I interviewed Bob Gambol before I left Yuma. His story is so interesting I can't resist printing previews of his adventures on my blog. This segment was from 1991 when China was still a Communist country.
“I was on the platform at a stop at Guan Zou on my way to Chon Quing and I hooked up with a Chinese gal who had left home. She got manhandled at the border crossing and she asked me, “Can I travel with you? I’m afraid.” So, she stuck close to me for several days until she got her confidence back. O
“In the Port city of Chon Quing I couldn’t get a ride hitching because there were few private cars. So I caught a local train to the end of the line which happened to be a restricted city closed to tourists. The officials there got a woman interpreter and she interrogated me. They thought I was some kind of spy. I told them I was just an old codger wanting to see the country. "Well, you can’t stay here" I was told. After the questioning, hell, I didn’t have anything on me but my backpack, they put me in a hotel, at no cost, but I couldn’t walk around. They told me I’d have to leave in the morning. I didn’t have to pay for meals either. They fed me and sent me back to Chon Quing.
“I took a Chinese cargo boat down river through the gorges to Wu Han. It was a triple-decker where you slept in hammocks on deck. What a fantastic view of the real China. At the end of the line, they didn’t have much in the way of accommodations for tourists and I stayed over in the Rail Road Hotel. They let me stay there, which isn’t the norm. I traveled on from there by rail to Beijing. The train that I took had open pit toilets which were just holes in the bottom of the train.
“In China, riding the rails going west, the train would run over something, including people. The engineer would just stop and they'd just drag whatever it was off the tracks and go on.
To be continued-