Art and trains

Trip Start Jun 04, 2009
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Trip End Jul 02, 2009


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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Jason and I woke up and went for a walk through our neighborhood.  I was sad to see that sandwich mama wasn't making her egg goodies but we did find a great little place for steamed dumplings and spicy green beans.  Next we went to an area known as the 798.  It's an old army "radio" factory that has been turned into Beijing's art district.  Simply put it was awesome.  You wonder around this old complex of buildings and warehouses and there are steam pipes and conduit  running everywhere.  All the buildings have been turned into art studios, coffee shops, or hipster restaurants.  We spent the entire day wondering from art gallery to art gallery.  China is not exactly shy of corporate sponsorship, so Nike built a gym with a really nice basketball court with bleachers, scoreboard, abundance of balls, and two shrines to honor the shoes of Lebron James.  Jason and I shot hoops for a bit with some kids and a 70 year old man with a fierce 18 foot jumper.
That night we were meeting Jason's wife, Sara, at the Beijing rail station to move the journey to the Szechuan province.  Man o man that is one giant train station.  Upon boarding the train I bought snacks and beer from a vendor next to the tracks.  The train was to be a 26 hour trip on board a hard sleeper.  That means we had no seat but were on bunks stacked 4 high facing another stack.  The bunks were open to the walk way for no privacy and no peace and quiet.  We played a lot of cards, and I was glad for the beer I bought and the vodka I had in my pack. 
We went to the food car for a late dinner.  Sara is a vegetarian and was trying to order a meat free meal from a cute girl who didn't speak any English.  After awhile the waitress grabbed a pen and paper and drew a pig.  Sara shook her head no.  Next a chicken was drawn, nope.  Than a fish and a cow, more head shaking.  Bam, the waitress had it, said something in Chinese and eventually came back with a bowl of steamed vegetables and rice.  I had it much easier, I merely pointed at the whole fish the table next to me was eating.  That fish was easily in my top 5 meals in China.
26 hours on a train, woof.  Little did I know that I'd be spending a lot more time on trains for the remainder of my trip.
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