Monday, March 28, 2011

Leaving on the Midnight train to Tianjin (Part 2)

We literally left at midnight on the overnight train to Tianjin.  Tianjin is about 25 minutes by train from Beijing.  It is the city where the emperor would have people go to instead of Beijing.  There they would wait for their invitation.  It also has been  the home of many foreigners over the years.  There is a European part of town and quite a bit of European influence in the architecture. Tianjin is where Eric Liddell was born and where he served when he came back to China.
Taking the train is always interesting.  We have done the fast train to Beijing and a hard sleeper to Hailaer.  A hard sleeper has six beds to a compartment and the beds are, well, hard.  A soft sleeper has four beds to a compartment and the beds are kind of soft.  Either way, you are using a group squatty patty that can be quite unpleasant.  Aside from that, train travel is really great.  We got on a little after midnight, slept badly until about 7:00 and got off in Tianjin.  
One funny thing was the light.  In a hard sleeper, the lights go off at 10:00. We were expecting the lights be off when we got on the train but they weren't.  We asked our cabin mate when they would go off and he said the train would turn them off soon.  In the morning, we discovered the switch that turned them off.  Life here is constant learning!

In spite of the officially aesthetic position of the government,  religion is alive and well here.  We went to a Buddhist temple while we were there (no pictures as the camera malfunctioned) and it was packed with people burning incense and offering incense to the many gods.  Most of the people we know here share the same beliefs as we do or have no religion at all. It would be interesting to talk to someone who is a Buddhist in today's China to see what exactly they believe and how it impacts their lives.

I love these small tea pots!  I
 found one in a market that had a dragon pattern on it.   I loved it so Paul bought it for me.

The drum tower.

We spent most of the day at the Zhou Enlai memorial and the history museum (yes, I am a very good wife) .  Zhou Enlai was the first premier of China and a hero to the Chinese people. He was a moderate during the Cultural Revolution.  Interestingly, Nixon coming to China was a very small part of the memorial.  It was commemorated only by this small picture.

Watch out?  There was no water in the stream.

There is always this interesting contrast of old and new in  China.  A water park, next to the memorial.  The buildings are not old, just old style.

I think that every Chinese museum we have been to has this kind of display  of white statues at the entrance.  Many people were putting down flowers in front of the stature.  A woman was cleaning them up so they could be re-bought and re-offered.

Every Chinese museum also has these amazingly lifelike scenes.  This is of Zhou Enlai and his wife and other fellow students as they get ready to form the new China.

In the Tianjin history museum, we were shown around by charming students from NanKai university.  They explained the displays in great detail.  This one stood out to me because of the great omission. It says "Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a great paleontologist and head of the French Association of Geology.  In May 1923, he came to Tianjin.  He had taken part in the research of Peking Man at ZhouKoudian."  The interesting part to me is what isn't mentioned- that he was a Jesuit.  The picture is of him in his priest collar.  He was in China on the duties and scholarly research described in the picture.  He was a controversial Jesuit but I still find it a curious omission.

So where did our little guy go while we were gone?  Well, he went to Miss Jones's House of Boys!  There he hung out with two other little foster sons and had a great time.  They seemed to all have survived! Miss Jones is a teacher here in our city and she has an adorable foster son. She kept our little guy and another friend's little guy (he was at our house for an afternoon a few weeks ago).

Here they did a little tummy time practice with her roomate.

We took the fast train back yesterday afternoon.  The kids from the Shenyang International School were in the car ahead of us but we tried not to embarrass our daughter and stayed back in our car.  It was a good weekend for all of us.


Lillie's Mom said...

Thanks as always for sharing your walk with us! The beautiful smiling pictures, the fascinating images of a place I still find myself longing for- and the hard stuff of life too. Authenticity is such a rare and very attractive quality these days...

Tarasview said...

you are a very good wife :) I'm glad you had a good trip.

I have experienced squatty potties when I was on missions in Nepal. Oh how I hated those things!! Ick.