I had bought a ticket to Jinan for the equivalent of $16. The waiting room in the train station was PACKED. About 15 min before the train was due to board everyone started lining up. When the gate opened people ran, pushed, jumped over the fence and otherwise made a good impression of the Chinese. The train itself was full, or at least it was in the 3rd class carriage where I was. I did at least have a seat, unlike the hundreds of people in the aisle. The seats are vertical and don’t recline or rotate. It was HELL.
I arrived at Jinan about 8am, not that I would have known from the announcement. They do announce the stations but it didn’t sound anything like Jinan at all. I only knew I was in the right place because I’d seen the man next to me was also alighting at Jinan.
Outside the train station there’s a large square with budget restaurants, some internet pits (the one to the left of the booking office is good), and some superettes.
I walked in to the smog, 2km to the north to the long-distance bus station.
The Lonely Planet instructions to get to Zhujiayu actually worked! I was there by early afternoon. A couple of students latched on to me to practise their English. Just as well I had them because the innkeeper only spoke Chinese, and they did all the talking. It cost Y100 for a double room with no shower, and a TV that picked up one channel.
The town itself sees very few European tourists – I had a lot of looks and people had their picture taken with me.
But the village is nice.
Then suddenly . .
The only problem is that the restaurants close after lunch. The only food is from some shops out in the modern part of the village. I ended up with banans and what turned out to be a cream bun!