It never ceases to surprise me how apathetic and harmonious Chinese people are in some situations. Right now as I type the bloke sitting next to me is puffing away like a chimney, oblivious the no smoking signs plastered everywhere. Nobody (except myself) seems to care, or even notice this. If he wants to smoke there are other rooms for this, Is is unreasonable of him to move elsewhere?
To me (and I think most westerners) it’s completely anti-social and unacceptable to do such, as most of us believe that one person doing something at the expense of others is not okay – especially if that habit has a detriment on a third parties health.
Anyway, I was meaning to get onto where I went during the holiday or where I tried to go at least. On Tuesday I planned to go to Jilin city with a few friends however we ended up not getting further than Changchun’s suburbs before coming back.
In the morning we went to the Changchun long-distance bus station just south of the train station, to buy our tickets to Jilin. This was easy, each ticket costing 24 yuan each and a bus leaving every ten minutes. The bus station really is a complete mess of a building and should be demolished ASAP and replaced with something more suitable for a city the size of Changchun. Basically to find your bus you have to go back outside the bus station walk around to the left down a small hutong whereupon you’ll see buses and coaches all lined up back to back.
It makes the train station seem like a bastion of good organisation, and that’s saying something.
So we walked down the small lane (called yellow river road or huang he lu 黄河路) trying to find the coach to Jilin whilst avoiding the hawkers and rip-off merchants trying to get their extra jiao. The buses to jilin were lined up on the right side of the lane and after enquiring with one of the conductors we were told that we have to pay an extra 12yuan per person to get onto the bus – as these buses took only 1.5 hours. I immediatily (and wrongly) assumed that this was some sort of foreign laowai tax, a scam. However upon closer inspection they were (all the buses to Jilin) making everyone pay this extra ‘surcharge’ – so there was nothing we could do but pay the extra and forget about it.
Once upon the bus we sat down and waited. And waited. And waited. We finally left after 45 minutes of waiting. Waiting for what I don’t know. The coach was crammed with people, probably more people standing in the aisles than sitting. They brought their own fold-up wooden stools with them to make the ride more comfortable. When we finally started moving the coach must have got up to 20mph maximum. We coasted for 45 minutes, and it took 1 hour to get out of the city! I saw a sign It read Jilin City 108km.
Why this bus was so slow is beyond me, though I think we just got unlucky. Other buses were overtaking us. But what annoys me is that nobody else said anything about the bus being slow, they just accepted it – perhaps deep down they know that there really is nothing you can do about it. And that there is zero chance of getting a refund.
We all decided to get off the bus and come home as by the time we got there it would be time to come home anyway! So we bailed in a small town near to changchun and took a local bus back to town. It was an experience anyway!