Early departure to get a train to Harbin.
Feb 5, 2018
|We left the hostel at 6am, to get a taxi to the Beijing South railway station. There were so many cars and tour buses at the end of the street, and it looked like it might prove difficult to flag down a taxi. We were approached by a man who offered to take us there for 100rmb! The hostel had suggested it should cost about 40rmb, so I offered him 50rmb. But he was not willing for that price. We ended up fixing on 70rmb. A little bit of a rip-off but at least we were in a car, on our way.
It was clear that he was not authorised to be delivering passengers to the station, as he tried to get us to leave the car quite a way from the station doors, but we said no, not getting out now. We gave him the money before we got to the set down point, and he quickly got our luggage out for us.
Now began the mission of finding out where we needed to be, but it was not too difficult this time. Must be experience starting to pay off. The departure board was bigger than in any airport I have ever seen, so many trains coming and going!
We found our way to the correct queue for our gate, and met up with our friends from the Kung Fu show the other night. We were all being hassled by porters wanting to take our luggage for 20rmb each, and put us into a VIP line. We had no idea how many barriers we would have to get through to get to the train, so in the end we agreed to do it. We were all wondering a little just where our cases would end up though.
But when the gates were opened, and we found our way to our train, the porter was waiting to show us exactly where he had left our cases, in a rack in our carriage. Such a relief!!
The train headed off north, into seriously cold country. So bleak and desolate, the people who farm out here must be made of stern stuff. It is not so unlike desert Australia, but cold instead of hot. And soon we were seeing snow laying all over the ground.
Quite a long way along, I went and stood at the doorway, because I could simply not stand to sit any longer. My legs were still really protesting the treatment I had given them yesterday. Anyway, I am so glad that I did, because a young guy came up and spoke to me.
He comes from Harbin, and is going home for his holiday. I can't remember where he said he works, but somewhere near to Qingdao. He has a whole twenty days of holiday, and is trying hard to improve his English, as the company he works for is a joint venture, German/Chinese affair. I think he said he is a mechanical engineer. His reason for lifting his English level is the opportunity he may have to travel and work in Germany for a time.
He said that he would help us off the train, and to get a taxi to our hostel, so that was so very kind of him. It was just a 'follow me' through the hoards. I'm not sure how many escalators we travelled on, before actually exiting at ground level. And boy, oh boy, was it cold up there.
He had called a didi car, and I tried to pay him for the car, but he would not hear of it. In fact he travelled with us to the hostel, before carrying on his way. He has two more hours to travel before he gets to his home.
We got checked in OK, to a rather dingy looking place, but at least it is warm. Our room is not special, but it is certainly warm, and that is the main thing.
We ventured out, to try and buy some gloves for Carol. The ones she has been using are just not up to the task here. We did look in a couple of restaurants, to see what potential there was around the hostel.
We found a supermarket, and actually got to find some gloves and mittens, then were helped by another Chinese guy, English name Jeremy, who works in Perth, but is home on holiday. He is part of a company who own three farms around Ongerup and Lake King!!
We connected on wechat, and he assured me that if we need any help, he is more than willing to be there for us!
By the time we got back to the hostel, we were more than happy to be snuggled up indoors, and decided that biscuits and snacks would do for dinner tonight. We were both aching, tired and cold!!
Tomorrow we will explore ways to get to the Ice and Snow Festival! But for tonight, sleep sounds like the best thing!