Outside is Jiangsu. I think it is. It must be. Let me check and confirm, as it could also be Shandong. Yes, north towards Xuzhou, north towards the old bandit borderlands and of Shi Nai’an’s “Shuihuzhuan”, the Water Margin. Wu Song’s battle with the tiger in the mountain was memorable as was Sagacious Lu’s drunken rampages, hiding out in the monastery, but some of the most impressionable memories of that epic revolve around what happened when travellers would roll up to some road side eatery and the proprietor decides to poison and kill you off so as to have at your things. So many of the day to day details of Shi’s sixteenth century depiction of eleventh century Song daily life call out as less fantastic and more likely how it actually might have been, traveling from town to town in those days, when law enforcement wouldn’t have been much anything to rely on and no one was going to critique your restaurant on line.
Xuzhou had a terrible accident yesterday. Apparently, a kindergarten in the northern Jiangsu city had a terrific explosion, which killed eight people and injured dozens more. Cruelly, the blast, which a clip shows as a tremendous force, went off as parents were lining up outside the building to pick up their kids. An exploding gas cylinder was what caused the blast. One can only imagine that more than a few people will pay for this deadly oversight. A family in front of me has boarded the train here at the Xuzhou station. They are sitting down now with their kindergarten age child, who is crying and fidgeting. I wonder how close this all was to they, themselves. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4607152/Explosion-strikes-Chinese-kindergarten.html
The land is drier up here. The great transformation from the water culture of Huadong, up to the wheat growing yellow earth of Shandong is nearly complete. The villages are no longer white washed with curved back roof detail These are rougher and in the winter, warmer construction of ochre daub and wattle that match with the dry ground, the dry rocks. In China you don’t get a happy sign saying “you have just entered Shandong Province, land of Confucius, Mencius and SunZi!” If there was, I would have just passed it. One day maybe. The GPS confirms it my geographic assumption.
This is most assuredly not a Japanese train. Everyone is talking audibly on phones. It would be utterly ridiculous for me or anyone to ask another person to refrain from talking. It would be akin to asking people to hold their breath for a while. This suits me as I have tunes, that block out the noise and in about seven minutes I’ll be joining a call of my own. Let’s see if I can connect and hold the call moving at 300 kilometers per hour. Someday I must really go see that Weishan Lake that the map says is just over there, and where once upon a time Wu Song and Lu Da and the boys set up their rebel fort.