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Notes from A Bullet - Part One

Editors Note: Due to iffy WiFi, this ‘live’ broadcast is now a live only in a retrospective sense. This means that I have written things down as they happen, and then published chunks whenever the Internet permits me. Considering the Chinese ISPs have no idea how to make the Internet stable in my workplace or my apartment, it is no surprise they haven’t mastered firing the web into a metal tube flying along at 300km/h. Muppets.

Hello sports fans, and welcome to a DonkeyFire Special Live Broadcast: NOTES FROM A BULLET. As is hurtle towards Shanghai on a high speed Chinese bullet train, I decided to live blog the experience for you, my faithful reader(s).

The journey allegedly takes 5 hours, which is damn quick: we’re currently bulleting (verb?) along at 302km/h through outer Beijing. It’s amazing how quickly the city becomes the country. But i guess at 300 clicks, if something is going to happen, it’s going to happen quickly.

Ok, let’s rip into it.

·      5:25am: This is exactly as early as you think it is: waaay to early. Plus side? I now know that the sun must rise at about 2am in Beijing, because it was broad daylight when I woke up.

·      5:50am – Suited and booted (note: wearing neither suit nor boot), I am in a chipper mood. In the back of my mind, I wonder what the odds of leaving and arriving on time. I estimate 2/1 we’ll be late.

·      6:25am – Cab driver playing Peking Opera Pop, which is the worst fucking thing in the universe. Like having root canal, and then being raped midway through. In the ear. But it is a really nice morning, with all the old people out doing Tai Chi and stretching

·      6:50am - I find a McDonald’s at the station, and look to grab a coffee. Except the McDonalds is above a different Chinese take out place: is this the only place in the world where Micky Ds gets the shaft upstairs?

  • 6:55am - It certainly LOOKS like a bullet train - or at least a Chinese rip off of a Bullet Trainst 
  • 7:00am – Boarded, and surprised by comfort levels. I have power, a window seat and a mostly empty cabin. I look into the business class cabin (which is bizarrely better than first class, which I am traveling in, proving that at least one person at China Railways has no idea what ‘First’ means in a travel context), and see huge, massage recliners. I am jealous.

·      7:05am – And we’re off, and on time. Impressive.

·      7:15am – Outskirts of Beijing, 301km/h.

·      8:11am – After a brief flirtation with functioning WiFi, I’ve now basically accepted it won’t work, negating the whole purpose of taking the train – being able to work on the way to Shanghai.

·      8:12am – The guy across the aisle is watching some shitty Chinese TV Show on his retarded megaphone, without headphones. So we’re all listening to it with him. What an ass. I call him an ass. He puts headphones on.

·      8:15am – 270km/h??? What the hell is this? Get it back UP!

·      8:20am – Have self-upgraded to business class. Huge, reclining massage chairs, like First Class on a plane. Delish.

·      8:30am – Just inquired about when the WiFi would next start working. The steward laughed at me, saying it never works. Great work China Railways, you fucking halftards.

·      8:45am – Self downgrade: as we punch through some rural towns (which are probably all still bigger than Sydney) I’ve decided to return to my seat. To celebrate my return, the guy two seats ahead just hocked a MASSIVE loogey into a tissue. I’ve been here for over a year, and I still have to restrain myself from beating the shit out of people that do this. And EVERYONE does this.

·      8:50am – The ‘desk’ I’m trying to use in my seat just snapped, crashing my laptop to the ground. I feel China rage swell up.

·      8:55am – The steward has upped her campaign to annoy the bejesus out of me. She actually got a passenger from another carriage to come and translate that the Internet doesn’t work. I know this, I told her, as I am currently using a computer. She informs me ‘It doesn’t work on this train. Sometimes it works on other trains’. When I inform her that the website we booked the tickets on makes WiFi the number one reason to catch the train (“Work while you ride”), she shrugs and walks off. The other passenger awkwardly leaves. Solid grounding in customer support and service at China Railways.