Journey Begins

Nicholas Quirke was swept back in time on 26 September 2020, to the beginning of the year when he has taken the ‘Trans Mongolian Express’ and arrived in Beijing. The 5 day journey he had taken across Siberia in the wonderful company of his friends from Russia, Japan and Australia suddenly felt as fresh and real as if it was yesterday, as he prepared to board the K41 sleeper train from Beijing to Dunhuang. It was only 2 nights in the train, but the excitement, the nerves of going into the unknown were still keenly felt. He had a day to get through though before the trains departure at 20.40. Various deliveries were to be deposited at Peng’s parents and they made another visit to the homestead where he indulged in more photographs of items he would have been proud to display on the shelf of shame. Of course it was imperative that he collected the results of his test the route back home took them past the hospital though It required a little detour by Nicholas who was pleased by this as they had started to compete against each other on the apple health app and it would give him an edge. They decided on having their lunch at the ‘Fly restaurant’ across the road from the apartment block which, Nicholas had first seen from the apartment during quarantine. Fly Restaurants are China’s equivalent of a ’Greasy Spoon’ and the food was delicious even if the surroundings were dubious. There was a moment of horror when having been smug about getting vegan food in an ordinary establishment the rice came with fried egg. At the apartment they watched the intense but slightly disappointing ‘Antebellum’, before they made their way to Beijing station to being their Journey. Nostalgia again flooded through him as this was the station he had arrived at in January and where he had spent a frustrating hour trying to find money and avoid the excesses of paying for an over the odds taxi only to end up Bering kidnapped right at the last moment by a con man. Though there were still checks, it all seemed so much smoother now and there was no problem getting through and onto the train. They made themselves comfortable in their compartment, Nicholas took the lower bunk, which, they were sharing with a young couple who took to their beds as soon as they boarded. It did not take him long to discover that once again there was no WiFi and he would be unable to make any posts to his blog for the duration of his journey. He would however make sure that he was up to date. There was not much to see as it was night and there was no light on the passing scenery once the train departed at 20.40. It was a more comfortable compartment than the one he had travelled on into Beijing and he was pleased to see that he actually goy a duvet rather than a blanket but the bed was still hard and he endured a restless night, waking every time the wheels rocked through the points. Uncomfortable and interrupted as his night was he did actually manage to sleep and dream.

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