Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Went to Tianjin for lunch today. Believe it or not, I had never been to Tianjin before today. The main reason for that is that it used to be a real nuisance to get down there. Then a few years ago, the government started to brag about the new high speed train from Beijing to Tianjin. But folks I knew who were from Tianjin told me they never used it because it runs from Beijing South Train Station, and getting down there was such a nightmare it was easier to just take a regular train from the main Beijing train station. Line 4 changed all that. The new Line 4 subway goes directly to the South train station. Once you get to Beijing South and board the train, the high speed train makes the 120 kilometer trip in about 30 minutes. And there's a train leaving from Beijing to Tianjin every 15 minutes. So I can get from my place in the village to Tianjin in a couple hours or so.

The old British concession is just over the Liberation bridge from the train station. Walking down the main street, you can see the old buildings from the colonial period on both sides of the street. Probably the most notable would be the old Astor House Hotel, which was built in 1863, during the American Civil War. The hotel has been expanded now, but the old section is still pretty much the way it was during the middle half of the nineteenth century.

I had lunch at a place called "YY Beer House." The name of the place makes it sound like a bar, but it's actually a Thai restaurant that serves really good food for a surprisingly good price. Dump of a place, but it's nice.

On the way down there, I got in a conversation with a young lady I met in the ticket line. I asked her about where to buy the ticket, because she seemed to be experienced with the route. When I boarded the train I discovered that she was sitting right across the aisle from me (probably because she bought her ticket at the same time I did). She is a student at a Xueyuan (sorta like a community college) of some kind in Tianjin. I'd be interested to know what her story is. I'm always somewhat taken aback when I meet college students who don't speak any English, and she looked to be just a bit older than the average university student. But she was friendly and chatty and quite a good communicator, so if she manages to pick up some English, I am sure she will be able to get a job of some kind. The one thing folks like her have going for them is that they happen to live in a country with a roaring economy.

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