The CITS office was on the third floor of the Dong Fang Hotel.
The first train I could catch would be in four days time. I paid for a hard-sleeper and arranged to pick up the ticket the evening before departure; they had to get the ticket from the station.
Train travel in China came in four categories: hard-seat, soft-seat, hard-sleeper, and soft-sleeper. A hard-seat was half the price of a hard-sleeper, but on a thirty-six hour train journey I would need to stretch out if I hoped to get any sleep and arrive in a sane condition.
The Chinese shop for their fresh produce early in the mornings; so fresh that the animals still breathed, jumped, wriggled, or tried to fly away.
Stalls sold live turtles, frogs, crabs, eels, pigeons, and chickens. The cats, I was assured, were sold for the pot, rather than to be fussed over as a pet.
Fish swam in their tanks until they were chosen by the customer, or the stall-holder decided to scale and dice one on the blood-stained chopping-board; its gills still moved and the little heart pumped long after the initial shock of slitting steel.