Friday 22nd October 2010
Donnie was better this morning but we decided that we'd all pass on breakfast and just have coffee and a cereal bar in the room 'cos we planned to eat early before going on the train.
We left our bags in the left luggage and headed off to the Moslem Centre. The internet listed it as one of the "must sees". It was basically like the souks and definitely put us in mind of Marrakesh. Donnie and Cath have had a few lessons in haggling and are now at the intermediate level!
We didn't buy much as we knew we had to carry it lots but we're pleased with what we got. (We're not telling you what we bought 'cos you're probably a recipient!). We wandered for a while, took loads of pics and bought magnetic butterflies from a girl whose school mate married a Scottish guy. Getting out of the "souk" was not so easy. John's hurt that we're casting aspersions on his navigational skills. Actually we weren't. It was past beer time and obviously that was not going to be forthcoming in a Moslem area.
We walked until we found a likely source for beer. It was actually a restaurant. Don't know why but the beer turned out to be 45p for a 600ml bottle. We thought she'd made a mistake or perhaps it was just a cover charge and we'd be accused of theft if we left without paying. Nope, 45p it was. (8.40pm 7 hours later and Donnie's still ok!). We had actually bought bun type things to eat sneakily while we had our beer but decided that really would be a bit cheeky in a restaurant!
After another wander we headed back to our "favourite" eating street for a meal. No mishaps, no excitement and nobody disgraced themselves. The excitement was still to come.
From experience we have learnt to allow plenty time for trains etc. 2.5 hours should surely be enough. One would have thought so. Given the central location of our hotel taxis could not stop at the entrance. Taxi rank was near. So near and yet so far. We negotiated the traffic to the island where folk waited. Waited being an incorrect use of the word. In China you queue with your elbows. We were lucky and managed to get 2 taxis. Donnie and Cath disappeared in one. Our driver refused to take us. We don't know why. We fought for a few others and nobody would take us. After another half hour we went back to the hotel in the hope that they would get us one. No joy. They said we should go to the shopping mall and get a bus! Rush hour. Luggage. I think not! After another try at the rank we crossed the road and got a rickshaw. Fortunately we didn't have steamer trunks.
Luckily we met Donnie and Cath no bother. As with Beijing you have to show your ticket to get into the station. There was only one entrance and an enormous crowd all queuing with their elbows. Once past this obstacle we then had to join the mayhem in the waiting area. The train was called and there was more mayhem as zillions of people forced their way up and down several flights of stairs to the platform. Steamer trunks? Yes.
Now on train. Vodkas poured. Life is good again.