When we left the Yangshuo area, we felt like we had really entered China. No internet, no English signs, nobody who spoke English to help us. First we took a three hour taxi ride to Liuzhou. We rode through miles and miles of farming country under a heavy sky that got darker with each mile.
We thought that we had no idea what to expect when we got to Liuzhou, but, when we got there we realized that we had expected some signs in English. There were none. The train station was big and looked great from the outside but the inside was sort of sterile and dirty at the same time.
We got there at 7PM expecting to eat before our 9:15 "soft sleeper" to Zhangjiajie and we sort of fantazied that we would have an internet connection, but there was no restuarant, no snack shop; so Michele wandered out into the city and got some food in strafoam boxes that we ate in the waitingroom.
We were the only westerners in the train station and everybody watched us as we ate. The schedule sign did have our train number, 2012, so we felt fairly confident that we would get on the right train.
The train ride turned out to be completely painless bordering on comfortable.