Friday, October 14, 2005


I was a little worried about sleeping through our station. Fortunately the Chinese railroad has a nice system to make sure everyone is awake for their station. When you board, you trade in your paper ticket for a plastic tag. You ticket its then placed in a binder under the destination. Half and hour before arriving at each stop, the conductors go around and wake everyone up who appears on that station's particular page. At 6am I was woken and treated to some spectacular views of the mountains as we passed through the Chinese countryside. I was immediately reminded of the train trip from Paris to Zurich, passing through the Swiss Alps.

We arrived in Jinan at 6:30 and immediately left the station in search for some food. We paid a tricycle taxi 5 RMB to take us to a good place to eat. He clearly had taken advantage of us because he took us about 100 yards away, which we clearly could have walked... I guess though that we were paying for his knowledge and not the transportation. The street he brough us to was full of street food vendors. I have often found in China that some of the best food (and cheapest) is the street food. At first I was a little wary of trying the steet food... if you saw some of the conditions that the food is cooked in, you'd understand. Lets just say that the Department of Health would have a field day here. But surprisingly, I have never gotten sick from the street food in China and it has always been very good. And that is something I cannot say for the street food in Philadelphia. I ended up having two of these pita-bread-like things filled with chopped chicken and chili peppers, some onion roti bread, and a deep-fried bread almost like a Mexican churro. Total cost: 3 RMB ($0.36). NS and I then went into a store to buy some food-stuffs for the train journey to Chongqing (and another two bottles of wine although this time I opted for Chardonnay over Cabernet Savignon). Then it was back to the train station to board the train.