Night Train

As expected, we’ve been busy in Dalian. We’ve been visiting classes, giving lectures, conducting workshops, and meeting with faculty and administrators at 3 different universities. I’ve had no time for touring, and little time for blogging, so I need to get caught up here. First things first–we arrived from Beijing via the night train, an 11-hour journey. I’m not sure this sort of thing typically merits 10+ pictures, but in our case I think it does!  Some of us had been nervous about this leg of our journey, and we all wondered about the close quarters (4 individuals per compartment, with lower and upper bunks–a standard “soft sleeper,” which is definitely much more comfortable than a “hard sleeper”), the comfort and hygiene of the bathrooms on board, and the likelihood of getting a decent amount of sleep, as we had an ambitious schedule before us in Dalian.  So there was definitely some apprehension as we worked our way through the seeming chaos of the train station to board our train.

This picture above suggests much more calm than what we actually experienced at the station, but I couldn’t capture by camera the rather frenzied atmosphere and movement in the station.  I could only take snapshots during these more tranquil moments–when we weren’t being ushered along by both the crowds and the station staff and security who seemed somewhat concerned about a large group of “foreigners” (us) who looked rather disoriented and had way, way too much luggage with them!  (As it turned out, the train conductor politely scolded us when we boarded, just before arrival at the 10th hour, and once again as we got off the train!)  These pictures below aren’t the best quality, but I wanted to document as much as I could!

I actually think the train is a fascinating vernacular space where you get to encounter and chat with interesting folks that you might not otherwise encounter (and I’m always looking for opportunities to practice my spoken Chinese!), but the night train was more about sleeping than chatting.  In any case, despite the close quarters, we got comfortable.

night train 8

night train 9

And 11 hours later, we arrived in Dalian:

For what happened next, see Cheryl’s post, “Steven and the Firecracker”


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