Went to Beijing today with Hensley, Ying and Yvette. We took the bullet train which seemed to float to Beijing. It is on a high speed magnetic rail and got us there in half an hour. A car would have taken over two and a half hours. Imagine, just a third of the time. Wouldn't it be nice to go from Atlanta to Nashville or Savannah in less than an hour and a half? Oh well, maybe politics will get out of the way eventually.
Beijing is a city very much like Tianjin in size. There are a lot more tourist sites there, though, so people are accustomed to westerners. It was nice not being stared at for a day. Yvette wanted to do some shopping so we went to that area. There are a lot of American chains there including a Forever 21. I went and stood inside for a while. I've tried this at home, but it didn't work here either.
When we got back to Tianjin, the three of them had to go in a different direction so I went off alone. I started walking in the direction of the hospital and tried to flag down a cab. It was rush hour, so no luck. I had a map but could not locate my position as the streets are poorly marked. I showed it to the first young couple I saw and asked them to point me in the right direction. The young guy spoke excellent English and said "you're going to the TCM Hospital? I'm going there too, you need the 650 bus. Just follow me." I followed him to the bus stop, but I wondered how it could be that some random stranger happened to be going to exactly the same stop across town. I wondered even more when his companion got on a different bus. The bus came and it was jammed. The proverbial sardines, squared. We had to stand, and the bus alternately lurched and sped forward where it could. What a ride, but I couldn't have fallen if I wanted to. Meanwhile, the kid kept talking to me in English. He was very sweet and asked a lot of questions about America. He told me he had studied English because he liked it. Then it occurred to me that he had done this to be able to practice it for the duration of the trip. He had even paid for my fare with his card. We got out at the hospital and we exchanged a few more pleasantries. Then he said, "well, I have to go home now". Wow, that was the nicest thing a stranger has ever done for me. Kudos to China. (and, yes, I checked to make sure my wallet was still there.)