China Trip – Shenyang to Beijing Train

Saturday I woke up a little late since I set my alarm for weekdays only by accident. It was actually quite nice to get some rest since I was quite tired during the week getting over the jet lag. After breakfast I took the taxi to the Shenyang North Train Station. The train station is quite large and is the stop for the high speed trains for Shenyang to Beijing. Trying to buy a ticket was interesting with the language barrier but after a lot of pointing I got my ticket for the train. I had gotten there a lot earlier than I needed since the first open train was not for another 2 hours. After getting through security (a x-ray machine with no one looking for anything, a metal detector that was going off for 100% of the passengers and security mainly looking for suspicious people) I sat down to read for a bit. At one point a small boy walked past me and looked at me wide eyed like he was seeing a foreigner for the first time. It was rather cute.

The train ride was rather long and was 30 minutes longer than expected. It ended up being a 4.5 hour train ride I guess due to the high amount of smog and limited visibility (possibly causing the train to have to travel slower). Unfortunately the ticket counter did not understand me when I had requested 1st class (only 50 RMB more for a lot more room) but it was not that bad. A lot of people staring when I boarded the train and started walking down the aisle. I was seated in a middle seat at first but a couple was trying to sit together so I switched seats with the man. His seat ticket was for another car back on the aisle next to a nice couple with a new born baby. The scenery on the way down was filled with a lot of smog, farm land, and a lot of dilapidated houses and buildings. However, there were also a lot of pretty views of mountains and the country side. I am sure even nicer if one could see it through the terrible smog.

The arrival into Beijing Central Rail Station was cool getting to see a lot more of Beijing from the train. The smog in Beijing was even worse not allowing you to see the top of buildings that you were looking up at. I got off the train and the large amount of smog had immediate effects, making my eyes and lungs hurt.  I found the taxi stand with a long line of 100+ people waiting but it also gave me a chance to take some pictures of the rail station and stretch my legs after sitting for so long. The line moved slowly and we were all constantly being barraged by illegal taxi drivers wanting to over charge and fill out their cars. After an hour wait I was able to get a taxi to the hotel. The drive to the hotel was not too bad other than the taxi driver not knowing where the hotel was (mainly since it is a little further away from the city center). Beijing is surrounded by 5 rings that are the main roads. The hotel was on the outside of the 5th ring since it is closer to the ZF plant which is right across the street from the BBAC/Mercedes joint venture. We ended up finding it OK and after a long day I ate a quick dinner in the hotel and relaxed in the hotel room the rest of the night.