Day 5 : Beijing Bound
With only 3 hours sleep we headed to the Shanghai Train Station to board our 7am speed train to Beijing. The journey to Beijing should take 10 hours by regular train, however the speed train reached speeds of up to 400km per hour and cuts the journey down to just over 5. The Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway (or Jinghu High-Speed Railway from its Chinese name) is a 1,318-kilometre (819 mi) long high-speed railway that connects two major economic zones in the People’s Republic of China, the Bohai Economic Rim and the Yangtze River Delta.[
I booked the train before leaving Australia, purely for the fact that it was a totally unique experience. And it was. With the countryside rushing by, but still with a clear view , it was great to see the small villages on the outskirts of Shanghai and Nanjing and then into Beijing. The time flew by and we seemed to arrive into Beijing station within no time.
Flagging a cab and going through the motions of the language barrier gestures, we were finally understood and heading to the Raffles Hotel. The iconic Beijing experience, located beside the Forbidden City, Raffles is the epitome of the best of Beijing’s past, combining with all the excitement and sophistication of contemporary China.
Beijing is not like Shanghai at all. Much more old school, less glitz, less glamour. The Raffles Hotel Beijing was pure majesty. We were met by the Ambassador of the Hotel, John, another Aussie, who once again suggested some places of interest and in general where we were and what was near by. He gave us the Chinese directions for a taxi to the hotel, the Subway train lines to get back to the Hotel and some maps. Again, very helpful as even less people speak English, and the drivers can’t always read the maps.
Its pure Ming Dynasty architecture, peaked roof lines, mixed with grand majestic Grand English building and hotels. Plus the multi living condensed apartment blocks. They say all day everyday is peak hour in Beijing..and it proved to be correct. Traffic at a standstill everywhere. So we finally checked into our room and then straight out again and to the underground subway to take 3 stops line one, to the shopping markets. Again. Simple instructions to catch the train..but its crazy in that subway and all in Chinese..The simplest things proved to be a challenge.
But we got to the markets and manged to pick up some more bargains and even squeezed in much needed foot massage. We ate a local hawker stall after shopping and headed back to the Raffles…Exhausted.