Day 9 – Tuesday 18th June – Xi’an to Beijing
The morning starts with the Navigator rising at 5am, not sure if I’ll get used to these early starts, maybe if I subject myself to it for another month or so, then again maybe not, why give up one of life’s little pleasures, a little lazy lie in. Oh the heat is gone from my feet, good news.
Yesterday’s big day has its consequences, the headache is karma for crappy comments about the Navigator, I tell myself “ don’t do it!” But it’s so much fun and the target does leave the door open for commentary.
We have a very nice breakfast at 6am, it goes with the rest of the hotel, it’s very nice. We leave spot on 7am for the train station.
The Xi’an train station is huge, and as usual full of people, we’re Train G26 just 2 stops over 1500 km before Beijing, and boarding is via gate B1. As usual I talk on time, coach 10 seats 12 D & C.
We’re all in the same carriage, so the usual scramble for baggage space, our small flexible Kathmandu 70 litre bags are so good, they easily swing up to the overhead rack.
The train speed varies between 290 and 350 kph, mostly at about 306 kph, and there is hardly any movement in the carriage. At 250 kph it feels like you could walk beside it. We talk to a Chinese Railway Police officer in the dining car, his English is good, mainly learned from watching English language movies. A coffee I get is average but the caffeine hit is still helpful. He tells us are the 1000 on the train and 1 policeman (him) and 6 girls looking after the food and other stuff.
Beijing East Train Station is the end of the line for the Bullet Train ride, right on time again. We find our leader “Michael” – real name Huang, and immediately notice that there is an amping up of security type people in uniforms around the station, most look like they are 18-19 years old , but no guns. We head out of the air conditioning to the Beijing heat, 34 degrees with the Asian haze and humidity.
Our hotel is pretty good, the Chang An Grand Hotel, but not as good as Xi’an. This afternoon is free time so after a little walk, I find a market for the women with stones, jewellery, I think more a wholesale market but huge, needless to say I don’t spend a yuan in a place like this, that’s up to the Navigator – world class shopper that she is. She makes decision that she might check it out tonight, but dinner is a Chinese restaurant near the hotel that has Peking Duck as its specialty, food or shopping? I know which one will win.
A full report on the Peking Duck and local beer tomorrow. Tomorrow we do Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden Palace and a general look around Beijing
Arrividerci from Peking/ Beijing