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Eli Transmission 2 (July 15)

Eli Transmission 2 (July 15)


As the rain poured over Kunming, we tidied the Program House for Language Group 4A, sweeping floors, organizing the library, and hanging artwork on the walls. Night fell as we rode public bus to Kunming Station, bag-encumbered—hopefully not blocking the door at every stop! Crowd, x-ray, passport, guard, and we were in the crowded waiting room, which was almost brimming with Lijiang-bound travelers.

When the gates finally opened, the current took us to the platform, where snack vendors were eagerly awaiting our arrival. Their carts overflowed with instant noodle soup, candy, packaged chicken wings, and other sodium-rich零吃, or empty calories. That said, we were also toting more than our fair share of the same kind of snacks. Walking down the platform to Carriage 4, I saw the bunks: three high, and approximately 30 by 75 inches, with comforters so dense, they were almost weighted. We piled into our section, with hands, feet, socks, shoes, bags, and blankets flying every which way, until we inevitably settled down, snug under fifteen pounds of bedding. Marcus and I both independently and simultaneously made our way to the one-piece, stainless steel sink at the car’s end, water amply splashing onto the already slippery floor. Feeling fresh and ready for bed, we returned to our all-to-small beds (Marcus being 6’ 5” and I 6’ 4”), and settled down for a ten-hour’s nap. Or so we thought. For quite some time, the odd incantations of safety announcements in a child’s voice blared, and fluorescent lights glowed almost permanently only about a foot above the top bunk. But then, suddenly, all was dark, and all was silent.

Over straight tracks the Lijiang Express quietly sails.

We disembark, transfer to a few small vans, and wind up the narrow roads to our next adventure: Nanyao.