Don’t tell anyone, but Jo and I are blessed with two not-so-secret mutant abilities that make us perfect for travelling.
1) We are able to fall asleep in almost any environment.
2) We are able to ride on most vehicles without getting motion sickness.
As a result of the combination of these two abilities, we are able to get a lot of our rest when we travel from point to point. It’s not unusual to see either (or both) of us happily snoring away as the people around us puke their guts out.
We’re simply not affected.
It’s one of the reasons why we planned a purely overland journey for our trip through China. We would take 15-hour bus rides, instead of 2-hour flights to get from one point to another. It saved us the money on a night of accommodation, and we’d normally wake up bright and bushy-tailed for a brand new day of adventures.
I know I’ve bitched about the questionable living conditions when travelling by train in China. Even though it was a bit of a challenge, we were still able to sleep through most of our 13-hour hard seater train ride from Zhangye to Xi’an. We just had to make sure one of us was awake at any one point in time to ward off incoming spit and other bodily fluid.
It was a great bonding experience. I know we are married, but it was only at the end of that train ride that I felt like I could truly trust Jo with anything.
Even so, it was definitely not the most ideal situation. That’s why I was kinda glad when we heard that one of the 18 Strange Things about Yunnan (云南十八怪) was that rail services in the province bring you out of the country but not from place to place within Yunnan itself (火车不通国内通国外).
This means that we would have to attempt most of this leg of our travel by buses!
You know those comfortable long-distance coaches you see on TV where a slightly rounded semi-famous comedian/actor was able to blissfully recline fully in his seat with a look on his face that would probably have looked more appropriate post-coitus?
That’s the complete opposite of what travelling on an overnight bus in China feels like.
I know… for a lot of you, reading this part of the story is probably like watching that slasher flick where the hot female “supporting actress” decides to go take a shower, or the token Asian guy decides that the best thing to do when being chased by a psycho killer is to run up to the attic where there is no way to escape.
Bad things are gonna happen.
And happen they did.
THIS was our first taste of overnight bus travel in China.
It was a full-blown assault on all our senses.
To top off being crammed in a space the size of a very grimy coffin stacked onto one another, we were treated to the smell of various feet that had just been liberated from shoes after what seems (or smells) like 100 years. The joy of this whole experienced would occasionally be punctuated by the lovely soundtrack of someone going SCCHIHAKOORRCCCHCCHHH *ptui* ONTO the limited space of the aisle between the beds.
The only thing that made the experience any more unpleasant was when our up/down/side neighbours decided that the incredibly valuable breathing space could be enhanced by their cigarette smoke.
Like I said, it was a total sensory experience.
To answer the question a lot of you are probably asking…
Yes, we eventually managed to fall asleep on these buses too.
We are THAT good, but I am sure it stretched the limits of our mutant abilities. And I don’t think we’ll ever be the same again.