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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 45: 8 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysAt sunset Swan Lake is playing over the PA as we head out of Hangyang. The chef excels himself and provides the best train meal in 45 days. Pigeon in soy sauce, squid on a hot plate, with tomato, pork and sea-turtle casserole, fish cutlet, and in the Chinese manner, just as you think the meal is over, soup - in this case cucumber and egg-white. In Intermediate Class they're playing draughts. A lot of people are smoking. The land outside is very dark. The stations we pass through are dismally lit, though large crowds still wait patiently on the platforms.

At Zhuzhou station at 10.15, Dave Passepartout goes in search of digestive biscuits, a man goes along checking the axle temperature with his bare hands and Mr Xie wants to draw me into conversation about the book I'm reading: The Horse's Mouth by Joyce Carey.

'This look very serious book, Mr Mike.'

When I tell him that much of it is raucously funny, he seems very disappointed.

Later, I'm comfortable under the thick duvet but lie awake for quite a while, listening to the ever-changing sounds of the train. It seems wrong to waste any of China in sleep.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 45
  • Date: 8 November
  • Country/sea: China
  • Place: Guangzhou
  • Book page no: 153

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