Maria Holland

Leavin’ on a Jet Train

In Uncategorized on January 20, 2010 at 9:22 pm

We saw a lot of China today.  The day began with an hour-long taxi ride from our hotel in the middle of Guangzhou to the new train station way out in the middle of nowhere.  It was my parents’ first prolonged drive through a Chinese city, and we were all entertained by what we saw out the windows.  The average Chinese street in any town consists of little store after little store after little store, either selling every possible incarnation of one product, or the most random assortment of crap you’ve ever seen.  For instance, one particularly memorable street we drove by had two (TWO) stores selling all kinds of safes, and one selling towel racks of every shape and size.

Another interesting sight is the use of motorbikes in China.  I was going to make a list of things that we’ve seen carried on motorbikes, but like the list of things softer than my bed, it is the universal set.  A dozen Culligan-style water bottles, a few tanks of propane, sheetrock, a TV . . . anything goes.  Anything an American can do with an SUV, a Chinese family does with a motorbike.  I think there are more bikes carrying 2+ people in China than there are cars carrying 2+ people in America. 

The highlight of the day was the train ride – on the world’s FASTEST train, to be specific.  The CRH Guangzhou-Wuhan high speed railway just opened on the 26th of December, and it is still shiny and clean (even the bathroom) when we boarded. 

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The boarding process was easy, the acceleration was smooth, and before we knew it we were shooting north along the Chinese countryside at 352 km/hr (220 mph)! 

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At this speed, you can miss whole Chinese villages if you blink.  I tried to stay awake, but every time I dozed off for a few minutes, I probably missed whole provinces.  We saw a lot though – mountains, rivers, little villages, people tending fields, kids playing soccer, and stereotypical rice paddies with requisite water buffalo.  The scenery out the window was a little bit blurry (especially when photographed) so the main impression we were left with was gray. 

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It might have been part fog, but it must have been at least part haze.  Either way, it was so pervasive that I feel like I’ve forgotten what a blue sky looks like. 

The train station where we got off in Wuhan was also newly built, and pretty much staggering in scope.

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I think it’s also a little ways from Wuhan city proper, because we rode a bus for over an hour before getting to the main train station.  By this time it was around 4:00 and we basically hadn’t eaten all day, so we grabbed some fried bread from a street vendor.  It was my parents’ first time eating real street food in China, and it was appreciated all around.

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We found a hotel nearby – 速8, or Super 8.  It’s way nicer than any Super 8 in America though; they even have the sand in their ashtrays stamped into the shape of their logo.  The room is nice and roomy, probably because we’re now officially card-carrying Super 8 Motel VIPs.  Yes, that’s right, we now have ‘people’ in China, and they’re taking good care of us. 

After trying unsuccessfully [again] to buy train tickets for the next leg of the trip, we went to dinner.  Some Wuhan specialty vegetable, beef and green peppers, and an entire chicken.  The chicken was fabulously delicious but Mom was a little bit annoyed when she accidentally bit into the head . . . haha.

The other main reason I wanted to come to Wuhan (besides it being the final destination of this train) was because Wuhan University is said to be China’s second most beautiful campus.  As a student at China’s MOST beautiful university, I was hoping to walk around and make pointed comments like, “Man, this campus is really beautiful.  Of course, it doesn’t have anything on XiaDa, but I can see why people would call it the second-most beautiful campus.”  Alas, that was not to be as the university turned out to be an hour from our hotel by taxi.  My parents say it was punishment for my prideful thoughts :(

Instead, we finished the day by strolling around a Chinese supermarket.  We bought snacks for tomorrow – the distinctly non-Chinese Alpenliebe candies, Aleid’s magically delicious dried Vietnam jackfruit chips, Danish butter cookies – and I introduced my father to the wonders of Mengniu yogurt drinks. 

I would like to end with an addition to my list of ways in which my parents resemble small children on this trip:

  • They need help going to the bathroom
  • They’re always asking how long until we get to our destination
  • I give them spending money
  • I got to pick names for them
  • They learn new words every day
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  1. love the pic of the 2 trains head to head in the station! are you sure Matt isn’t with you??!!
    and today’s blog was cute! you’re a funny girl Maria!

  2. Can’t imagine travelling that fast on the ground….are you sure it wasn’t a “transporter?” The train station in Wuhan sure looks like something out of Star Wars!!
    Aunt Claire

  3. BTW LOVE your daily blog titles! Always very clever!!

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