Getting the tickets for the train to Beijing was a bigger pain than I thought it would be, but the train was even more of an experience. We got the $26 bargain tickets for a reason, I guess. We got to the train rushed as usual, nervous we would miss the train at 10pm. We arrived just in time to see the mess of a "line" that was really a mob of crazy people that reminded me of the expo lines again. We found our train and we got in the cabin to see there was almost not enough room for our huge luggage. Lucas had to use his monkey climbing skills to jump on the seats and throw our luggage in the last remaining spots above people's heads before it was too late.
We found out our seats were not together, but Lucas got a person to move so we could squeeze in together in two seats facing two other seats that face each other. The seats were made of wood with a small fabric covering and the leg room was non-existent. The first thing we smelled was a man smoking right next to the no-smoking sign. The rest of the trip was smells of noodle bowls, smoke and sounds of loud people speaking on their phones and constant random ring-tones.
We slept tossing and turning as our legs and butts fell asleep and we were woken up by the randomness as I said above. We arrived in Beijing 12 hours later to see more mayhem and more pollution than I thought was possible. Beijing beat Shanghai on pollution 10-fold. The crowds in front were full of smoking, loud people that only wanted to push each other over. I pushed through with my suitcase as I saw our ride and knocked a lady's luggage everywhere. I am so used to being the native Shanghainese that I pushed on with all common courtesy behind me.
We drove to Lucas' dad's house which is about 30 minutes out of the city. The city locked us in a gray bubble that wouldn't let the sky bust through. I felt like the whole world was left behind and only 1/2 a mile in every direction existed for the moment.
We stopped at an Indian restaurant for a moment due to our starvation from the train. We were tricked into eating some paneer from a man at the restaurant who said it was all "pure vegetarian" without milk or eggs, I guess cheese isn't made of milk now? We got Jason from school and went to the house to watch him and help him study some English.