Monday, April 18, 2011: All Aboard and Outta Shanghai
A Night in the Fast Lane
Monday night, right after a whole day of num-nums, we had to catch the 9:30 pm train to Beijing. Yes! I was finally going to Beijing! Every Chinese person has to visit Beijing. It’s like having an American not going to Manhattan, New York…
To get from Shanghai to Beijing, we took the very fast and revolutionary ‘bullet trains’ called 動車 Dong che (EMU trains). These D Trains are also termed CRH (China Railway Highspeed), NOT corticotropin-releasing hormone… Medical school seriously follows you everywhere. In Chinese, these super fast trains are named 和 諧 號 He Xie Hao, which roughly translates to “Harmony.” Traveling as quickly as 250 km/hr, the Dong che transports between main cities in China, including Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Nanjing, Hangzhou, etc…
We boarded the nighttime Dong che for the long distance travel from Shanghai-Hong Qiao to Beijing. The total travel time was 10 hours, so most of the ride entailed resting and snoozing. My mother told me the trip from Shanghai to Beijing via the railway used to take days. Now that has been cut to a mere 10 hours. Coming June, an even faster, magnetic train called Gao tie, running as fast as 350 km/hr, will touch down and minimize the travel time even further between Shanghai and Beijing to 4 hours or so. Unbelievable!
The first-class cabins were equipped with beds, blankets, pillows, TV, and a nice view. It had a remote, but striking likeness to the Hogwarts Express, the cabin room and the hallway. It was nighttime, but Kelly and I were not tired. I guess we were still super hyped to be on vacation in China after such a long time. Instead, we sat around in the hallway and chatted, while looking out at the black night. Our parents were just knocked-out for the night. We let them sleep a little before barging in so we could climb the bunk beds.
We woke up early the next morning. I sat with Kelly as we sang C-pop and K-pop songs, while viewing the passing scenery. We may have woken up a few cabins behind us and entertained an old man next to us. We saw the countryside, some small cities, farm fields, rugged village homes and small rivers and lakes. This is the life we call 農村 Nong Cun, or the rural and rustic backcountries of China, hidden behind the glittering, industrialized cities. The sunrise was a spectacular sight, speaking I am never awake at sunrise.