I lay on the bed unable to sleep but hoping beyond hope that the train would arrive late. However, my hopes were dashed when the conductor shook my shoulder and warned that “We are arriving in 5 minutes”. The train pulled into to Tianshui Station at 3.57am exactly on time and we alighted bleary eyed.
Crossing the square in front of the station we looked for a hotel. Unfortunately, all insisted we would have to pay the full rate for the 2 hours to 6 o’clock. One receptionist suggested that we leave the luggage at the hotel and either sit in the lobby or go out until 6.00 am. My stingier side got the better of me despite Margie’s protests. So we dumped the luggage behind the reception desk and headed out to the square where a number of food stalls and small stores remained open. We grabbed a few beers at small shop run by a man from Shijiazhuang. He provided us with some plastic yellow chairs and before long other weary and stranded Chinese travellers joined us. The most interesting being a hyperactive young man whose father owned a large business of Yak-leather products in a town near Lanzhou. The skins come from Xinjiang and their products are mostly exported to France by wholesalers in Wenzhou. Meanwhile, our young man himself seemed to dedicate his time to wanr 玩儿 (having a good time). He had been travelling for 9 days and had vistited nine places. He spent most of the time trying to cram his leather travelling case into a cheap back pack that eventually split at the seams……(all a little strange!).
By the time the station clock marked 6.00 am we had formed a merry group, the store holder was particularly happy, our Chinese friend went directly to the Buddhist cave grottoes at Maiji Shan. We were going there too, but we decided to have a few hours kip first, so we said our good byes and parted company.