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Excerpt from the Journal of Olds – Day 43 – Hard Sleeper

Last night we experienced “Hard Sleeper” train travel. If you ever wondered how your luggage felt when you moved from place to place this is the option for you. Unless for some unknown reason you happen to find yourself travelling within China to somewhere that no-one else wants to go you’re essentially going to sleep in the same space as your luggage – hell, you become cargo for 12 hours [Beijing to Pingyao overnight].

It could have been worse – I could have been on fire – but life as a suitcase doesn’t appeal.

All was immediately better on arrival in Pingyao however – underlining the sagely advice of Tom the Legend that the best things reside at the end of the most difficult paths. Fi’s efforts to contact the Hotel and arrange a pickup hadn’t appeared to have worked by the time we departed Beijing but low and behold as we trekked off the freezing cold platform doing our best [and by now quite exceptional] pack mule impression there was a chap with a hastily scrawled “F. Green” on a piece of paper.

We trotted over to his van and made our way, exhausted, to the hotel. It was about 8am when we arrived yet despite this we were actually checked straight into our room.

The room was awesome. The bed was at least 10 foot wide by 7 foot long – whoever planned this room basically decided to slice it in half and call one side “bed’. The decor was also really tasteful – the place was genuinely impressive.

We cleaned up then I nipped to the lobby – across the incredible courtyard by the way – to get the Wi-Fi password. There I met the owner – Bob – who proved to be one of the nicest native blokes we’ve met. He was a great laugh and had been expecting us as we’d lined this place up after a recommendation from our traveller buddies Jessie & Jo.

He recommended we sort out our onward travel a.s.a.p. as tickets are hard to acquire in small towns and offered to arrange it commission free while also offering us a free coffee to warm us up. What a guy.

We asked for a train [soft sleeper if possible, but this wasn’t likely] for the next evening and left him to it. At the time of writing we’ve just confirmed hard sleeper [joy!] upper-berth [this is almost an actual luggage rack] for tomorrow evening which Bob has spent most of the day chasing. Bob is the man – I should buy him a beer…