Airplanes, overnight trains, arrival in Ha’erbin

1 02 2010

I’m going to try and make this brief, since the internet on the computer here at the hostel in Harbin seems sporadic at best. In addition, many wayward traveling Chinese are looking at me endlessly, since I’m on the one computer they have here.
So to continue Missy’s story, I’ll pick up at the Shanghai airport. If I am just reporting information you’ve already read, I apologize as I’m unable to read her most recent post. Anyway, we ended up buying a plane ticket to Beijing for later in the day after accidentally going to the wrong airport. (Shanghai has two on each side of the city, which as you probably know, is enormous.) The flight was for 2 pm, instead of noon, so at least we weren’t concerned about missing this one like we had the previous flight. The was fine, though takeoff was a bit steeper than I’ve become accustomed to in the U.S. That could just be the pilot’s fault, though. We got into the Beijing airport, which is really big, and after trying in vain to call and book a train ticket to Harbin from the airport, we took the airport train into town and transferred onto the metro, finally getting off at the Beijing Zhan stop (Zhan is Chinese for ‘station). The Beijing train station – as I think there are two in the city – is quite pretty, actually. I don’t know much about
its history, but I believe I read somewhere that it was a couple hundred years old. At any rate, it’s a pretty interesting looking building. PIctures soon, I promise. We went up to the booking window – they have an English one – and found out that though we were able to book an overnight train ride to Ha’erbin for the same day (or at midnight, actually), we would be unable to buy sleeper tickets to Xi’an for February 6 (when we were planning on traveling with our friends flying in from the States.) The tickets for Xi’an wouldn’t be available until Feb. 2, for some reason, and, according to the clerk who was helping us, probably wouldn’t be still for sale on Feb. 3, when we got into Beijing. Oh well. So we ended up, after a bit of Internet research at a nearby hostel as well as some conversations with booking people, buying plane tickets for Xi’an from an airline service in the area. It ended up being more expensive than we had planne, but at least we know we’ll be able to get there. We also ate pretty decent food at a vege place right by the train station. Then we hung out outside the train station playing I spy until our train left. One more thing on the train: No more sleeper tickets were available, so we got hard seat tickets, or as I like to call them after our previous trip from Luoyang, “The Bane of Jeremiah’s Existence.” But amazingly these seats were clean, comfortable, and the train was very empty. Also, no smoking! Though they kept the lights on, we were able to get fitful sleep until we reached Ha’erbin (the Chinese Pinyin spelling of Harbin, incidentally) at 8 in the morning.
And how is Ha’erbin? Freezing. Legitimately cold. But a nice, pretty, cool city. More later, as this computer is starting to freak out…




One response

3 02 2010

Thanks guys, I do read your blog—just don’t always note it. Guess I should so you won’t feel that nobody cares 😦

It sounds as though you are having a blast on the vacation—

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