Night train to Beijing
Well, I'm still a week behind on blogging, but at least that's the end of the Shanghai stuff.
On Friday night, me and Sushu went to the train station and got on a night train to Beijing. It takes about 10 hours, but they are all sleepytime hours, and the train has bunkbeds instead of seats, so we slept through most of it. Pretty neat!
Not so neat was that the train company sold us the wrong tickets, putting me and Sushu in two separate compartments instead of the same compartment like we asked for. But we met a really nice guy traveling by himself who agreed to trade with one of us so that we could be together.
So we got in to Beijing about 7:30 am Saturday, and then began the third and last leg of our trip...
24 hours on a train
I bet there's rich folks eatin
on a fancy dinin car
they're probly drinkin coffe
and smokin fat cigars
well I knew I had it comin
I know I cain't be free
but that train keeps a rollin
and that's what tortures me
— Johnny Cash
Me and Sushu took the Amtrak from San Jose to Seattle to visit Alexis and Isaac. We just got to Alexis's house and now we're catching up on internet stuff. The train left San Jose about 8:30 last night, got to Portland at 3:30 this afternoon, and to Seattle just before 8. So we were on the train for almost 24 hours.
We had a very tiny sleeper car, and we got meals on the dining car. It was all very old-fashioned and classy. In the dining car they sat us across a table from other random couples.
I had an interesting conversation with one old dude who was actually in the U.S. army occupying Japan in 1946-48. He wasn't involved in any fighting, only reconstruction work. Dude. Talking to a part of history right there. Him and his wife also had cool stories about participating in democracy in Vermont, where most things are run at the town level, and most things are decided by votes at town hall meetings. The governor of the state was moderator for the meetings of his town of 8,000, and called on people by first name. Now that's democracy! He said the town voted to impeach Bush and the governor at the time, being a Republican, wasn't too happy about that but let the vote go through (not that it means anything, as only congress can impeach presidents...)
The porter in our car was a chatty and very odd man who kept asking us about what we were drawing, talking about selling Amtrak souvenirs on eBay, and randomly saying "Ooga booga!". Also telling us about his other job, which is legally growing medical marijuana for sale to the California government.
There was some very pretty snow-covered Cascadian scenery visible from out the windows of the train; I'd post a picture but I don't have my camera dongle with me.
When we finally got off the train tonight, it felt strange standing on solid, non-moving ground. Kind of like being on dry land after being at sea long enough to get your sea legs; I still felt like the ground was swaying.