Thursday, January 5, 2012

Get 'er Done... Sometimes

I just got back from the train station.  Yesterday I went to the train station.  This afternoon I will go to the train station.  I am trying to buy a train ticket for my winter travels.  I still don't have the train ticket.

What I need is a ticket that will take me between two southern cities, Guilin and Kunming, next week.   Let's review the relevant roadblocks:

1)  First I contacted my hostel in Guilin to buy the ticket directly and have it waiting when I arrived.  They agreed.  Sweet.

2)  Yesterday, the hostel called.  They tried to buy my ticket and were told that the government is implementing real-name ticketing for all trains starting on January 8.  I will travel on the 12th.  I need to buy the ticket in person with my passport.

3)  A friend helped me call the train station here to see if I could purchase the ticket from here.  They said yes, as long as it was within 10 days (the usual window to buy a train ticket).  My friend said she'd go with me.  Sweet.

4)  We arrived at the station, waited in line, and got to the front.  Then they said they would not sell tickets for the 12th until the next day.  We went home.

5)  This morning I decided to go by myself to the station and buy the ticket.  I wrote the date, the train number, and the price to hopefully avoid any language barriers.  I got to the station and the lines weren't too long.  Sweet.

6)  Two people in front of me got turned away with no tickets.  Why?  They won't start selling tickets for the 12th until 3pm today.

I realize this is a long and boring story, but it does illustrate a few things about life in China.
  • Things take longer.
  • Sometimes it's hard to get the right information, like when we called the station and they said 10 days in advance was no problem, or when we went to the station and they said "tomorrow" instead of "3 p.m. tomorrow."
  • The rules are always changing.  Here, two rules changed unexpectedly: the real-name ticketing requirement for slow trains, and the fact that they wouldn't sell me a ticket until a mysterious 6.5 days in advance.
  • Persistence and flexibility go a long way.  One way or another, we'll get what we need.

1 comment:

  1. sounds like life in another country. keep persisting!! (and these so-called "boring" stories can either be super frustrating or funny. so laugh. just laugh.)