December 20, 2008
I shall skip one day and continue to the third day when we were leaving for Beijing by train, at around 7:30pm. Actually, the day before this one was basically just a nothing-day...except maybe the fact that Lala went to get a new haircut by the hair salon just across the street where Jane and I spent 2-3 hours just sitting there, taking some random pictures and pretty much just looking out for Lala's hair Okay, so why was it a nothing-day? Well, Joyce, Niki, and Alddon went to attend their economic workshop, only three of us left in the apartment and cant go anywhere new since Joyce, Niki, Alddon did not want to miss out on anything. Anyway, after Lala had her haircut + rebond, we went back to the apartment then got on the subway and headed to the Shanghai Railway Station to get train tickets then to East Nanjing Pedestrian Shopping Street again and spent the rest of the day there By the time we got home, it was almost 11:00pm, due to some transportation difficulties, that the MTR line 4 was closed and we had to take line 8 and back to line 2 to get to Nanpu Station (our stop) -_-
Okay, so back to the third day It was a normal day, sunny and a bit cold. We didn't do much in the morning, just packed up our stuff to get ready to leave for Beijing that night. So the plan was that Joyce, Niki, and Alddon were supposed to come back to the apartment by 5pm or so, but when I called them and asked were they were, they told me they're still in the conference room xD Then I panicked, I was like "What? Are you serious? the train leaves 7:30pm and it takes some time to get to the train station with our amount of luggage, and then we have to hover around the big station to find the right platform. Please come home as soon as possible." and they were whispering "We cant, it would be very disrespectful to the speaker if we leave in the middle of his lecture, but we'll get out as soon as possible." In the end, I told them to just get a cab and go to the train station directly, while Jane, Lala, and I take care of all the luggages and meet up at the train station. Lucky we got a van taxi to take us there, or we'd not have fit in one taxi haha The funny thing about this whole "event" was that we actually had 4 groups of people meeting up at the station at the same time, not to mention that we're almost late for the train (there was like 30 mins left for us to get to the platform). First group, its Valle and Eric, they got to the train station the earliest and waited at the entrance, so no problem finding them. Second group, Rain and his friend who helped him get to the right place; he saw me as soon as we arrived at the entrance, so no problem as well. Third and fourth group was my group, and Joyce's group, we also saw each other at the carpark area, where we hired porters to help with the luggage and help us find the platform. WHEW! That was close! hahaha (but the porter fee was damn expensive -_- we had no choice, or the train's gonna leave us lol) and I forgot to mention that all this time, my phone never stopped ringing, I was on the phone almost all of the time, talking with 3 groups of people waiting to meet up...xD It was chaos that turned out well in the end
After much running and hovering, we finally got to the train with 15 mins left to spare before it departs for Shanghai. Hmmm the train looks really nice It was actually the first time that I took a long haul train ride. Our trip to Beijing took around 11 hours. We had to sleep in the train overnight at the small cabins (but still clean and comfy). So we had our dinner also at the train, there was a small "cafeteria" that serves meals. The food was oily and tastes weird...but oh well, we'll wait till we get to Beijing to get some more decent food hehe That night in the cabin, we played a few rounds of card games, called the Heartattack It was so much fun! So Valle, having only played it for the first time, always lost, and Rain, who sat farthest to the table, also lost several rounds (imagine 8 of us squeezed in a small 4-person cabin while Eric stayed in his cabin comfortably and peacefully reading his book, as the rest of us almost wrestled ourselves to death) During this "violent" card game, some hands were brutally slapped, like that of Joyce's (thanks to Rain), and two of my precious cards was damaged (folded at the corner) I don't remember what time it was that we went to sleep...I think it was around 12:00 or so...after everyone got tired and the excitement gone down a bit
By 5:30am, my phone alarm rang, and I woke up to start preparing for the arrival of the train, that is an hour after. Yes, it took some time to get everyone in the cabin (4 per cabin) to wake up, especially Joyce and Lala...and well, my boots too, always hard to maneuver and get them on We woke up the others after we're done and then just sat there and waited for the train to arrive. Actually before that, we walked around a lot, and on our way, I saw some snow by the train cart connection area, informed Niki and he got really really excited haha he was like "SNOW! SNOW!!!!" and started scooping them up Despite the dirty snow, no words can describe his excitement xD We looked out the window and there was also snow, apparently there had been snowfall the night before we arrived in Beijing. So the train arrived promptly at around 6:40am, and we all felt the piercing cold, even while we're still inside the train. Uh oh....I wonder how cold it's gonna be outside? The moment I stepped out the train, the wind was so strong I couldn't even stand straight! It's not just the wind, the COLD, the real COLD was terrible....I was like "Oh man, I dont know how I can stand 3 days of this cold in Beijing." Oh well, we followed the crowd and got out the station (after some luggage delays, once again) and the weather was even worse! It was still dark outside, and the train station looked deserted...and I can't see where the cabs are lined up O_o Joyce and I walked around to look for the taxi stand, while the others huddled close and waited...we couldnt find any! Gladly, a guy approached us and asked if we wanted to rent a van, since there are 9 of us with so many suitcases...so Joyce and I went to check out his van and asked the others to follow. We got in the van after a while and it felt like heaven inside Not that it looks like a limousine or something, but its a lot less cold inside haha Then everyone was amazed when they saw that the driver is a woman She told me that it wasnt that cold the day before, like maybe around 5C...so we're just really unfortunate xD After 10-15 mins ride, we finally got to the hotel - Beijing Taiwan Hotel (I translated it myself ). It was the first time I'd been to this hotel, my dad booked the rooms for us. For the price it offered, the place was actually nice The rooms were clean and okay, with the exception of Valle's and Eric's room. Their's was a lot bigger than ours haha The location was good, it only takes us about 5 mins of walk to get to the WangFuJing pedestrian shopping street and commercial district, its also not very far from The Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.
We moved in our warm and cozy rooms and some of us just fell asleep... We were all very tired, I suppose..hehe We havent made plans for the day, but we knew we had to start touring, so we dont waste the day. The bellboy told us that it would be nice to go to the Great Wall, before the snow melts away. I inquired at the reservation desk and the lady told me that we might have to rent a van since there are 9 of us, it would be a lot more convenient. The van however was expensive, costs 1000RMB per day. We had a voting whether to go that day, or the next day, and majority decided that we go the next day, so we opted to The Forbidden City instead The fun has just yet to begin hahaha Stay tuned for my next post