The day starts with a cold drizzle. Took the bus to Huaihua and walked about town for two hours. It’s typically Chinese, both modern and run down, with heavy traffic and no soul. They had cleared a huge area south of the train station for new construction.

I got on the train to Kunming 30 minutes late. I had a bottom berth (the best one, I can look out the window and stow my bag). Some guy wanted to trade but I pretended not to understand – the language barrier works both ways… Later he starts smoking, spits on the floor, and drops sunflower seeds on the grubby carpet. Then he gives me an orange and some seeds and a minty-tasting dried fruit to chew, and he is my friend. I am easily bribed.

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