So... I get to the Hangzhou East Railway Station and immediately look at the big board. Station is absolutely packed because of the start of the holiday weekend.
My train isn't there. This is new. All the trains are listed in order of departure time. I'm here 30 minutes early. Plenty of time to find my gate. Lots of time to load. But it's not there. It should be there. WTF? Ok. What to do? Run to the internet and try and find train status. Running late? No dice. Am I in the right train station? Check. Right day and time? Check check. Send Aiyun a note. Do they change number? She says no. Ok. Remain calm. All is well. Right? I've got lots of time. Find a nice person that looks official that can help.
I walk back towards the main entrance and look for some form of help. I'm standing there looking confused and a dude walks up to me. "How can I help?" (in English). Wow. That was quick. I give him my story. We double check station, date, and time. All good. What's up? He tells me to wait right here. He leaves. He comes back. He tells me train is about 20 minutes late. Exhale.
Dude was super nice and I didn't get his name. Dang. I shook his hand and told him thanks. All good in the hood. Waited a bit and my train showed up on the big board. Going to need to find out how to check on train status moving forward. Standing around looking confused isn't usually my thing. Glad there was someone helpful nearby.
Due to the crazy travel weekend three of the four train tickets I purchased for this week are a bit different. Today I get to travel second class. I've always purchased first class tickets because the price is low enough that it's not a big deal. Second class is five seats wide while first class is always four seats wide. That extra seat makes a big difference. I'm a bit tight fitting into my seat. Two days from now I get a "hard sleeper". Not sure what that's going to be like. I'm imagining a small slab of plywood to lie down on. I searched for a few pics. Have a look.
That, I can live with. However, it's going to be one of the older green trains leaving out of the old Shanghai station. When I get to it, I'll share a picture.
I've been on a train several times now to Shanghai. I'm always a bit floored at how many apartment buildings I see out the window. So, yeah, I filmed it so you could see what I marvel at. This is two minutes long. The side of the train doesn't matter. Both sides look the same. An ocean of 15 to 20 floor apartment buildings and it just goes on as far as the eye can see.
I'm floored everytime I see it. Just imagine several hundred square miles of that. For the average Chinese citizen this is how they live. Over the last fifty years there's been a massive migration to the cities where people can find work. If you follow the news out of a China at all you've likely seen articles about lots of empty apartment buildings. I can confirm that's the case. Weirder still, there are cranes building new ones all over the place. My gut tells me this isn't a big deal as they are constantly moving people out of old buildings into new ones.
They talk about "buying" apartments, but they're all really 70 year leases. The first iterations of these long leases are about to come to an end. How will that play out? It's a concern for some. Once an apartment is fully purchased here in China they don't continue to pay property taxes like we do in the states. This means you have homes here in China where people aren't paying anything to live there. Again, that's about to change for some.
Shanghai arrival achieved. Looking forward to another adventure. Pics to follow. Tune into tomorrow, same Bat time, same Bat website... That reminds me of an interesting thought. You should always be yourself. It's good to be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. If you can be Batman you ought to be Batman.