So, after the harrowing aforementioned adventure of train stations and the fail of missing a train (by one minute!), the intrepid Emily and I returned to campus, slightly defeated, but with new train tickets and a new destination in mind.
In a continually surprising turn of events, we are Nanjing at the moment, and plan to remain here until Sunday.
A blow by blow account? Okay.
Day one, the train station. We arrive in the Beijing train station far ahead of schedule, having learned our lesson the day before. As it was a last minute booking, we have soft sleeper tickets. Basically first class sleeper bunks.
We get on our train and discover that we are in a four bed compartment with two ladies and a toddler. Somewhere between two and four. Out of split pants and talking, but still tiny. During the next fourteen hours, we befriend our compartment compatriots. Especially the young one. He enjoys playing with us. After his mother falls asleep in a bit of a nap, the young one turns to violence, shouting, kicking, punching, and spitting. All playful, but still, we cannot get him to stop. We retreat to the top bunk and ignore the terror below. After a somewhat sleepless night, we arrive in Nanjing at seven in the morning.
Day 2: Surprise! We get off the train at Nanjing main station instead of Nanjing west that was printed on our tickets. Oh well. Actually, this is better. The main train station is on the subway line. We consult our tiny and slightly inadequate map and discover the subway station closest to the hostels. We board the subway and discover they use subway tokens here in Nanjing. How quaint! We take the subway, reach our district, and then proceed to spend about… two hours trying to find our hostel. With our large backpacks on. Sigh. A long morning. The afternoon is a bit of a blur. I shall consult my photos to remember what we did. Ah okay. We walked out to a little park and watched people fly kites, sat on some green, green grass, read a little and generally chilled out. Then, we went to the Ming Palace Ruins, which were apparently just across the road (these were what we were looking for when we ended up in the park in the first place). We bought some strawberries on the street and retired to our hostel very very early.
After a dinner of strawberries, crackers, peanut butter and the like, we read our books and went to bed rather early due to the lack of sleep on the train the night before.
Coming soon: Nanjing, day three: City walls, an afternoon with an old friend, and further crackers for dinner. Nanjing day four: purple mountains, getting super lost, crackers for lunch and whatever ends up happening after 5:30 (now).
Coming later: More Nanjing, a trip to Suzhou, and our triumphant return to Beijing.
Also, more pictures on this post to come later!