Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday, 7/4/10 10:39 p.m. Hard sleeper, bottom bunk, Cabin 11 of Car 12, overnight train from Jinan to Shanghai

When we woke up this morning in Susie's apartment, we thought we'd be going to bed there again tonight but after our near miss with the standing room only train from Pingyao to Jinan, we were a bit gun shy about purchasing train tickets so we went out to a local business hotel to try.  After first telling us no tickets to Shanghai were available, the "travel agent" called and was able to procure us three tickets for tonight's train.  Since our hotel reservations were already made for tomorrow and Tuesday, we jumped at them.  And so we are traveling once again.

Before we went in search of train tickets, we set out in search of breakfast.  Our first choice, the place with the good rolls, was closed but afforded us a trip through the market.  Instead, we got a watermelon, fried bread and onion pancakes, all of which were delicious.

We got in some internet time and laundry while we were waiting for the train tickets.  We also squeezed in a very successful trip to the KT Mart where I got a memory card (the 8 gb card I brought from home not being formatted for my camera) and a gift for Steve and Susie and Suzannah got parasols.  We also got to check out the grocery store which I love to do when traveling in foreign countries.

This afternoon we went to Batou Springs, a beautiful park adjacent to the town center with streams and temples.  An ATM stop at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and a cab ride back to Susie's, we then showered and packed to leave.  I had a scare with traveler's diarrhea but am thinking it was just the onions not agreeing with me.  (fingers crossed.)

We then headed to dinner with Grace, one of Susie's students.  She got a chance to practice her English and we got assistance in ordering some unbelievably delicious carmelized eggplant, cucumber dumplings and tomato dumplings.

After an adventurous cab ride (really 2 cab rides because we bailed on the first one) to the train station and getting kicked out of the soft seat waiting room, we are now comfortably (more or less) ensconced on the train until 6 am tomorrow.

Cabs in China are quite the crap shoot.  Some are nice, clean, air-conditioned, professional.  Some are grimy, grubby, hot scams.  When one stops for you, you never really know what you're going to get.  But at least we've only had one so far refuse to take us unlike last time in China when we had six in one day in Beijing refuse us.

By far the most exciting moment of the day was when I decided to check the price of an upscale hotel in Beijing and ended up booking us a room at the 5 star Raffles Hotel.  I'm very excited to spen our last night in Beijing in style.
Our thought now is to stay in Shanghai through Wednesday night and take the overnight train to Beijing on Thursday night.  We'll see if we can get an extra night at the Sheraton and if we can get train tickets for Thursday.  Nothing's ever certain in China . . .

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