Tianjin: Wednesday, Nov. 12

Finishing up in Tianjin.

The kids got ahold of my phone and took a lot of crazy pictures.  We woke, dressed, packed and went to the train station to buy tickets (to avoid a 5 hour wait).  I was unnessessary this time, we could have hopped on a train in 20 minutes but our luggage was at the hotel.  We ate breakfast at the train station McDonald’s (Egg McMuffins minus the cheese for some reason).  Tickets in hand, we headed back to the hotel, finished packing, double-checked that we’d left nothing behind and checked out.

Orange Juice machine in our mall.  We finally had a 10 yuan note and tried it out.  Pretty good.
Waiting for the train back to Beijing.

A Vacation: Tianjin, China

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.

Riding the Subway to Church

The Beijing Subway Map
We live on line 1 (red), way out to the left a few stops from the end near Yuquanlu (You-chwon-loo) station.  To get to church we have to take the red line from Yuquanlu to Fuxingmen (Foo-shing-men).  There we transfer to line 2 (blue) and take it up and over (to avoid the downtown part of line 1 which gets crazy crowded) to Dongzhimen (Dong-dgee-men).  From there we take 13 (yellow) for one stop to Liufang (Lou-fong). Here’s a Beijing map of it all:

It takes about an hour and a half from door to door.  Squirt hates it.  And so far, the subway has been crowded and so full of stairs that it’s actually easier to not take the stroller, which is sort of a pain.

From last week, 9/21: These are all taken on our last train which is empty when we get on it so we all got seats.

B captured this on an earlier train that was much more crowded.  Usually people will quickly give up a seat for a parent with Squirt and sometimes for the other kids as well.  That’s been really nice.

From this week, 9/28, B has to work (in order to get a week off starting October 1 for China’s National Day) so I was on my own with the kids.

We’re pretty famous on the subway since there are four kids and they are all light-haired but Squirt is super popular.  He gets his pictures taken several times on the way to and from church.  Some selfies with Chinese ladies.  Some people know enough English to ask.  Sometimes I can just see the reflection of the phone screen of the people across the aisle and I can see that they are taking his picture.

Our first Sunday, while walking through the station to the third train we started to see Americans dressed for church and followed them.  It was an English teaching group associated with BYU-I. Now we are the people to follow.  This Sunday and last Sunday, vacationers ran into us and asked to follow us to church.  It seems like most members drive cars/taxis to church but there are a handful of us that take the subway.