As I write this, I’m sitting on a bus in the Chinese capital…. I finally got brave enough to leave Dalian. Well I was brave because 2 of my advanced students so graciously offered to come with me and show me around!
We started off from the Train station. True to Chinese style, there was a huge group of people standing in a waiting area. So we put down our bags and were just waiting. Due to my obliviousness and the fact I don’t understand anything being said around me, all of a sudden there was a push forward and the girls said grab your stuff! We are going!! So the nice huge mob surged forward, with no line or anything. I’ve accepted the fact that being polite is rather to push the people in front of you, instead of letting someone go in front of you, because by pushing the person in front of you, they get there faster! After I was swept through the gate, we made our way to the train.
In China, there is no such thing as capacity or fire hazard laws, so when they sold out of seats on the train, they started to sell standing tickets…. For a 12 hour train ride!!! My group had the misfortune to get such tickets, so we had to get a little creative to find seats. I made peanut butter sandwiches to show the girls something American, and we kept making jokes that I could trade American food for a seat. We ended up meeting a girl that was from the same small town as the other of of my students traveling with us, and she said we could share seats.
The amount of people on the train without seats astounded me! I was also very surprised, everyone was so friendly! People would scoot over to fit an extra person on their bench, or take a turn standing. People brought little camp stools, we even used a bag of blankets to sit on. Everyone would camp out in the isle. About every hour the snack cart would come through, and everyone would have to clear the isle…. It was crazy, suddenly people were stacked up on top of each other!
About half way through the trip, a group got brave enough to want to talk to me in English. They very graciously pulled me into one of the seats, and wouldn’t let me leave for the rest of the trip…. I had to fight and promise to come back just to go to the bathroom!!! It was fun to talk to them, and they all wanted to take their picture with me.
The train ride was 12 hours, and I slept 2… By the time we got to Beijing and found Aubrey’s friends home, it was 7 am! So day 1 of Beijing was spent sleeping, going to the supermarket, and going to one of the universities to visit Another friend of the girls.
Their friend treated us to this very nice dinner with fish stew, and caramelized sweet potatoes (which are my new favorite food, it was literally sweet potatoes swimming in caramel….. Delicious!!!!!!)
Lots of love from the train celebrity 🙂