient littéralement, en étant à deux doigts de se battre avec d’autres passagers. La femme trépignait en postillonnant tant et plus. Nous nous sommes faits tout petits en évitant tout contact du regard. Mais cela a duré près de 15 minutes avec la moitié du wagon qui hurlait, certains qui s’insultaient, d’autres qui essayaient de calmer les choses. L’homme a commencé à retirer les valises de l’étagère en les jetant par terre, les propriétaires des valises se battaient pour les remettre. Un policier est arrivé, puis une employée du train mais les cris ont perduré encore pendant plusieurs minutes avant de se calmer un peu. L’homme a finalement consenti à avoir sa valise sur l’un des côtés du wagon plutôt qu’au-dessus de lui. Le charme incarné ce couple assis devant nous…

Etait-ce par représailles, je ne le sais pas, mais à partir de là une bonne moitié du wagon s’est mise à caqueter tant et plus, tellement fort qu’on arrivait pas à écouter de musique avec nos écouteurs ! Et depuis 3h maintenant, c’est toujours aussi assourdissant. Et ça rote, et ça pète et ça se racle la gorge et ça tousse sans mettre la main devant la bouche et ça crie dans les téléphones portables. Bordel, on se croirait dans un gigantesque poulailler humain ! Ah, vous imaginez peut-être que c’est parce que l’on est dans un train de seconde zone tout pourri, hein ? Que nenni ! Nous sommes dans un Fast Train, l’équivalent du TGV ! Ca serait plutôt rigolo si ça ne durait que 5-10 minutes mais là c’est quand même pénible. Aller, encore quoi, 5 heures de plus à tenir 😉 Nous finirons par regarder une série sur l’ordinateur de Susie, pour la première fois depuis le début de notre voyage, en partageant un écouteur et en se bouchant l’oreille avec la main.

PS : la photo où on a l’air triste, c’est lorsqu’on s’est rendu compte que le voyage durait en fait 8h et non 5 comme on le pensait 😉

english_flag After getting off the boat we once again tried to negotiate with a taxi driver (a challenge that we have yet to win!) to take us to the train station before realising that there were buses for just 35 RMB each (slightly cheaper than the 200 that he was asking for). As always there wasn’t a timetable for the bus, it would just leave once it was full.

Once at the station we went to a café for lunch and paid more for a cup of tea than for a plate of pork, vegetables and rice! I had naively thought that tea in China would be cheap, but in the restaurants it is often one of the most expensive items on the menu. Maybe this is why most Chinese people we see are carrying little flasks containing tea leaves that they refill with hot water whenever and wherever they can (supermarkets, train stations, etc). Maybe we should invest…

About 20 minutes before our train was due to leave people started to gather (I nearly said queue up, but that would have been the wrong term ^_-). We got into the huddle and a group of Chinese ladies pushed in front of us giggling and whispering to each other as they looked at us….I said to Stéphane that they were saying that they’d got another one over on the tourists (or something less polite)!

Everyone was getting a little excited by now though as the ticket barrier was still closed and it was now less than 10 minutes before our train was due to leave (the norm is 30-40 minutes). The controller strolled slowly towards us…no rush!!! In the end they just opened all the barriers and didn’t bother controlling the tickets so the hoard of passengers pushed through and ran to the platform.

We found our carriage and managed to get our bags onto the racks directly above our seats and sit down. A minute later a large couple got on and made their way to the seats directly in front of ours with their 2 wheely suitcases. At which point they both started screaming as there wasn’t enough room above their seats to put their bags. The guy started to move someone else’s suitcase which was in “his” place and the owner of the suitcase, an middle-aged lady with big hair and lots of jewellery, started screaming at him and nearly hitting him. The wife then got involved and there was an awful lot of shouting, insulting, pushing and stamping of feet. Eventually, with about half of the carriage now involved and a couple of people from the neighbouring carriages, the conductor came up and tried to calm things down…no effect. Then a policeman joined them, didn’t really seem to say or do much but the people all eventually started to calm down. Maybe they were worn out after 15-20 minutes!

I said to Stéphane that we could get one of our bags down and put it behind the seats at the back in order to solve the problem. His reply was to keep my head down and not make eye contact with anyone…which is hard to do when you’re as nosy as I am!! ^_-

The story ends slightly disappointingly with the fat man agreeing to have one of his suitcases placed on the floor just near me where the corridor was slightly wider.

The aging lady was travelling in a large group and for the rest of the journey this group were particularly loud, standing up and chatting to each other across the carriage. Every time that one of them went to the loo or to fill their flask they made a point of giving the fat wife the evil eye….

It was quite late into the journey that I realised that it would last 8 hours and not the 5 hours that I had previously thought. I shared this happy thought with Stéphane…depressing! We ate our wonderful pot noodles and I sent Stéphane to the bar to buy a beer…he came back all triumphant, the 2 last beers in the train. I opened a can, it made a slightly dull noise, I drank some, it was herbal tea!!! Never mind, the noisy group were finally leaving the train, maybe we could get some shut-eye before we arrive at Hangzhou and have to start negotiating with another taxi driver.*

*Negotiation failed and we ended up paying 120 RMB for a journey that cost us 30 for the return journey (; _ 😉