A ROW OF HOLLOW fish eyes stare back at me from the metal tray. I pretend to bite my arm and then vigorously shake my head. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t work. How do you mime “I’m a vegetarian”? The woman across from me is still wearing her expectant smile and the fish are going nowhere.
As far as I can work out, I’m the only foreigner on this entire train. Kunming station had been bustling with travelers – families, students, soldiers, all filtered through grimly efficient security checks and x-rays – but I hadn’t seen any other obvious tourists. Now, peering through rain-spattered windows on a grey October morning, I can see that we’ve finally left the urban sprawl behind and are somewhere high, somewhere cloudy, somewhere where people appear to live in small stone houses surrounded by little other than mud and solitude, with panoramas that probably never reveal themselves.