by Paul Theroux
A journey through China and through time aboard the railways of China.
|Wheezing to life on a minus 40 degree celsius
morning, a steam engine starts up narrow gauge rails on its daily round
of lumbering villages near Lanxian.
Stroking the firebox, a fireman shovels coal on a small
steam engine that pulls a new locomotive off the assembly line at Datong
|Welders join the boiler to the
frame of a 2,270 horsepower JS 2-8-2 Mikado.
|As I stood on the Great Wall at its very western
terminus near Jiayuguan, I noticed a steam engine in the distance as it
lumbered west beneath the Tien Shan Mountains.
|A railroad worker cleans the running gear of
this narow gauge engine during sub zero weather in northeast China.
Wheels and engine blend in motion as they pass a village
|It's 8 a.m. and still 20 hours to Gulin on
the 32-hour ride from Kunmin.
|A steam engined train
whistles overhead as conventional traffic takes the slow route across this
river in central China.
|Workers restore the railbed to the tracks in
the wake of the Changsha-Shanghai line.
|Tracks pass through the countryside
in Hunan Province.
|A rainy day aboard boat near Guilin.
|As I walked across a small footbridge near
Guilin, I could not help but wonder what was going through the mind of this
duck as he watches his feathered friend being butchered.
|In Xian, I spotted these two women waiting
at a bus stop with this brand new washing machine. Sure enough, they boarded
the next bus with no help or sympathy from other passengers.
|This young boy watched his father playing ice
hockey in a village in Manchuria along the Soviet Border. Temperatures hovered
near 30 below zero.
|In Harbin, we visited a newly renovated hotel. My trusted and faithful interpreter, Wenbin, makes a note after I pointed out the error in spelling for the reception desk.|