Our Journey To Elizabeth Xiaochai
June 07, 2000 - To Maoming By Train
We were up early, packed up again to check out and headed down for the breakfast buffet. The buffet at the Victory has nice foods but they are very Chinese. I am a wimpy bacon and hashbrowns gal - none of which was on this buffet. This was my next time to complain.
I noticed the same sort of smell in the dining area that was in our room - turns out it is the sea water and all of the humidity. All of the buildings start to smell like this after a while. (Even our guide's previous room at the Swan was like this.) So, I did eat a few things and then we rushed to the Guanghzou train station with our Maoming guide, Gillian.
The train station was unbelievable!! This was easily the wildest place yet on our trip. We did a lot of rushing over the next 24 hours. We had to jump out of our taxi as the drivers were pulling up and dumping people out quicker than we could get out of the way - taxis and people were everywhere! Our guide had told us to be careful with our wallets, this is where we could be pick-pocketed!
We had a lot of stares here - we really did stick out - more so than any other time on the trip. Once we entered the building, all of our baggage/purses had to go through a metal detector.
I remember hopping to the end of the conveyer belt as quickly as I could to grab THE backpack - the one with all of our documents. I did not care if someone wanted anything else, my money belt, my clothing, my shoes, anything they wanted but I would fight to the death for this backpack! Of course, we had no trouble with any theft of any kind. Our wait was in the first class waiting area. The room was very 1940's looking which I loved.
It was so exciting to finally head out to the train for boarding - I was not nervous, just - something, I cannot describe it. We were finally leaving for Maoming, it was beyond words.
(Left) We had a first class "soft" cabin. This picture shows just one side, you can see that we piled all the blankets onto one upper bunk to allow more space for moving around. The cabin had four bunk beds, a table and a lockable door with curtains. It was very nice and I think it was only $35.00 per person, very well worth the money.
There were bathrooms on either end of the first class car - I did not know that the bathrooms down one end were the "first class" bathrooms and had been using the "lesser" in quality during the trip (too much tea). The 1st class facilities were much nicer I found out on the trip back the next day. Oh, well, they were all squatters and lacked that "Pine-Sol" fresh smell. Also, it is hard to use a squat toilet on a moving train! Do I get some kind of extra "China adoptive parent Brownie points" for that?? This train stopped a lot and sometimes suddenly! Did I mention the "waste" dropped onto the tracks while the train was moving? You could see the tracks below you as you squatted. At each stop, they would lock the bathroom doors so not to leave anything behind right there where folks were waiting to board!
While on our 6-hour journey south to HER city, Maoming, we talked about Elizabeth and what she must look like. Our guide, Gillian, was very nice and good company. She went back and forth from our cabin to her seat in another car. At one point she popped in to say that she had spoken with the director and that she and Elizabeth would meet us at the hotel and further informed us that we would be able to see the Maoming Welfare Institute.
The scenery was absolutely lovely. Lush, green, rolling hills. There were wonderful very old looking villages, I wish we could have stopped and visited some of them. The pictures will have to do.
(Left) This is just south of Guangzhou. A major highway is visible at the top corner. We had not hit the countryside yet.
(Right) This is someplace between Guangzhou and Maoming. We forgot our map so we were never sure where we were. I will just say this is very typical of what we saw on the train trip. There were many farms with people working in the fields. We saw duck farms, rice fields, mining camps, small villages with very old looking buildings (I mean they looked centuries old) and also modern apartment buildings.
As we neared Maoming, everything got more beautiful and hilly. It was the most breathtaking scenery of the whole trip. I saw my first dog who was running through a field. We also saw some water buffalo.
The excitement was building... we were about to meet our daughter!!
"The greatest gift and honor, is having you for a daughter."
Fa Zhou to Fa MuLan - Disney's MULAN
©2000, Ashley V.
Last Update: June 6, 2021
(Right): Papa Don, Sarah, Donnie and Gillian while we wait to board. Sarah made sure we all made it to our cabin although she stayed in Guangzhou and waited for us to return the next day. She motioned to Gillian to watch her purse, I think the trains are also well-known spots for pick-pockets.
(Left) The train that would take us to Maoming! There were a lot of people. A vendor was selling bottled water and food items. This is one of those vendors that I think you are supposed to be leery of when buying bottled water. Gillian brought a whole bag of bottled water and goodies for the ride because they cost too much on the train she said.
6/07/00 - Train To Maoming