It’s been awhile since my last post because lately I’ve not only been busy but also tired. Since the last holiday 2 weeks ago, I don’t think I’ve practiced a single Chinese Character. I’m planning to change that very soon though, like today hopefully. But I digress. The last holiday, my country mate (Sheree) and I went to Tianjin for 1 day. Tianjin is the closest city to Beijing. It’s right below Beijing and takes 1/2 hour to get there by Bullet Train.
The journey started at 6:15 AM. We went to the Beijing South Railway Station which looks impressively like an airport. Inside the train was also designed to look like the inside of an aeroplane. The ride to Tianjin was nice but I was a little disappointed because the ride on the bullet train didn’t feel any different from the ride on the Beijing Subway. The scenery outside wasn’t “whizzing” by as I thought it would have.
Tianjin was one big adventure because neither Sheree nor I knew how to get to anywhere. All we knew were the names of some famous Tianjin attractions and a map in Mandarin of Tianjin that we bought at the railway station.
At the start of our adventure, we took bus #847 I think, trying to get to the Old Food Street. We rode the bus until I saw something that looked like a church (I saw online that there was a famous church in Tianjin). The "church" turned out to be the old West Tianjin Railway Station, which was right beside the new West Railway Station. The railway station also had a bus terminus, so we hopped on another bus which took us to the Old Food Street (we think), but it really seemed a small Muslim community with a big market in the middle. There were some pretty disturbing sights when we walked past the meat section. Let’s just say, these people have no qualms as to where their beef (because they don’t eat pork) comes from. I took pictures, but I don’t think anybody wants to see those.
The Tianjin Subway was the next mode of transportation. It only has 3 lines compared to Beijing’s 15 lines. The aim was to get to Tianjin’s English/Italian/French/German Streets. I’m not sure if we got there, but the architecture in that area was very European so we took a carriage ride around.
By the time the ride was finished, it was lunch time. So we hopped on another bus and rode till we saw a place that looked like a restaurant. Fortunately it was a restaurant. Afterwards we took another bus looking for Italian Town, a little area they built with lots of European restaurants and little gift shops.
On our way to the last attraction, Tianjin Eye (A big Ferris wheel where you can see all of Tianjin), we stopped to ask a security guard for directions. Curiously, while we were talking to the security using Mandarin, about 5 people who were walking by just stopped and started leaning in to listen. It was only after we said "Ok, thank you" that they started walking again. The security guard told us to take a "rickshaw" (We call them tuk-tuk’s), but it seemed to be riding around in circles for such a long time that Sheree and I thought we must have told the guy the wrong thing, but we did finally get to the wheel. The wait to get on the wheel for 1 ½ hours was torture, but the few was nice.
On our way to the station to go back home, we were running a bit late so we decided to take a taxi. About 3 taxi’s passed us before one slowed down, looked at us and then drove off. Luckily the next one actually stopped. At the station we were in a panic because we thought we had missed the last train and we started contemplating whether or not we should go to a hotel or just stay in a 24/7 McDonald’s. Fortunately we didn’t have to make that decision as we caught the 11:00 PM train which took us back to Beijing, to our dorm rooms that we now call home.