Published: September 28th 2011September 28th 2011
So far we've survived our travels without any major snafus. Not got off at the wrong stop. Not been separated getting on and off. Not been hopelessly lost or even anything remotely like that. It's been good. Not to say that we haven't been anxious. We have.
Day one at the Beijing Airport. Giant place with tons of people and not a lot of English spoken. Karen, Kathy and I struggle to keep up with Kit. He leads us to the correct platform. Up whooshes the train. We rush in. Of course, the subway car is already full and our entrance makes it even more full. We are really crammed in. But, we're here. We're in China and we're on our way.
We have quite a ways to go before coming to the stop for our hotel. After a few stops I'm able to relax a bit. Able to take notice of my fellow travelers. And what I notice is how young everyone in China is. I swear to God that, except for us, all the riders are somewhere in their early twenties. Are they students, office workers, what? Definitely hip, very hip. Being who I am, I, of course, notice the women. Pants are tight. Shoes have high and narrow heels. Sneakers are yellow, red, lime green or whatever. Very chic hair styles. Everyone is thin.
Then it strikes me how quiet the subway is. The four of us are making more noise than the rest of the passengers combined. Why is that? Then I discover the answer. The answer is not that they are not ugly Americans. The answer is that they are of the modern generation. Of the six people in the seat opposite me five are using some kind of electronic device - they are texting, listening to an mp3 player, talking on the phone - things like that. Of the five people across from them four people are likewise engaged.
Other impressions from that first subway ride include that everyone is well behaved. Here I am on a crowded subway in Beijing, China and I feel totally safe - safer than I felt in Washington, D.C., safer than I felt in Barcelona, undoubtably safer than I would feel in New York. No one was loud or rude. No one impinges on anyone else's personal space. In fact, some guy offered his seat to me when I was standing. Imagine that. He was being respectful to me - a guy who was forty plus years older than he. Of course, I turned him down. What a burden is vanity!
This is going on much longer that I had intended so I'm not going to tell about our train ride from Beijing to Chongqing, a distance of a 27 hours and about a thousand miles. That story may be told later..