Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge:

Vanishing Lines

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Each week Cee of Cee’s Photography challenges bloggers with a fun prompt. This week we’re to share photos with colors that show a harvest or fall in all its glory.

Click here to see more vanishing lines, click here.

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Which Way Challenge

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Howard Street Station, Red Line

The Which Way Challenge, that Cee began, has been picked up by the Sonofthebeach69 blogger.  The beauty of it is that it’s free form. You can include images of doors, gates, roads, streets, exits, signs, paths, waterways, you name it.

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See more Which Way photos by clicking here.

Which Way Challenge

 

The Which Way Challenge, that Cee began, has been picked up by the Sonofthebeach69 blogger.  The beauty of it is that it’s free form. You can include images of doors, gates, roads, streets exits, signs, paths, waterways, you name it.

See more Which Way photos by clicking here.

Sepia Saturday

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From LOC, Flickr Commons. Date: between 1865 – 1870

The prompt for this month is “Travel or Transport,” which provides loads of inspiration. My favorite is the image above as it’s so whimsical.

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LOC, Flickr Commons. Doesn’t this beckon you still?

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I’ve never traveled this way. Would you like to try? (LOC, Flickr Commons.)

Poem of the Week

The Sound of a Train
by Faith Shearin

Even now, I hear one and I long to leave
without a suitcase or a plan; I want to step
onto the platform and reach for
the porter’s hand and buy a ticket
to some other life; I want to sit
in the big seats and watch fields
turn into rivers or cities. I want to eat
cake on the dining car’s
unsteady tablecloths, to sleep
while whole seasons
slip by. I want to be a passenger
again: a person who hears the name
of a place and stands up, a person
who steps into the steam of arrival.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Intricate

Train, Japan

Train, Japan

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Other great photos:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

Inside a semi-local train

Inside a semi-local train

Chicago, train 148

Exquisite Lobby, Downtown Chicago

Inside the Chicago Public Library's YouMedia

Inside the Chicago Public Library’s YouMedia

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Other great photos:

Night Train to Datong

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Soft Sleeper (below there’s a table with a fake rose)

I had four days off in a row and took the opportunity to go to Datong so I could see the Yungang Caves and the Hanging Temple. Datong’s off the beaten path and there’s only one train a day there. I’ve taken the night trains here though it’s been a while.

I was delighted when I got on board though. Clean bunks. Just four to a room and a fake red rose on our little table. I wasn’t crazy about having the top bunk, but what I could I do? I was lucky to get tickets. I had a good time chatting and sharing sunflower seeds with a woman in the next cubicle as we looked out the window. And — I actually got some sleep.

Hard Sleeper, clean, but ascetic

Hard Sleeper, clean, but ascetic

Last night I expected the same kind of bunk. I assumed that the way out was the hard sleeper since it’s been awhile since I took a slow train in China. Also, the soft sleepers in Thailand are so posh. There’s two to a room and you have a sink and mirror. You’ve got more space.

Well, this isn’t Thailand. The first night was the soft sleeper and now I’m suddenly less impressed. I realize that my second ticket was much cheaper and I had a hard sleeper and I was on the top bunk. The thought of climbing up that ladder didn’t thrill me. I knew I’d go up and down exactly once. Also, my goal was to use the bathroom as little as possible, which I did. I do have to say the bathroom in 2nd class was no worse than the one in first.

This ride started earlier so we left at 4 pm which meant a longer time perched by the window on the fold down chair. I did get to see the landscape and finish my novel. I did succeed in getting up and down the ladder without bodily harm, but I didn’t sleep a wink. There was just too much noise. The guy across from me really has some breathing issues. Not just snoring, but all his nocturnal breathing should be looked at. It made waking at 4:30am to disembark at 5 am easy enough.

Still the journey was straightforward and there were no problems. I do wonder if it isn’t better to go soft seat on such a train. As uncomfortable as my night was, the train was better in some ways than Amtrak. A sleeper bunk is at least affordable. If I had a lower bunk, it would have been fine. I could sit up better and wouldn’t have to deal with the fear of falling from that little ladder.

The Tickets

Well, today was supposed to be the big day, the day we could purchase our train tickets back to Jinan. I got some students to write a note explaining what I needed to a ticket agent. I was told the booking agency opened at 9am and I didn’t know if there’d be a line because of the holiday so I went at 8:30.

One man was ahead of me. He soon got his tickets. My turn. The woman looked at my note like it was a used tissue, but she did check her computer. She then said something I didn’t understand. The college kids behind me giggled and shrugged their shoulders. They weren’t going to be able to help. I called the foreign affairs office and gave the phone to the agent. I then learned that the tickets from that city couldn’t be sold till 3 or 4 pm today and the agent wasn’t sure when. Huh?

Is this a system? A system for a country that’s got 1.3 billion and sophisticated high speed trains that Americans only dream of? I guess it is.

I really had some doubts about whether I was getting the full story. Yet there was absolutely nothing I could do about that. I told the assistant, who had at the start of all this told everyone she would buy our tickets if we were going away, that it seemed we’d have to wait till she could do this at 4pm.

Well, long story short 4pm arrives and there’s no word. At 5pm we find out all the sleeper cars are sold out. Neither of us wants to do two 11 hour overnight trips in a hard seat. So we’re flying. I booked tickets with elong.com and a blogger saw my earlier post and said we should leave from nearby Zhengzhou, not Luoyang (which would mean traveling via Beijing and spending twice as much money).

I’m not thrilled, to say the least. I feel this process was bungled and we tried so hard when things were looking bad to do it ourselves, but it’s just not possible. Even if I spoke Chinese, I’d have run into trouble as the system’s so complicated and mysterious.

I am happy to have a way back and will just have to live with the added expense. We’ll also have to find another hotel room. I’ll figure that out shortly.