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Another fabulous day of sunny weather and hiking. Despite going to bed at 3 (for reasons vaguely connected to apple crumbles, the Big Bang theory and mosquitoes) and a stubborn cold, I got up at 7, tanked up on coffee and set out to come back after 12 hours of hills, tea fields, good food, fresh (well, fresher) air. I’m in a state of absolute elation with the beauty and perfection of this day (elation possibly aggravated by slight fever. The runny nose, however, is not helping with the effusions). I wish I could describe it all to you, but 1) it’s pointless, 2) you’ll see the photos when I upload them and 3) it’s always boring to hear someone gushing over things like pretty clouds, shrubberies and little beetles.

So let’s proceed to something that will generate more emotions, namely the getting-there and getting-back phase: the bus trips.

Now I have to say straight away that I’m not an expert on the local public transport, seeing as I’ve been avoiding the buses like the plague and sticking to my rickety bike.

Turns out I’ve been right to do so.

A Chinese bus during rush hours, I’ll have you know, winds its way through the city like an enormous and slightly sick turtle with a limp – the problem with the metaphor here is that the said turtle would actually be quicker.

It’s also filled to the point of bursting with people doing all of the following (in no particular order):

1) squeezing in through the front door so they can pay the fare,

2) trying to elbow their way to the back door so they can get out,

3) pushing in through the back door as there’s not a remote chance of making it in through the front door now,

4) sleeping,

5) translating your conversation to their non-English speaking companions, then being surprised when you in turn translate their conversation to your non-Chinese speaking companions,

6) vomiting,

7) missing their stops as the driver decides to skip them since there’s no space left for anyone who’d like to get on,

8 ) hammering on the door and yelling at the driver to open it because they want to get off,

9) passing on messages when the bus is stuck in a jam between the stops. An example of such message: “Driver, open the door, please – there’s a child that badly needs to pee!”

In short, time your trip well and you get a day-full of experience compressed into 30 minutes – a miracle of time-continuum physics for mere 2 yuan. Bon voyage!