Tuesday, 4 January 2011

31 January 1914

Trip to Fanling
The 31st of January 1914 was Chinese New Year and we had two days holiday, so we went to a place on the mainland of China called Fan-ling and from there took what they called the light railway to Kai-cho-kow.  We shall never forget  that railway ride as long as we live.  There were three trucks where it was possible to sit down and three where is was not possible because they were similar to cattle trucks or rather coal trucks - not having high sides and no top and it was only in the latter that we found room to pack in.  And my G** we were packed like sardines.  Well the express started and so did we.  Laughing I mean.  It was just like being electrocuted.  Our teeth chattered in our heads and all the false teeth were shaken down and everybody stuttered when they attempted to speak, and the terrible noise of the rattling of the sides and tailboards and loose planks, well is indescribable for you could not hear yourself speak.  Well eventually we got to the end of our journey and upon making enquiries, we were informed that the train left again in ten minutes time for the return journey, just as we were saying thank God that is over.  But it was not - for we had to go by that train back or loose our connection to the mainline.  We expected to have about 2 hours by the seaside at Meroe Bay before we returned.

Well we all took our stand again.  Those that were not fortunate enough to have seats.  I managed to get one for Marian on the backward journey.  But I think it was worse than standing up, for I could look back to the truck where Marian was and see her head bobbing up and down like a scarecrow on a windy day.  Well we had not gone far before someone dropped their handbag.  They waived their hand to the driver and he stopped the express.  They ran back pick up the handbag and away we went again at the rate of 60 miles (a week?)  We had not gone many hundreds of miles before we saw some English Ladies and Gents - 4 in number - waiving their hands to our driver, he stopped the express, they took a snap-shot of us and away we went again only to stop once more to take on water.  My truck was next to the engine so I got out and went back to see how Marian was getting on and they enquired of me what are we stopped for now?  I said:  To give the horse a drink.  They said oh!  We have had a rough journey.  I told them it was alright in our truck because we had no wheels.  As a matter of fact none of the trucks had any springs.  Well at last we arrived back at Fan-ling and met the remainder of our party that did not take the ride on the light railway, and so we told them what a good time we had had, and what they had missed etc.  I hope we shall be forgiven.  We were more like a Minstrel Troop than anything else.  What with the perspiration and then the smoke and soot and hot cinders from the Rocket George Stevenson's Puffing Billy and we tried to kid ourselves we had had a good time.  I shall advise everyone who goes to Fan-ling to take the light Railway to Kai-cho-kow, but never again for this chicken!

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