March 6, 2003

Of course, we love Ayumi

I took a train from YueYang to Changsha — the capital of Hunan province and also the city where Chairman Mao went to school. I got talking with the woman sitting across. She said she was a regular traveler between her parent’s home in YueYang and her husband’s home in Changsha. We talked about her childhood days in YueYang. My favourite part was watching her gaze out of the window and sometimes smiling when she reminisced some happy or funny story.

Woman from YueYang

I love listening to the stories of people, and their growing up experience. At the train station in Changsha, she wrote her mobile number on a post-it for me. She said Changsha is a bigger city compared to YueYang. I should be careful, and I should call her if I needed any help. I didn’t encounter any scam in Changsha, but the post-it still serves as a bookmark for my China guidebook.

Earlier in the week, I had taken the train from Guangzhou to YueYang. In that train too, I made friends with some students, a businessman who was a stamp collector (luckily I always carry many stamps), and a kindly couple who packed some fruits for me as a farewell gift. One student was returning home from Japan, where she had been an exchange student. I asked her if she wanted to go back to Japan to work. She replied that still resented Japan’s violence against the Chinese and she didn’t want to live long term in Japan. The student had a soft-drink bottle that was endorsed by Ayumi (Ayumi Hamasaki, a Japanese singer). I pointed it out the picture of Ayumi. The girl just laughed and replied, of course, we love Ayumi”.

China Trains

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Chairman Mao was a good boy Changsha was a pleasant city. The biggest problem I had was to bargain my hotel prices down. I walked around the city. The city centre looked like a