Well. Here are some more pictures from our trip to Beijing--of the actual traveling part--which I stole from a friend's facebook page. So, in light of piracy, I have bootlegged some pictures. But, I will also give credit--these are Hannah's pictures--and are of the journey from Shenyang to the Sino Swiss hotel. Thus, a special thanks definitely needs to go out to the lovely photographer, Hannah!
This is outside of the Shenyang train station. There are literally thousands of people standing around here, milling about, waiting for arrivals, waiting for their trains, trying to catch taxis or buses. It's an insane place to be, if you are not one for crowds. But it gets worse. You must go through security. It frustrates a bit, honestly. The lines for security check-in are less like lines and more like herds of cattle in a slaughter yard. You push and shove your way towards the metal detectors. Fight to have your bags placed on the conveyor belt, and walk through the detector as fast as you can before you are cut in line by thirty Asians. I might sound a little bitter right now--and I probably am--I am not on speaking terms with this process. It doesn't like me, and I don't like it. Whew! Ok, once you're through the security check-in, you must find your gate, fight to have your ticket punched by the door-guard person, and then fight to retain your place in line until the gates are opened. Then in its through the gates that you shove and push, before you can even think about finding your train car. After you find your train car, you must fight your way inside, down the aisles, and to your seat. Usually, you have to fight to have someone move out of your seat, and then find a place for your luggage in the overhead compartments. It's quite an exhausting process and could be made much easier if only a few variables were shifted around.
There's a McDonalds here--you can order food of course, but the price is standing in long, vicious crowd/lines whose idea of personal space does not include the "bubble".
The boarding area to get on the "Fast Train". Maybe it's just me, but the train is not that fast. After riding it a few times, I can see why it is faster than the slow train, but it's not a bullet by any means. It's like the metra, but with nicer seating.
...And magical doors.
The backs of our heads.
Fellow teachers! Liz, Amber, and Irina.
Adam and I.
The train yard.
Lots of country side in the space between Shenyang and Beijing.
We saw field upon field, and many farmers working along the way. They seem to do most of their labor on their own without heavy machinery.
This is the slow train.
You can also pay for standing space on the fast train--this means no seat--four hours of standing up on the train for the trip between Beijing and Shenyang. This is probably one of the reasons why so many street vendors sell tiny collapsible stools that people can use when they get tired of standing up in the aisles. No body seems to be standing up in this picture--but on the way back from Beijing, there were at least 10 people standing up, perched on stools, or sitting on newspaper in our train car.
The Beijing train station that we arrived at. However crazy the Shenyang train station is, the experience of getting off a train in Beijing makes our city look quaint. There are many more people in Beijing, and I am not sure how the feeble denizens can make it through the masses without harm. I have a bruise on my arm still from getting whacked really hard by a stocky kid. I'm not sure why he took it upon himself to punch my poor arm.
First we used the subway and it was very crowded. Then we hitched a ride on the airport shuttle--which is cleaner, less crowded and air-conditioned. We were heading towards the airport because the hotel where the conference was being held was located near the airport. Also, there is a Burger King in the airport! Guess where we ate lunch...
Inside the Beijing airport. It's a beautiful airport--the ceiling is really awesome. Next time I am there, I will take a picture for my dad and brother. I think that they will appreciate the design of the roof.
From the airport we caught taxis and found ourselves at the Sino Swiss hotel. Adam and I had to wait a few hours for our room to be cleaned. It definitely paid off in the end, since we were assigned such an awesome suite!
Well. There's a small piece of what it's like to travel in China. Sorry if I sound a little bitter about the traveling in crowds part--I'm still adjusting to public transportation here!