Just call me a local because my new regular work commute is to Beijing via the bullet train–a four hour journey speeding through the polluted countryside. We set off today for a week long adventure to Beijing and Nanjing. Thom and I are always amused at the security “lite” detail at the train station that consists of putting your stuff through the scanner while the security gal texts her friend and shops online and being wanded haphazardly as they yawn in boredom…it is quick and painless, at least for us. They seem bored to death. My husband who always seems to pack something he shouldn’t is lucky that they are so bored and not very attentive. He doesn’t mean to pack sharp objects but, hey, you never know when you might need something in an emergency. Of course, hours before our trip today there was an “incident” at another rail station in China that was concerning. Never worry–we will be as careful as we can and, after dodging traffic in Shanghai and Vietnam, we are very nimble and can get out of the way of trouble quickly. We have also learned to be prepared and pack first aid and meds just in case.
After racing through security, we walked through various American stores like Disney (featuring the blingiest Mickey stuff imaginable), Jeep, Polo, etc. that line the train station. We never see anyone buying anything but the snack shops are always busy with folks buying tasty treats like dried seaweed to take home to the relatives. Then, we head over to Costa Coffee (they have a Starbucks too, of course) and sometimes we score an egg tart at KFC but today Thom got a toastie-a yummy breakfast sandwich with a meat-like substance. He’s really not that picky and never seems to get sick like I do from the food so I passed. After Thom visited the men’s room aka the “smoking lounge”, we headed over to the gate, dodging the DNA that seems to come hacking out of most passersby. COVER. YOUR. MOUTH. It’s really not that hard! I wait to go to the ladies room on the train–the station has “squat” bathrooms which I avoid if at all possible.
At any time/any day the station is packed with people and they do NOT travel light. I thought I overpacked but, holy Hell, the crowd here is loaded down with those ubiquitous plastic expanding bags that haul LOTS of stuff and you learn to get out of their way fast as they drag their possessions through the tight aisles or you WILL be mowed down.
Playing the “laowai” card, we go to the VIP gate and talk our way through feigning ignorance of the real process of waiting with the masses streaming through the regular gates. We board the first class car and settle in for the four hour ride to Beijing. Strap on the air masks and off we go!