Wednesday, January 16, 2008

train travels

Due to the extensive haggling, our shopping expedition took more time than anticiapted and we found ourselves rushing to the train station. Where were we going? Why, we were going to Shanghai. We had booked a 3-day, 2 night tour for ourselves and if we wanted to keep with it we had to catch our 12 hour overnight train.

But there are few things more confusing than a Chinese train station, especially when you don't read a lick of Chinese. People don't like to be asked questions when they are in train stations, they are running to catch their train. Like we should've been..except we had no idea where to go.

I take it back, I had no idea where to go (and neither did Ki-Ki) but Alvina and Jen with their far superior language skills slowly figured it out, while Ki-Ki and I followed like sheep. And after sweating and straining with our luggage through rush hour and throngs of people to the correct gate, I realized I read the tickets wrong and we were an hour early. You know your friends are true friends when they don't get annoyed by things like that.

But maybe it was good fate, because somehow we were unable to get tickets that allowed all four of us to be in the same sleeper car and we needed some time to sort things out. We didn't realize what an issue not sharing the same car would be until we saw how close the quarters were in these sleepers...and that we were paired with strange Chinese men. We quickly put on our most pathetic, pouty faces, and Jen cajoled in Chinese until they were willing to make the switch.

And thank goodness, for riding sleeper car was quite fun. Not much of a view as we were traveling by night, but nothing beats a getting up at midnight on a train to eat brought-from-home ramen noodles and peanut butter on bread. And Ki-Ki woke us all up at 3 in the morning when she got up to eat Nerd candy.

But when the sun began to rise (or the smog lightened, little hard to tell), we knew we were close to our destination. Before long we were being pushed off the train into Shanghai station. Luckily, Kevin, our tour guide, was there waiting for us and saved us from another painful navigation through us a train station; and we soon found ourselves on the streets of Shanghai.

Hello, Shanghai!


Libby Koponen said...

Oh, that sounds so fun! (I love train rides, especially on sleeper trains.) That mural is amazing, who are the creatures? And I love all the pictures, especially the one of you Grace looking out the window. THank you for posting so much, please do it every day!

Elaine Magliaro said...


It all sounds so exciting. I'm so envious. I remember well my train ride from Nanjing to Shanghai. It wasn't an overnighter--but it was still one of the highlights of my trip.

JennyW said...

I am just catching up on your adventures and I too am envious - it's not the destination but the journey. Thank you for bringing us along too!