It’s all very well going for the authentic local experience, but there is really little point, other than getting first hand experience into how cramped and slow the buses are, how awful the traffic is and what I don’t have to deal with back home. But, I didn’t have much choice as the trains from pingyao to xi’an were fully booked days ago. Hence I had to get a bus for a couple of hours north to taiyuannan then. Across the city by taxi to get to the southern train station which looked and felt like an air terminal. Taiyuan city resembled pretty much what I was expecting from China. Miles and miles of wide multi-carriage ways sweeping past rows and rows of 20 storey concrete blocks, many still under construction. The sky is grey, rather there is no sky, but a blanket of smog, trapping in the heat, as the day warms up, and stinking of sulphur. The roads into the city are gridlocked and we edge in inch by inch. In contrast the southern station is bleak, clean, gleaming, orderly and so vast it feels empty, even though there are hundredsofpassengerswaiting their trains. I’m now on the D-train waiting to be spirited by super high speed to xi’an.


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