The picture to your left is my Shanghai friend and me in Shanghai railway station. There are multiple things wrong with this picture and I'll point them out. 1) My BLONDE classmate and I are in SHANGHAI railway station. 2) This station is where most of the migrant workers leave for their hometowns, and where there are not too many foreigners, much less blonde ones. Needless to say, we got a lot of stares. 3) We're meditating in a train station, on towels(more stares??).Now before I go on, I want to establish that I am not badmouthing immigrants, or the railway, or anything like that. These people are hardworking, have families, and are just trying to scratch(a very difficult) living. I am only saying that, to be a minority, felt...bizarre. In America we frequently take for granted the plethora of faces and colors we see on a day-to-day basis. But what happens when your face is the only face not congruent in the crowd? Who do you look to? There is no reassurance, especially with the fact that my Chinese is pretty much deplorable. We can't blend in, how would we? We look perfectly like foreigners.
Buying a ticket in China is FAR different than that in the U.S. My advice: Don't wait till the last day, expecting to catch a train that night, because most likely it'll be sold out. The railways are the most highly used transit system in China, followed closely by metro, and (soon to be surpassed by) the car. We had to suffice with an early 动车, or "Fast-Train" at 7:10 am on Saturday morning; AFTER we our stay was up in the dorms on Friday night :\. So for some reason, something possessed my friend and I to attempt to stay the night in the station. But around 11 pm things became real strange, and my friend Karen(the one sitting with me in the picture) insisted that we stay the night at her house. Her mother and she... were just ridiculously kind and again fortified my belief that Chinese people are some of the most hospitable people on this planet. Her mom, no joke, was like a living Buddha, and she WOULD NOT let us leave until we had enough water, food, and money for a cab. Truly I could not have been more humbled. Well.. that's the train ride... and I'll let you see for yourself where 11 hours on a train can get you ;)