Another blog from: Anthonyslark@yahoo.co.uk
My old friends will already know about this very embarrassing thing which happened to me on a long distance train in China several years ago when I was on a one month backpacking trip by road, rail and air.. It wasn’t the train in the picture but an express train from Hangzhou to Guangzhou (Canton). The journey time was twenty seven hours and we were travelling in a hard class sleeping car.
We were seated in our compartment and seated opposite to us was a very pleasant Chinese couple who didn’t speak a word of English. The train miraculously wasn’t full so we had plenty of room on the seat and the couple opposite placed some full supermarket bags on the seat near me.
About an hour after leaving from Hangzhou I was feeling hungry and we had been to a supermarket in Hangzhou to buy water, tea, snacks, instant noodles, chocolate, biscuits and bread. I took a plastic bag and started rummaging through it to see what we could easily prepare in our seats. The bag was quite full so I took out many things and placed them on the seats. NSC was also interested in eating and the very friendly Chinese couple opposite were smiling so I took out some oranges and biscuits and offered to them. They were very polite and declined. I selected two noodle pots because on Chinese long distance trains there are urns of boiling water at the end of each coach for passengers to use for their tea and instant noodles. I again asked the friendly couple if they would like some noodles but they declined with smiles. I went to make the noodles at the end of the coach and NSC and I satisfied our hunger. I was confused because I couldn’t remember buying the same flavour noodles.
Suddenly it hot me like a ton of hot bricks. They were not our noodles. I asked NSC but he didn’t know. I looked again at the bags and oh my God, I had been rummaging through the shopping of the friendly Chinese couple sitting opposite. I had offered them their own food and we had eaten their food and they hadn’t shown even the slightest annoyance. I felt myself going very red. I felt terrible. I tried to explain to the couple opposite who had watched the whole thing in silence. But of course they couldn’t understand my words. I quickly found the correct pot noodles in our own bags and tried to give them to the Chinese couple but they just smiled and declined. I offered them chocolate, red wine, everything I could find but they just declined with grins from ear to ear. I guess they had understood from the beginning that I had made a huge mistake.
This was one of the most embarrassing times of my life.