APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) had their huge meeting in Beijing this year. Everything shut down. It was like Golden Week all over again. The government wanted air pollution and traffic to be at a minimum so they shut a bunch of stuff down for a week. This included B’s school. He had off November 7-12 (but had to work a Saturday and a Sunday to make up for some of it). Initially, we were thinking of traveling to Chengdu to see the pandas in a panda preserve there, but the longer we took to decide (overnight train vs. flying, etc.) the more expensive it was getting, so instead we decided to take a mini vacation to Tianjin, just 37 minutes away via high speed train. We booked a hotel for a few nights and the next day we found out the Young Women’s Girls Camp was going to be while we were gone. Luckily, since we’d decided against Chengdu, all we had to do was cancel the reservations and make them again for the second half of the APEC holiday. Princess Sparkley went to camp Thursday night (to the leader’s house), then to the Great Wall Friday and home late late Saturday night.* Sunday we left for Tianjin.
We’d read online that the high speed train (at least to Tianjin) is easy as far as buying tickets goes because they leave every thirty minutes or so meaning there is no need for advance purchase. We didn’t take into account APEC week traveling and needing 5 tickets (Squirt is free) on the same train. We bought our tickets and then had FIVE hours to kill at the Beijing South Train Station.
We started at Pizza Hut (which, so far in Beijing has always been a nice, sit down restaurant with a rather extensive (not just pizza) menu. Squirt and I took pictures. We all explored the train station a bit next. Squirt liked going in the various stores. The kids played their Kindles. We created a spectacle with our giant family. And finally… FINALLY, we boarded our train and 37 minutes later we were in Tianjin. I wish we had a high speed train to church!
Did I mention my camera died? Not that it was great, but my cell phone doesn’t always do a good job either (see below).
Having gone through security twice (Beijing subways have medal detectors and then the train station security), Buddy had wondered if all the restaurants and shops in the train station had to put their food and products through security. On one of Squirt and my walks around the station, we saw it happening.
*The subway ride from the leader’s apartment was going to be about an hour and a half. PS was supposed to get dropped off at 9pm and the subway shuts down between 11 and 11:40pm. She didn’t get dropped off until after 10 due to getting lost, dropping other girls off, and getting stopped twice on the drive from the Great Wall and being required to show their passports (extra security due to APEC). She and B got home close to midnight just making the last train.