3 Chinese, an English girl and a pillow

Question: How many people does it take to deflate a travel pillow?

Answer: Three Chinese and one English girl.

So I was on my overnight train journey back to Beijing but this time as an experienced overnight train traveller. I knew my slippers would be delivered at 9pm, I knew the radio would be turned off at 9.30pm and I also knew that a little Chinese lady would open my door and wake me up at 7am but what I didn't know was…

how to deflate my inflatable travel pillow!

After discreetly trying to pump the air out of it for 20 minutes, I gave up. This pillow wasn't going down without a fight. I looked to the 3 Chinese people whom I had woken to, all staring at me, and using the clever art of body language, I tried to resuscitate my cushion. They looked at me weirdly, (very used to that), so I put the cushion in front of them – after all, I had to get this thing deflated.

They each tried the same technique and were baffled why it wasn't going down. We all waved our arms in the air in confusion. And then the old lady (who I found out later was actually one of the men's wives – although he was younger than me and she was born in 1943 – work that one out!) had a Eureka moment and pulled a hair pin from her bun.

Sticking it in the hole of the cushion, there was a gush of air and the pillow finally collapsed to a carriage full of happy faces.

What a great ice-breaker!

My rescuers


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