Christmas Weekend – Part 2 – A Long Way to Edinburgh

Our train ride to Edinburgh was quite an experience. The strong gale wind uprooted a tree and it fell onto the railway track. Our 5-hour train ride became a 12-hour nightmare with lots of confusion and chaos. It was a dreadful experience but I took it positively as one meaningful lesson.

Thousands of us found ourselves stranded at a small train station at Preston. There were confusing instructions. Some said we needed to take a bus to Carlisle train station to continue our ride to Edinburgh. Some said there was a train to Carlisle and we needed not to leave the platform. And some said there will be another train to Edinburgh but they were unsure if it will come.

We had no idea who to follow. My instincts told me to follow a group of Chinese tourists (who were on walkie talkies) as they were seen more resourceful, aggressive and reactive to such crisis. Perhaps, they will lead me to the solution. However, the English remained so calm and told us to hang around with them. In the end, we saw the crowd heading to another platform. We followed the crowd to board a train that stated “London”. Thousands of them can’t be wrong.

I was impressed by the politeness and calmness of the Brits. Maybe it is something so common that this disruption didn’t bother them. There was no grumble, no panic, no mad rush and no commotion. Everything is in good order.

The train was packed with people. People were cramping at the aisles and near to the compartment doors. It was like the Indian Railways, we forced ourselves into the cabin and sandwiched ourselves with the Brits. They were very friendly and made space for us. Throughout the ordeal, the Brits cracked jokes and made small talks amongst them. It helped to ease the situation and tension. Everyone was polite and gracious despite this inconvenience. And a couple of the young Brits offered their seats to the needy (like young children and old folks).

I stood 3 hours from Preston to Carlisle. It was unpleasant. Lacking of air and ample space to stretch my legs, my back and feet were aching. The Brits in my coach were really kind and generous. They were offering candies and snacks to the other passengers.

At Carlisle train station, we went to board a connecting diesel train to Edinburgh. That was another 2-hour ride. Tracy and I took turns to sit. By the time we arrived at Edinburgh, it was already at night.

Aching and mentally exhausted, we were so thankful and relief when the train arrived at Edinburgh. We quickly checked in our hotel, dropped all our loads and dashed out for a nice delicious Chinese dinner.

This was an eye-opening experience for me. It showed the true reflection of a graceful society. The Brits left me a very good impression. A couple of months ago during the typhoon season, I was on a train to Guangzhou and it was delayed by only 30 minutes, the Chinese passengers fought against their own kind in the cabin. I can imagine if this happens in China, India or even Singapore, there will ugly spats and fights amongst us. It takes a crisis to see the true colours of a nation. I sincerely hope we pass the test if such unfortunate event ever occurs in our country.

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