My first day on the road also included some time on the tracks and in the air.
In case you missed my last post, I’ve begun a three week trek across central China. I may be in the same country, but now I’m without the daily work grind to keep things consistent; rather, I have daily doses of fresh sightings and off-the-cuff activities with an itinerary full of perspective-changing places to tour.
The whole attitude is a plateau of exploration and absorption.
So get ready to soak.
Here’s my three week itinerary, loosely: My first seven days are in the historic and mighty capital, Beijing:
From here, I’ll head to a small town in Henan province, just to the south of Beijing. Here, I have a date with a special, old Chinese woman to speak with about the old days–and in China that means a whole different society, government, and world.
After this trip down China memory lane, I’ll ride present tracks westward to the ancient capital of Xi’an.
And after that?
Well, I left a little wiggle room at the end. Right now I’m thinking further west may be the route.
Now, let me introduce you to my travel companion:
You’ll be seeing me do this at various points along my journey:
But I wasn’t for long.
Moments after that shot, I was out of the apartment and out of Zhuhai.
Via many different modes…
I taxied to the bus station:
Then on the bus I hopped:
This took me north to the train station.
Trains are a neat topic because, well, trains are cool; but also because they conjure up some controversy back in The States. Obviously, they’re expensive and so require the right conditions. Even then, they don’t pay for themselves via ticket fees, so public subsidization makes people wonder if they’re worth it. Then again, roads need subsidization, too.
Where do you draw the line?
Or do you tear a a new one?
Right now they’re cutting a major corridor between St. Paul and Minneapolis. The image of a fresh new train taking smiling faces to and fro has many seeing past the current chaos of detours and jackhammers. Federal dollars granted to the Twin Cities from like-minded Washingtonians helped see the project come to fruition.
Let’s hope it’s a true benefit to the community. And since it’s political and tied to ideology, let’s also hope that people can look back minus this veil to decipher the wisdom of the decision. In China, I don’t hear the clamor of debate regarding trains. Of course, could they change things if they wanted?–Do they want to? The Chinese are reliably supportive of government projects.
I don’t know the finances of the train I was on. I hope it was a good investment. All I know is that I paid a small amount for a good distance and the ride was cool, comfortable, and smooth. I’m looking forward to my next train ride on this trip–though it is an overnighter in a seat!
Here were some sights on the way up to Guangzhou:
Always a lot of people, too, as seen when we got off the train at the Guangzhou subway station:
Underground we went:
We were gophers (or moles, or worms) burrowing to the airport in this contraption:
Lastly, I went from underground to the high skies. The flight was ordinary, but my earphones didn’t work, thus I couldn’t listen to the movie which was an English film, “The King’s Speech”. I found it odd the earphones weren’t electronic; they worked like a stethoscope.
Oh well, guess I had to make conversation with the woman next to me:
It paid off, too.
I was in need of a ride into the city. The Beijing airport is a ways out. We got in past midnight, so the trains didn’t run. My only option was a spendy taxi. I asked my new friend if I could share one with her. She said something in broken English about that being okay, her husband coming, too.
Whatever, sounds good. I’m gonna save 100RMB!
We landed and got our bags. Indeed, we left the terminal and met her son and husband. She mentioned me to her husband like “the one on the phone I told you about.” If he ever looked at me, it was for the shortest second. I had the feeling he wasn’t happy to have me. I realized, then, that it wasn’t a taxi, but their own car we were taking. I wouldn’t want to take a stranger to his hostel at 12:30pm somewhere in the huge city of Beijing, either. But I was stuck in the middle of his reasonable annoyance and her Chinese hospitality.
And of course they put me in the front with him. I tried to make some small chat, but “I don’t understand” is what he responded. They needed to know where to go and couldn’t read the directions I had in lettered Chinese (known as pinyin). They needed the characters. I had a phone number (and a dead battery on my phone) so sheepishly I asked them to call my hostel. They did and got directions.
It was then several miles of trying to keep it light. Then at one point Dad threw on the hazard lights and abruptly pulled over on the urban freeway, onto an exit lane. “What the heck?” I thought. The car stopped, Mom opened the passenger’s side back door holding her toddler just outside as he peed–on the freeway.
A little later father had to call my hostel again and spoke loudly. The Chinese like to bellow anyway, but I think he was frustrated and lost. Oh boy. Were driving down alleys just wide enough for the side mirrors to clear (one time we had to pivot them inward to squeak through). But before I started making alternative sleeping plans, he stopped the car, opened his trunk, and pointed. We were there. Mother refused any money. Gosh, I hope they weren’t far from their place.
They left and it was just me and Beijing. And since, I’ve been having a great time and learning much.
The next day was Sunday. I walked into a church service and later witnessed some “worshipers” in a nearby park.
to new plateaus,