A Travellerspoint blog

meet a cadre on the train

director of North China Railways


View 1985 on 1985 trip's travel map.

Sunday 31st March
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Train is packed, definitely no seat. Was planning to bluff by way into hard berth and sit tight, but door locked and lady guard won’t let me through. Stand for three hours then someone invites me to sit with them. Here beginneth a long English lesson.
 Countryside mountainous, lots of little tunnels.
 Read nearly two pages of The Honorary Consul word by tedious word with Chinese man repeating them after me. Eventually I have to stop before descent into madness. He spends a further hour with my guide book getting me to read the cities names to him. Keep smiling bravely. They fetch me tea and give me sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds are a good way to pass the time on long journeys as it takes such a long time to get a mouthful.
 Sit down in restaurant car for lunch with the only other white face on the train, a huge American in his Sixties who is sitting with a cadre like person. I introduce myself as William and he says his name is Ravensholt. He calls me Williams for the next two hours. The cadre is director of the North China railways. Despite this he still wants to practice his English, we repeat our way through words like chopsticks & noodles. Ravensholt is one of a distinguished group of guests invited to China by the China journalists group. They were all foreign correspondents in the East during the War. The other guests are flying to Chongquing, Ravensholt wants to see the trains and the scenery. Wise man, I’ve heard scary stories about internal flights. I tell him his name sounds like something out of Titus Groan, he makes a note the author.
 For the night I opt for the sunflower shell covered spittle drenched floor and my foam roll. Take 20 milligrams of Temazepam and sleep till the dawn chorus of throat clearing.

Posted by 1985 trip 16:00 Archived in China

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