In small town China, bus drivers honk the horn to alert the whole town that the bus has indeed arrived. And that’s how I woke up this morning. A horn for my bus to Hezuo. 5:50 am.
Once I found my seat, got comfortable, and the bus began bumping down the unpaved road, the driver’s assistant put on a movie. There were machine guns. There were bad guys from Central America. There were big muscley men, and you guessed it, there was Sylvester Stallone.
Yeah, in the middle of Gansu Province, surrounded by dry mountains, grasslands filled with yaks, mountain goats, baby pigs, cows, I occassionally found myself watching a Sylvester Stallone movie. Could be worse. Could have been Steven Segall.
Luckily for me, I had another foreigner to share in this oddity—Simon, a British traveller I met the night before in Langmusi. We both attempted to eat yak burgers at Leisha’s restaurant. Well, I attempted, and he succeeded.
When we asked each other the regular first-meeting foreigner questions, we realized we were both heading to Xiahe the next day and decided to take the same ass-early bus to Hezuo then onward to Xiahe.
Might I add that was the easiest transfer ever. Got off at the south bus station, walked to the street for a taxi, arrived at the central bus station, walked across the street to hear a man yelling for passengers to Xiahe. That’s us!
When on the bus, we witnessed an interesting and telling exchange between a Han Chinese ticket checker and Tibetan passengers on the bus. The woman got on the bus with an attitude, walked directly to the back of the bus, and randomly (or shall we say prejudicedly) asked passengers if they had bought a ticket.
One man confessed to not having bought a ticket. She then asked how many people was he travelling with. Three. So three tickets at sixteen a ticket. How much is that? The ticket checker and the ticket assistant both stood in the aisle thinking, then I spoke out in Chinese, “Si shi ba”.
It was a proud moment for me. For once in my life, I looked as if I had math skills. Thank you to my years of working retail for JCPenney.
Suppose I looked too smart and suspicious though. Then, the lady turned to me and asked if I had bought a ticket. I immediately responded, “Yes, in my bag above me. Do you want to see it?” Bam! Shut down.
After that, the ride to Xiahe went smoothly once the bitchy ticket seller disembarked (my favorite that Jim, the tour guide at Jiuzhaigou, would use).