I was finishing the research for SILK ROAD. We were on a train from Xian to Kashgar, three days that would take us south of the Great Wall, skirt the Taklimakan desert and on towards the Pamir Mountains and the distant Stans – Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan.
It was dinner time. We went into the dining car and sat down. The menu was in Mandarin, of course, but never mind, once we saw something we liked on another table we would just point.
We looked around. There was nothing that didn’t look like gristle floating in fat.
So we ordered two beers while we thought about it. The beers came warm, in a big wooden bowl.
Okay, never had beer that way before. Something new.
The guy sitting at the table in front of us stood up and patted his belly with both hands. Wow, he must have enjoyed whatever he had.
Or maybe not so much.
Because next thing, he projectile vomited down the aisle of the dining car. It hit the door behind us like pellets out of a shotgun. There was a stunned silence.
The guy nodded and walked out. The waitresses ran up with a cloth and a bucket of water and gave them to his wife. She then got down on her hands and knees and started mopping up after him.
We finished our beers. The waitress came over and pointed to the menu. We shook our heads. What’s: ‘Thanks but we’ve lost our appetite,’ in Mandarin?
We lived on biscuits and chocolate bars the next three days. Never mind, when we got to Kashgar, things were bound to get better.
We reached our hotel. There was a tourist standing outside.
We waved. He leaned over and threw up.
Welcome to the world of research.
Wednesday: The Joys of Research #2. Why not to get off a train in Siberia in the middle of the night.