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It has been two years since I last stepped foot in this country. In some respect, things have really changed - new buildings, new shops, more western amenities, a booming capitalist economy. But as much as these changes make westerners feel less out of place in a foreign culture, there’s no escape from some of the craziness that goes on here.

Today I made a pilgrimage back to a familiar place. Having not slept much the past few nights, I made the rookie mistake of purchasing “hard seat” train tickets when I could have easily bought “soft seat” ones. Unless you’ve experienced the train system for yourself, you probably won’t understand how much of a difference one US dollar makes on your riding experience.

I fought through a sea of people to reach my assigned seat, only to find that two people squeezed into the seat I had paid for. Being the mean person that I am, I kicked them off and attempted to take a nap with my earphones on. In the middle of the trip, the guy next to me taps my shoulder to wake me up, saying …

man: young man, I recommend you take those earphones off
Me: (a bit taken back that he just woke me up to give unsolicited advice) why?
man: HOW can you not understand the most ELEMENTARY of explanations?
Me: huh?
man: listening to music like that will mess with your brain wave. You won’t be able to think and it will destroy your brain cells. Don’t you get headaches when you listen to music?
me: no, I feel fine
man: take it off for an hour, and tell me if it doesn’t help …
me: (takes my ear phones off – secretly wishing if I took then off, he would stop talking to me)
man: am I right, or am I right?
me: yes, you make a lot of sense …

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  • Blogger Giselle says so:
    2:41 PM  

    haha! nice conversation :)
    thanks for sharing. i miss the craziness of it all. San Diego is way too normal (boring.) hope those brain waves are doing okay you're going to need them for bschool :p top

  • Blogger Krista says so:
    5:41 PM  

    I had to laugh when I imagined you saving a dollar to ride hard seat. The soft seat trains are so nice and modern now! Enjoy your visit, I'm going on 3 years without being back. I miss it. top

  • Blogger Ken says so:
    2:03 AM  

    believe me when I say that I didn't try to save a dollar, it just happened to be the first time available. I rode the new super fast train back though - 35 minutes! how things have changed. top