Dan Dot Blog

Based on a true story

Good Morning Shanghai

Just woke up, and it seems are train is going really slowly now. This leads me to infer that we must be pretty close to Shanghai by now. I slept pretty well, about as well as I could hope to sleep on the top bunk of a short bed on a train. I think I’m going to need some additional napping when I arrive at Connie’s in order to feel rested, but that sounds like it’s going to happen anyway.

Honestly, this train ride felt much shorter than my flight. To be fair, the flight to Beijing was like 2 hours longer, but the train ride felt like half the trip. Maybe the advantage is in leaving when you’re about to naturally sleep anyway.

Right now I have a queue of like 5 new blog posts sitting on my iPhone that I want to get launched, so hopefully Connie’s place will have wifi.

April 12, 2010 Posted by | Personal | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Farewell Beijing

I’m on the train now headed south to Nanjing and then on to Shanghai (and Connie, woo!). This will be an exciting trip in travel abroad.

I bought a deluxo-seat on an ultra-modern train. These trains would be the envy of Eurorail and put Amtrak to utter shame. I guess I actually got a bed rather than a seat. The D class trains that run between Beijing and Shanghai are the pride of the fleet and boast truly flat bed experiences for those willing to shell out upwards of 600 RMB (~ $90). For those on a budget there seem to be decent regular seats more in the 300 RMB range.

It was a pretty exciting and hurried trip to the train station. Zhi hui, my new buddy from the coffee shop at Jingshan park, recommeded that I take a bus or taxi to the nearest subway station. Once I got my bearings, I opted to walk to Tiananmen West instead, failing to take into account how far North-South the Forbidden City runs.

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Tea Ceremony

Just finished having a tea ceremony in Jingshan park. I was “hooked” off the street by promises of coffee and tea and was quickly talked into a tea ceremony. It seemed reasonably priced and I was bored so I figured it was worth a shot. As we went through the ceremony there were definitely many points where the hostess was trying to upsell various products and teas. I was playing along with her script until she showed me a cup with Chinese writing on it and asked if I knew what it meant. I could read the beginning that said China but didn’t know the second two. She pronounced them for me and I recognized xiang mao as panda bear (or bear cat) since Jie had taught me yesterday after I showed her my awesome panda hat.

At that point we started to go a little off script, and things got a lot more interesting.

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Jingshan Park

I’m writing now from the Pavillion at the top of Jingshan Park. I found my way to Tiananmen Square, or at least the South gate of the Forbidden City, then entered the outer walls before opting not to buy a ticket and skirting around the water to the East.

I was wandering around by myself on some side street when a guy outside a store started talking to me. He was real friendly and was giving travel recommendations, then came the catch as I was walked into his store to look at his art.

I got a neat lesson in Chinese art and caligraphy and learned some alternative Chinese forms of “Daniel.” Ultimately I did buy this big painting of a tiger at I’m sure not a good price, but I really liked it and was pretty happpy with it. Plus, it was on his advice that I came up here, to the top of Jingshan park. It’s this park just north of the Forbidden City. I guess it’s more of a hillside garden. It’s pretty breathtaking, and the panoramic views of Beijing and the Forbidden City are about as cool as advertised, so I guess all in all it wasn’t such a raw deal.

Independence so far is going ok, but it’s a little lonely, especially when I can’t even eavesdrop on other conversations. I need more confidence before I try eating alone; I never know what to order and when I try, everything that looked good tastes awful and vice versa. I think I’ll be meeting friends soon, so maybe I’ll just hold out in the hopes that my lost dinner in Beijing will be a good one with friends.

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Beijing Subway

Last day in Beijing. I’m on the subway now headed from my hotel at PKU down towards Tiennamen Square. I’ve been spelling it like five different ways so I doubt that’s correct. Just witnessed some nice civility. An elderly couple got on the train and there was only room to stand. They were ready to stand and weren’t looking aroud expectantly. Two people got up, one near me an the other a beautiful girl across the car, and actually tapped the old folks so that they’d see a seat had been opened for them. I also got up with them and some dude stole my seat, but whatever.

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April 12, 2010 Posted by | Personal | , , , | Leave a comment