Today was long, and somewhat stressful!! At 1pm reservations opened for the first leg of our journey. I sat at the phone, waiting for the minutes to tick by, and when the time clicked over, I tried to book the tickets from Guangzhou to Beijing, as as the bookings opened they were instantly sold out!! What the ....?
Anyway, I managed to secure two tickets on the next train, so I am happy with that. Only downside is that it arrives in Beijing at 8:56pm, instead of 6pm, so that means the last little bit of the trip will be in darkness, which I did not want, but it is holiday season, and we have to feel lucky to have tickets!!
Once the train tickets were confirmed, I went ahead and booked three nights accommodation at Leo Hostel, where we stayed in 2008. Right near to Tiannanman Square, and in the middle of the ancient Hutong area of Beijing.
So, I decided to try for the tickets from here to Guangzhou, but with no luck at all. All suitable trains come up on the website as sold out!! At least I have options here, such as an intercity bus, which will work, except the haul of our luggage from the bus station to the main city train station. But all do-able! From there we would need to take the subway to our departure station.
The other option is to take an airport express bus, to the Guangzhou airport, and then take the subway to Guangzhou South train station, where we will be leaving from.
I actually put a post on wechat, about the fact that I could not get simple train tickets from Zhaoqing and Guangzhou, and had lots of good advice from many friends.
Shane, a young guy from Ireland tried to book the tickets using his wechat app. If I had a Chinese bank account, linked to wechat, I could do that too, but I do not have that function available to me. Shane offered to do it for me, but the reservation kept on bogging down, so in the end he gave up.
Peter, from Australia, told me that he had had success previously, getting tickets through a ticket agent just up the road from his apartment. I headed off to find the shop he was talking about. It was late afternoon/early evening by then, but I easily found the shop. And the young guy there spoke good enough English. But he told me he cannot book until two more days, so I will go back on Saturday morning, and see if he can have any success.
It is really weird - online bookings open at a specified time, 30 days ahead of travel, but ticket agents cannot book until 28 days ahead. Not sure if this means all the tickets are gone by then, or if they get allocated a set number of seats. Anyway, we will find out on Saturday, and if that fails, we fall back on one or other of the bus options.
I decided to wander down Kangle Beilu to KFC, to get some food, and walked down the opposite side of the road to what I would usually take. I passed a lovely little florist shop, and out the front they had lovely little pots of succulents, and for only 5rmb, so I decided to get one for Melrose, to add to her growing little garden plot!!
They had small pots also for 5rmb. That is only $1! So, I decided that would also be nice. And as I walked off I noticed they also had pots of green leafy plants, for only 9.9rmb, so I told the girls I would come back after eating.
Dinner was fine, but only KFC, and expensive, but it had to do for today! I walked back up to the florist, and bought one of the little succulents, a pot, and a leafy bush. Melrose is enjoying her little garden, and although she usually favours flowering plants, I hope she will like these little additions.
I have finished her new slippers too, so hope I can catch up soon, to deliver them. Certainly before I manage to kill off her new plants!!