Day Eight: 你好上海! (Hello Shanghai!)

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Today, we finally left Beijing at around 10am to get to the train station a couple miles away from our hotel.  Although I had some great experiences in Beijing, I was ready to move on with the journey and get to see Shanghai for this whole week.  I was also very excited to see what traveling by bullet train is like.  Essentially, a bullet train, as you can certainly tell by its name, is a really, really, fast train that exceeds speeds of 300 kilometers (about 186 miles) per hour.  According to my maps app on my iPhone, a typical drive from Beijing to Shanghai is roughly 14 and a half hours, but with the bullet train, it only took 6 hours.

When we got inside the bullet train, I was immediately relieved to see that there was more than enough leg room in between seats for the long ride.  Standing at 6’2″ tall, I do not usually get the opportunity to have a whole lot of space (I felt very cramped on the plane ride to China; I had the dead center seat in the middle row), so it was nice to not have to worry about that this time around.  As we sped by mainland China, it was very cool to see some of the more rural areas that we don’t get to see while we are traveling to cultural sites or companies.  The rural parts of China are just as much a part of the country as the large cities, so I felt it was essential to at least get a quick glimpse of some of these areas.  In all honesty, the six hours on the train went by rather quickly.  I passed the time by listening to music, reading, looking out the window, and eating some snacks I got at the convenience store before boarding the train.

At around 6pm, we finally got off the train and had gotten to our destination.  We were greeted by another program coordinator from the Asia Institute named Young.  She took us to our mini van and we all introduced ourselves to her, since she would be taking over for Liliana for the rest of the trip once she had to go back to take exams at her school.  After about half an hour, we arrived at the hotel.  I entered my single room and besides a king bed waiting for me, the first thing I saw was the outside view of the city.  I was mesmerized by all of the massive buildings right outside my window, and I knew already that I was gonna really enjoy being in Shanghai.

After unloading our stuff, we walked to a nearby noodle bar for dinner.  Liliana ordered our dishes for us since the woman at the counter wasn’t all that great with English.  I got noodles with spinach, clam, and razor clam, and it was really good.  Even though I had been eating snacks pretty much the whole train ride, I needed a good meal to settle my appetite, and this was the perfect amount of food to fill me up.

It was a rather long day of traveling, and I was very glad to be able to sleep in a room by myself with a really comfortable bed.  I have very high hopes for the rest of this trip, and I can’t wait to continue on this journey.

-Colin

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This certainly isn’t Pittsburgh anymore!

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