At the station, I asked for a ticket to Beijing.
"Which one?" the voice boomed through the microphone.
I could hardly see the face through the little hole in the wall.
"The next one please."
Sun Xyzia had told her father that she wanted to show me some more of her town.
"Would you like to see the Friendship Store?" was her suggestion to me, that would get us out of the house.
Then we walked along the river, under an arch of a water fountain, across the big blue bridge to the new main station with its large flower arrangement in the road that everybody posed beside for photographs.
"The river at night is really nice," she said.
Was I being invited to stay? But she said no more, and we walked our last hour side by side, being constantly stared at.
The waiting room was like a cattle station. Passengers for various trains waited in allocated rows behind metal gates. They were allowed on to the platform ten minutes before the train was due.
They pushed and shoved, people jumped over seats, and bags that jammed in the door caused an irritating delay.
It was a near stampede, and there wasn't even a train to get excited about. When the train did come there was no chance of a seat. I sat on my bag for the journey to the 'Northern Capital'.