Workin’ For The Blog


This blog entry about the events of Thursday, August 26, 2004 was originally posted on September 01, 2004.

DAY 313:  Everyday when I’m behind on The Blog I tell myself, This is the day you’ll just stay in and catch up, Erik.  You become a writer when you write because you have to, not because you want to.  Some days I listen to my inner monologue, but other days I go out to do more — all for the benefit of The Blog and its readers of course.  I swear, it’s hard work playing the role of producer, keeping each daily entry interesting and different from others so as a whole, The Blog doesn’t get stale.  Anyway, I decided that this would be the day to catch up, to finish as much I could before my 5:33 p.m. train to my next destination, Xi’an.

I didn’t leave the house all day, or rather, I didn’t leave the stadium all day.  Checkout time was at noon so I packed up and put all my bags in storage — minus my laptop and my notes to spread out on the dining area table in the kitchen to work while everyone else was having fun.  Toni and Paul went off with their bicycles to explore Beijing’s hutongs (old small residential streets) while I sat to do work like a kid grounded with extra homework.  I didn’t even go out for food; I ordered in (Chinese of course).  I was on a roll, sorting out photos, writing, editing, and uploading what I had finished on the Ethernet connection in the computer lab in the next room.  I was on a roll so much that I almost didn’t make my train — I had forgotten to factor in rush hour weekday city traffic. 

My taxi barely made it to Beijing West Railway Station on the opposite end of town in time.  I only had about ten minutes until departure when I was still in traffic, just outside the train station.  I paid the guy my fare and ran to the entrance — losing time at the security x-ray check — not knowing exactly where to go, putting my faith in good signage. 

Fuck, where’s the Pinyin?  The Roman character equivalent to Chinese characters were absent from all the signs.  Stress level went to orange, but back to yellow when I realized my ticket used cardinal numbers — I simply matched my “231” to the big board (picture above) and ran in a frenzy to track “4.”  I think I was the last one to board the train because I didn’t see anyone get on after me; everyone was all set to go already.  Before I settled all my things in, the train started its “30”-hour southwesterly route through the Shanxi province to the city of Xi’an the Shaanxi province.  (No, that’s not a typo.  Confusing, isn’t it?)

THE RAILWAY SYSTEM IN CHINA is a fairly efficient one.  The original lines were constructed in the 19th century, and over the decades have been improved and improved — like in the eyes of the Soviet Union and the U.S.A., railways were a symbol of a nation’s greatness and economic growth.  Nowadays, the trains are a popular and safe way to travel within the country.  For an overnight journey, one can choose from a “hard sleeper,” a bed in a non-compartmental railway car of twenty triple bunks, or an upper-class “soft sleeper,” a comfortable compartment for four (two double bunks), similar to the 2nd class accommodations on the Trans-Siberian Railway.  Of course I didn’t know the difference when I booked the tickets with Lily at the hostel in Beijing — blame The Blog from taking away pre-destination research time away from me — and ended up in the pricier (but nicer) soft sleeper.  It was a slight step above the Russian trains, with plush oriental carpeting, a big shared washroom and really comfortable fluffy comforters to sleep in.  Moreover, there was an electric outlet for me to plug in my laptop to continue the chore I had been doing before my little almost-missing-the-train escapade:  workin’ for The Blog.  I came to a stopping point around ten o’clock and just fell asleep, knowing I had the entire next day to work.

THERE WAS A NUDGING AT MY FEET the next morning around seven — it was the conductor waking me up.  That’s pretty rude, I thought, but at least I’d get an early start to the full day of Blog writing ahead. 

That’s funny, why is everyone packing up?

“Excuse me, are you going to Xi’an?” I asked a Western-looking couple I noticed in the hallway.


“When are we arriving?”

“In about fifteen minutes.”

“I thought this was supposed to be a thirty-hour ride.”

“Thirteen hours.”

“I think I should pack my bags.”

Thirteen hours? I thought, shoving my things in a bag.  Maybe I misheard Lily’s words.  But thirteen, not thirty?  I thought they told me the train ride was going to be a long one.  Then again, to the average person, thirteen is pretty long.  I had just become conditioned to thirty-hour journeys through Siberia.  I remember at the beginning of The Trip I dreaded a five-hour journey through Ecuador.  Geographically and mentally speaking, look how far I’ve come. 

Seventeen hours before I knew it, I arrived in Xi’an, a brand new city to explore that would put The Blog on the backburner for the time being.

Next entry: He Said, She Said in Xi’an

Previous entry: The Zoo Debate

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

Comments for “Workin' For The Blog”

  • Sounds like you had a “lost in translation” moment.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/31  at  06:37 PM

  • ERIK - “2nd class accommodations on the Trans-Siberian Railway.” doesn’t link….which one did you want it to go to?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/31  at  11:43 PM

  • never fails, running late and all, but you still manage to sneak that picture in!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/31  at  11:45 PM

  • Markyt… took my comment away!  That is exactly what I thought while reading about the rush!

    Erik….I think everyone following your adventures really appreciates how you lighten..enlighten our days.. I need the fix of your blog entries! Thanks much!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/01  at  03:09 AM

  • MARKYT:  To “Body Language”... but I’ll fix it.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/04  at  10:21 AM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today,, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.

Next entry:
He Said, She Said in Xi’an

Previous entry:
The Zoo Debate


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