It’s no dream, I’m finally here. Right now I’m typing this on an overnight sleeper train, it’s 8 am and we’re about an hour or so from Beijing. It’s been about two days since we checked in at San Francisco Int’l, so there’s a lot to recap.
We left Grand Central a little past 2 am, early Monday morning. Marcus drove Johncai and me to SFO, while Carlton and Ivan came along as well. At the airport, we ended up in about three wrong lines and even a wrong terminal before finally getting ourselves checked in.
Thanks for the company guys! This photo is taken right as we were finally getting to be checked in, after spending about two hours waiting in the wrong lines. You may note a recent trend, when ridiculous things happen, Carlton is usually present (examples: Public Storage incident, midnight in Texas incident…etc).
Our air travel portion this trip consists of a three hour layover in Vancouver (we’re flying Air Canada) before taking off over the Pacific to Shanghai.
Nice weather and nice everything greeting us as soon as stepped off the plane in Vancouver. Here, you can sort of see the beautiful treeline that sits just beyond the airport tarmac. It’s almost as if we were right next to Banff (which is sort of true I guess, apparently it only takes a few hours drive from here). Johncai also has a video of the inside of the Vancouver airport, there’s native american wood decor and running water ways everywhere. He may post it soon.
Back on the plane.
It was an uneventful 12 hour flight to Shanghai. Here is Johncai looking out the window just as we were about to land. It was raining when we got there, and as soon as we stepped off the plane, we were greeted with a colliding wall of humidity.
Johncai’s uncle greeted us at the airport, and took on the bus and taxi from there to his apartment, which is actually really close to Fudan University (a bus stop away) where our program will take place. This is a view from their apartment. Grandma Cai cooked us up dinner, consisting of some tasty traditional dishes. We showered and rested for a bit, and then walked over to the nearby metro station to ride the metro (sort of like the BART) to Shanghai’s main train depot. It just occurred to me that, in the course of the past day or so, I’ve traveled by plane, train, metro, bus, taxi, and foot. Cool.
We boarded an overnight train from Shanghai to Beijing. The journey is supposed to take around 12-13 hours.
Four available train classes: hard seat, soft seat, hard sleeper, or soft sleeper. We took the hard sleeper (pictured above), which is actually a misnomer, because the bed isn’t completely hard – it comes with pillow, blanket, and linens, it’s also padded with about a couple inches of cushion. It’s six beds to a unit, and Johncai and I both got the bottom bunks. The space here a bit cramped, but more than comfortable. There’s sink facilities, hot water for beverages and noodles, and best of all, squat toilets. Don’t worry, I’m not posting pictures of those. (fyi. the soft sleeper is really nice, it comes four beds with nice thick mattresses, a closing door, personal privacy curtains, bathroom and hot water dispenser to each unit). After getting settled in for a bit and touching base with George on my phone (50 rmb for a sim card with a mobile number), we knocked out pretty quickly at around 9:30pm.
Woke up at around 5:30am from what felt like the best sleep I’ve had in a while. I guess I was a lot more tired than I had first thought. This train moves pretty fast, but even then, we still have a ways to go before we arrive.
Morning DT. Please pray for us. Pray that we will maintain our focus while we travel through China. Things are very different here than they are back at home. The people behave differently, its very crowded and you definitely get this feeling that social interaction here is more zero-sum, harsh.
An update about Beijing is coming soon, stay tuned.