ABOARD THE NIGHT TRAIN: TWO TALES, TWO COUNTRIES

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things ~ Henry Miller

One thing which is common for all travelers, all who leave their comfort zone to explore new places is their stories. Every traveler has their unique experience, be it sweet or sour.

Once upon a time inĀ 2013, I took a night train from Beijing to Xian. I couldnt afford a sleeping ticket and had to settle for the seating one. The train was filled to the brim, apart from all seats being occupied, all aisles were occupied with many bringing with them, their stools and mats.

A middle aged woman happened to occupy the aisle space next to my seat. Perhaps you can guess by now that my seat was an aisle seat šŸ˜‰ Movement in the train was more difficult due to the aisles being occupied, somehow the train attendants still managed to check tickets and time went by.

The train had longĀ departed from the big city as the city lights faded away. The noise had died down and most people were now in dreamland. It was now past midnight and I had also began nodding my head to mother nature’s call.

Eh, sleep is contagious! The middle aged lady in the aisle next to me began to doze off as well, with just her stool and having no backrest, she was dozing towards my seat. My seat was becoming her head rest. At first, she smiled and apologized, I smiled back and brushed it aside. A few more times of her dozing and I had shifted a bit inside. As I shifted, she also shifted, I could bear it no longer and woke her up to move. While others enjoyed their sleep, here I was relentlessly dealing with this cycle of lady dozing onto my seat- I wake her up- she moves. This continued until day break, no kidding. I didn’t sleep well and was thoroughly annoyed.

Looking back on that trip, I felt tinges of regret, I shouldnt have been inconvenienced but I was, perhaps I should have just gone with it and allow her some space on my seat for her head. No one ever wants to get the short end of the stick, but looking back, I always think I should have given in.

Well, would you believe that something similar happened a few weeks ago. This time, I was on a night train from Vorarlberg to Budapest. I was in a coach with 3 other passengers, two ladies and a guy, they looked to be in their 30s and could speak both Hungarian and German. They were loud and quite friendly.

This time our seats were extendable and after they had been drawn out, the lady in front of me, the most friendly one actually extended her feet to my seat. I was baffled, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. Luckily I was reading a novel which was interesting enough and I moved to the side not bothering with her.

Fortunately I did not have to endure this for much longer as we had to change trains later on. The other fortunate thing was that, this same three persons were the ones who alerted me about the train change and where to go. This was around 1am. Before the trip, I had deliberately bought a one-way no-change ticket, but for some reason, I still needed to change and the announcement was made in German. My German is beyond poor so you can imagine I had no inkling what was up.

While I was truly grateful for their help, after the change I still made sureĀ to sit as far away as possibleĀ from my saviors.

Mmm if/when this happens another time, I wonder what I would do. How do you live and let live while traveling by road, rail or air? Surely others have also had some passenger troubles on their trips, what did you do? What would you do?

BTW, checkĀ out thisĀ website for those interested in planning train trips. www.seat61.com

 

 

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