I was forced to travel soft-sleeper back to Beijing, so I made use of the first class waiting-room away from the masses.
There were glass-topped tables in between the soft, brown armchairs.
I made myself comfortable by a table in the corner, spread out my book, notebook, pencils, and sharpener.
The pendulum of the solid clock swung gently behind its glass front. I had two and a half hours to wait, plenty of time to think, reflect, and plan.
I spread out my map of the People's Republic and tried to co-ordinate some plans to coincide with trains in the timetable I had bought in Beijing.
From Inner Mongolia I hoped to swing south to Chengdu and Kunming, and back round to the warmer climes of Canton and Hong Kong.
The thought of a winter in the sun relieved my wind-burnt face and chilly feet.
In Hong Kong I had some processed film to be picked up and a flight reservation to Melbourne. Tibet was a possibility, but perhaps I was ill-equipped for the cold and would better appreciate the Guilin landscape.
I would take it from Hohhot.