On the move again, I had purposely booked late trains so we didn’t need to get up early however a 9.50am train still required a 7am start due to queuing for security checks, queuing to get into the train station, and queuing for more security checks. We haven’t done enough queuing in China yet.
All went smoothly until we tried to find the entrance to the train station. We ended up in the ticket office, arrivals area then eventually the departure hall. It really shouldn’t be this difficult!!!
Breakfast required. After yesterday’s dumpling success we decided to do it again. However we had chosen a Korean restaurant where the dumplings are massive and doughy so not quite the same. Nice but not what we were expecting!
We waited in the common waiting room as we were travelling hard seat class (only 1.5 hour journey so no comfort required.) Soft seat and other classes have their own waiting rooms
Our waiting area was heaving and it was still an hour to go. You need to be at the station in plenty of time as the train doors are closed 5 mins before leaving and you are expected to be in the waiting room at least 15mins before departure. Not like home eh? When you are rushing through Birmingham New Street at 11pm for the last train to Coventry and skid through the doors with a couple of seconds all because you needed that last snack (ahem, bottle of wine) from M&S????!!!
Our seats were 49 and 50. They were not together. Guy interrupted a group of blokes who were sharing a bottle of Baiju (it was 9.15am when we boarded) and didn’t seem that chuffed about his intrusion. I had a random collection of people but the closest person to me was a young lad with a steaming nose and violent sneezes. Probably just as well Guy wasn’t with me, he can nurse me though whatever illness this guy was spraying around the carriage.
Again I am surprised by the friendliness of the locals, everyone smiling and Ni Hao’ing, it is lovely, the background Chinese pop music is less appealing.
Train arrived on time into a shiny new station. We walk about a mile to the subway platform and get to our hostel with only one wrong turn.
The first thing we notice about the hostel is the massive drinks selection, especially whisky, behind the very fancy bar. I double check the booking and we are in a backpackers. Guy is looking hopefully at the Octomore. I remind him of our budget. It doesn’t stretch to Islay single malts.
We decide to take a walk around our new town and set off, it is grey and overcast but we pass some lovely looking colonial architecture which is a really nice change. We headed towards the river front however ended up walking along a 6 lane road so change tactics and revert back into town in search of sustenance.
We found it in the form of Guilian noodles, our new favourite food. The rice noodles are served in a really meaty stock, with various accompaniments, Guy has slow braised beef in star anise with coriander and spring onions, the woman in charge asks if he wants a (black) egg with it, when he agrees she whoops like she has won the lottery. Guy looks scared. I have the minced beef, coriander and sweetcorn version without egg.
Tianjin seems to be one massive construction site. My Aunt was here in 2013 and said it was the same then. It doesn’t look even halfway finished so if you are thinking of visiting I would leave it about 10 years then it will be shiny and new with no closed roads or construction traffic. In between the building works it looks new. Even the Ancient Culture Street tourist part looks suspiciously new and clean. It is set up for Chinese tourists to buy lots of stuff. No fridge magnets or postcards for us western tourists!
The rain is getting worse, so we dive in a Carrefour to see about a memory card. I spend ages looking at hair products (my hair is going feral) and Guy ends up with a shop assistant guiding him to a different shop where they sell memory cards, you wouldn’t get that from a French Carrefour assistant!!!!
We get a tube home as it is only 2 yuan each and raining hard now.
Afternoon cake is still required though so we stop at a bakery conveniently located near our hostel and select cakes, I try and ask for tea, no luck. Guy orders a purple yam latte but they have run out of hot water so he will never know what a purple yam latte tastes like. Cakes are really good though!
We stock up on water and food at a local supermarket and have a quiet night in catching up on diaries blogging.