Vietnam Border to KunmingTuesday, 12 April 2005
It’ s pre-dawn as the train rolls in to Lao Cai, the Vietnamese border town for China. The border doesn’t open until 7am, so I wander around and stop for a bowl of pho, the all-purpose Vietnamese noodle soup, before taking a motorcycle taxi 2km to the border and walk across to Hekou in China.
◄ The Vietnam-China border
‘There is no train,’ is the first thing I hear as I step through the door. ‘It was so slow, nobody took it; now it only carries freight,’ is the young guy’s explanation.
The bus station is only a 30-second stroll from the frontier, so with money from an ATM in my wallet and a ticket in my pocket I ponder the gruesome posters of road deaths illustrating the station wall. 100,000 people a year die on China’s roads, and the posters seem to indicate an awful lot of them are bus passengers. Not very reassuring!
It’s a 10-hour ride to Kunming – winding, then climbing, and then a real divided road tollway with a lot of tunnels along the way. In two days I’ve gone from being sweatily hot to shiveringly cold. I add a sweater and then a coat and I’m still frozen. The ‘new China under construction’ is visible everywhere from this new road to the constant construction zones, floodlit billboards and glossy cars, but I’m glad to roll into Kunming, jump in a taxi and get straight to a hotel.
God it’s confusing typing this. Everything is in the standard Microsoft places, but all the words are in Chinese. Now is that My Computer or My Documents?? Save or Close?