We're back! I'm going to do a series of smaller posts over the next couple of days in order to break up all the awesome-ness that was our vacation. So first, let me begin with the traveling part of our trip.
Beijing Train Station, where we arrived from Qinhuangdao
Long line for taxis; Yikes!
On Monday morning, we took a 7:30am train from Qinhuangdao to Beijing. It was faster and safer than taking the bus, but also more packed. They must have taken advice from the French because they sold more tickets than seats, which left lots of people standing in the aisles for the 3 hour journey. Luckily, being foreigners afforded us some courtesy and we were able to squeeze into some seats. When we arrived in Beijing, it was a beautiful, crisp, cool autumn day, and we took advantage of it by walking around for five hours before our connecting train to Guilin left. We wandered our usual haunt, Wanfujing Shopping street, hitting up the foreign bookstore where I bought Kenneth Follett's "A World Without End." I chose this book for the sheer volume of it, which would keep me occupied for the two 24-hour trains we had to take.
Wanfujing Shopping Street
We also treated ourselves to Subway and Starbucks, which were worth the expensive price tag that comes with importing western products to China.
Creme brulee frappecino. Yum!
After a couple of blissful hours in faux-America, we headed for the train station to catch our overnight train which would take us the 2,300km south to Guilin.
Beijing West Train Station, our departure point
We had reserved two middle bunks on a the hard-sleeper, but of course those bunks were actually in two different carriages, so we switched with someone to have a middle and top bunk. Having a permanent bed in the car meant we pretty much napped the entire 24 hour trip, or read and listened to music.
It was really comfortable, except for the billion other (noisy and messy) people on the train. Thankfully, the lights went out at 10pm, and everyone pretty much quieted down until 7am the next morning, when the smell of instant noodles woke us up. We had brought our own food and drinks and plenty of snacks, so it was actually pretty enjoyable for us to just lounge in bed and read until we arrived in Guilin around 3:30pm the next day.