Lessons of the Road

by Poi on September 6, 2010

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So this being our first major rip, we are bound to make some pretty big mistakes, it’s just inevitable really. So we figured if anyone who is reading this blog plans on going on a trip soon you could learn from us.

Basically don’t ruin your trip with stupid errors, let us make the fuck ups, write about them and then both we (Poi and Kirsty) and you (our dedicated? Readers) can learn from them.

temple of heaven bejing china

Be less like this…..

So lesson 1?…… you have to plan somethings.

Before this trip we were perhaps a little bit too easy going about our plans “yeah we’re just flying to Beijing and then we’ll see what happens”. Well what happened was we got to Beijing spent the first few days running round like crazy tourists and forgot we were meant to be moving on after a week.

So we arrived at Beijing railway station a few days before hoping to move on, thinking everything would be fine.

“Hello there fine railway station ticket sales assistant, may my darling girlfriend Kirsty and I be supplied with a sleeper ticket each for three days’ time please” (that’s how we speak in England)


Turns out sleepers are in high demand, makes sense thinking about it now. There were not tickets available for well over a week, so we were as you might say…..screwed.

We got back to the hostel and spent about an hour with the lovely lady whose job it is to help idiots like us plan train journeys and tours etc. With only a thirty days on our visa we had to look at where we most wanted to go and how we could get there.

So our new plan, we are no longer going to xi’an but instead zooming down south on a rather posh, super-fast train to Hangzhou, Which is fine by me, being possibly the place I’ve been looking forward to most in China.

temple of heaven bejing china

and be more like this!

So to recap – as great as it is to have no plans, sometimes there is no choice but to plan ahead, at least a little so you don’t miss out on anything like we now have. And buy tickets at least five days in advance in china – well Beijing anyway!

Lesson Learnt! Lesson 2 coming soon…. But hopefully not too soon.


{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Sabina September 6, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Hahahaha! I don’t know which is funnier – the post or the photos and captions. But you know, things often strike us as funny when they’re true. And it’s true that planning, unfortunately, is necessary to many an aspect of successful travel. Which I have learned the hard – and unfunny – way, unfortunately. Now I know you have learned the unfunny way too. Thanks for sharing, oh kindred spirits.


Poi September 8, 2010 at 7:28 am

It’s better to find it funny that get wound up about it so we thought what better way than get over it than take the piss out of ourselves!


Globetrottergirls September 6, 2010 at 2:24 pm

We’re taking notes!! This is the second time I read that it apparently very hard to get train tickets on short notice in China – we’re prepared I guess 😉

A super-fancy-fast train doesn’t sound too bad though… enjoy the train ride through China.
Globetrottergirls´s last blog post ..Mazunte- Mexico- As lazy as it gets


Poi September 8, 2010 at 7:29 am

It does seem a bit tricky but it gets harder, we’ve just been in Hangzhou station trying to buy tickets for six days time and been told its too early, they’ll be sold out when we go back tomorrow……


ayngelina September 6, 2010 at 4:21 pm

I was traveling with a boyfriend in Vietnam and decided to just show up at the train station and the same thing happened – we ended up having to get regular seats for a 25 hour train trip. Toward the end we were so cranky we couldn’t even look at each other.


Poi September 8, 2010 at 7:30 am

Ouch – can’t imagine how horrible that must be. We decided straight away it was worth a bit more money to still like each other come the next city.


Nick Laborde September 6, 2010 at 4:27 pm

I to am planning on doing little planning for my trip, I guess I should rethink that.

I will happilly learn from your screw up 😉
Nick Laborde´s last blog post ..7 Harsh Realities And A Thieving Santa


Poi September 8, 2010 at 7:31 am

A little bit of planning is a must – we’re just doing it as we go along, we still have nothing more than the next week planned so plenty of room for change.


Cam September 6, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Ahh, yes. The wonderful world of train travel! Great to learn this important lesson early in the trip. I can’t count the times we’ve had to completely change our plans because we “assumed” it would be super easy to just walk up and book. Although, those are some of the moments you’ll remember most!


Poi September 8, 2010 at 7:32 am

Its definately a good lesson to learn early on, it’s a shame about Xi’an but I’ve been looking forward to Hangzhou for ages!


megan September 7, 2010 at 2:31 am

The exact same thing happened to me when I was in Hong Kong – I thought I could book a sleeper train to Shanghai the day before I wanted to travel – needless to say, that didn’t happen! So I went across to Guangzhou, where the same thing happened again!! Oops.

I learned my lesson though – I booked my train ticket to UB from Beijing weeks ago, and when I get to UB I’ll be booking my ticket back as soon as I step off the train!
megan´s last blog post ..Photo Friday 11- Jordan


Poi September 8, 2010 at 7:39 am

It’s good to see this is a common mistake and we’re not destined for failure! Have fun!


Andi September 7, 2010 at 2:38 pm

I’ve always said that a change in plans works out for the best! Love this post, it will definitely help people!!! Enjoy southern China, but definitely make sure to get to Xi’an–it’s amazing!!!
Andi´s last blog post ..Brasil- Day 4 Part 1


Poi September 8, 2010 at 7:40 am

Thanks Andi! Hangzhou looks great so I’m sure they’ll be no problem enjoying this place. We will definately make it to Xi’an at some point – on this trip, or the next 🙂


Ali September 8, 2010 at 12:41 am

Funny pictures/captions! I’m kind of the opposite, I plan out lots of logistics details when I travel but sometimes get the same result. You just never know what’s going to happen but it’s all part of the fun. You both seem to have a great attitude about the travel mishaps, enjoy!!
Ali´s last blog post ..Las Vegas On and Off the Strip


Poi September 8, 2010 at 7:45 am

We knew we were bound to make mistakes along the way soit’s not too much of a big deal! From now on we will (try) to book train tickets early!


Verity September 8, 2010 at 1:53 am

Haha love the photos! It is so difficult to predict what the situation is going to be in new places. We once got trapped in Venice because we thought we could hop on a train out of there for sure but we managed to time it with this huge festival (which was very awesome) and every single train was booked. We ended up going a very round about route.

It’s good that you guys are flexible, don’t let these little mishaps ruin your trip… they are bound to happen 🙂


Poi September 8, 2010 at 7:47 am

They definately won’t ruin our trip! Atleast you guys got to be part of a festival!


Michael September 8, 2010 at 7:35 am

It can be very hard to plan things in China when depending on the trains. Tickets can be sold in such random times. Just need to go with the flow in China as anything can happen. The holidays are coming up soon (First week of Oct) so it wont get any easier. It’s a shame you’re not coming to Xi’an to visit! Have fun!
Michael´s last blog post ..Story of Escaping the Cubicle Corporate World


Poi September 8, 2010 at 2:52 pm

We knew it would be difficult around the holiday and we were prepared for that but like you say it seems a bit random al the time!


Connie September 9, 2010 at 5:43 am

I loved the pics in this post! Planning never hurts but being open to changing plans at the last minute (because they will always happen) is the best way to travel IMO. Looking forward to hearing more about your China adventures!


Poi September 10, 2010 at 1:15 am

Thanks Connie! The pictures of us seem to be very popular for some reason, perhaps we’ll scrap the writing and just take stupid pictures of ourselves?? what do you think?


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