Tuesday morning Kevin picked me up at 8:15 to buy train tickets and then drop me off at the train station. Kevin’s cook/maid Xiao He came along to purchase the tickets for me. When she isn’t cooking and cleaning Xiao He sells Mary Kay cosmetics. We went to a ticket office at Syno Mall, it’s easier to get tickets there than at the train station. I couldn’t get a seat on the train I wanted so I had to take a later train. Since we had an extra hour to kill we went into KFC for a late morning snack.
When I first arrived at the train station I was a little worried because I had no idea where to go to board the train. Fortunately I had plenty of time to figure it out. The train station is pretty big. I found a kid who spoke enough English to point me in the right direction. Once I knew where I was going it was easy.
The ride to Jinan was very smooth and except for the two stops along the way we were cruising at constant 197 kph. For the metrically challenged that’s 122 MPH, not a super high speed train, but fast enough.
The streets around the train station in Jinan were a sea of humanity. There was some kind of festival going on. Street vendors, lots and lots of girls handing out fliers and samples for products and services. People coming and going in every direction. Fortunately, the cars and buses were only going in one direction which is not necessarily a common occurrence in China. I don’t know all the traffic rules in
China, but the one overriding rule is this: The person (car, bike, pedestrian) with the biggest pair of nads has the right of way. Of course if you are a pedestrian and you are wrong then your not quite big enough pair will be mashed into the pavement so as a pedestrian a healthy dose of common sense is vital.
Thanks to Google Maps I was able to make my way to Baotu Springs Park. It was an interesting park but you don’t get much for the 40 rmb entry fee. On the way to the park I ran into the pleasant aroma of a Chinese BBQ wafting up from a side street. Following the smell I found several BBQ places with outdoor and indoor seating. I picked one and chose to
sit inside. I just happened to have my translated menu from the BBQ place I frequent in Weifang. The offerings were not quite the same but with it I managed to order 10 skewers of pork, 10 skewers of lamb, 2 chicken wings, a plate of edamame, and a beer. The pork skewers each had two small pieces of pork with a garlic clove in between with little to no other seasoning. The lamb was seasoned nicely and I don’t know enough about herbs and spices to tell what it was. Both pork and lamb were awesomelicious. The chicken wings were not spiced and were ok. Stuffed myself for 30 rmb ($4.54)
In China it is very common for old men to keep birds as pets. The have them in cages and carry them to parks, hang the cages in trees, and sit around shooting the breeze with other old guys. Sometimes they will play cards or other games. I watched them play for awhile and have no idea what card game they were playing.
After wandering around the park for about an hour I returned to the train station. The chaos of the festival was still in full swing around the train station. I still had a couple hours to wait for my train so I ducked into the local McDonald’s for some ice cream.
I made my way into the train station and waiting room number 3. I decided to visit the bathroom. Fortunately, I only needed a urinal and not a toilet because urinals they had, toilets not so much, just openings in the floor. They were in stalls, but near as I could tell hardly anyone bothered to close the door while squatting over the hole. I didn’t see any toilet paper either. The floor in the bathroom was completely wet which made me think about misguided American youth who wear those baggy pants with the pant legs dragging on the ground. From now on my shoes will be coming off my feet as soon as I enter my hotel room.
When I boarded the train back in Weifang it was easy to know when they were allowing access to the platform. In Jinan it wasn’t as easy. I could see they were letting people through but it seemed early. The guy standing next to me didn’t do English, but I pointed to the train number on my ticket and to the line of people and he shook his head yes. The return to Weifang was the same as the trip to Jinan, but I slept through one of the stops. I woke up cold and as I stood to grab my jacket I heard the announcement that the train was arriving in Weifang. I exited the train station, boarded the 56 bus which goes close to the hotel. I was exhausted, but it was an awesome day trip.
Click here for map showing points of interest in Weifang, Jinan, and Changyi. I’ll load more points as I visit them. Going to Shanghai and Taicang this weekend.