My last visit to China I had planned to take the 4 hour train trip from Beijing to Chengde to visit the Emperor's Summer Villa.
Being alone and having NO knowledge of the Chinese language, I proceeded early one morning to the Beijing train station to begin my journey.
I realized immediately I might have a problem !!! Hundreds of Chinese passengers were milling inside the station. Hurrying back and forth to their
designated gates. As I stared up at the information board I realized the departures listed were later that evening. It was 7:10 AM and my train was
scheduled to leave at 8:30 AM ?!?!?? I then proceeded to walk up to these total strangers and show them my ticket. Each one of them pointed to different directions
until I finally arrive at the correct gate.
Not knowing exactly where I could sit, one of the train attendants pointed me to the inside of a car (train) . As I glanced around I noticed there were some individual
seats with small tables. I sat down in one and began writing out some postcards to send back to the states. Suddenly, an elderly man standing right beside me
started yelling "OUT" "OUT" !!! I had no idea why he was doing that. Then he pointed t a number on his ticket which read "21". Then he pointed to the wall
beside my seat which also read "21".
I realized the seats must be assigned and I was NOT in mine !!!. When I finally found my seat it was across the aisle from a young couple. Turns out the boy
spoke a little ENGLISH. We occasionally chatted back and forth and I was so pleased to have someone to talk with on the train.
I asked him to take my picture sitting in my seat. He did and in return I handed them each a Hersey's almond candy bar. It was a little comical watching them
read all the ingredients on the back of the cover. I tried to explain that it was very good and one of the most popular candy bars in the USA.
When we reached the station in Chengde the young man asked if I knew where I was going ? I told him I had absolutely no idea, except I had the name of the hotel
and was just going to give it to one of the taxi drivers. He told me to follow him. As we got off the train, about 8-9 people converge to the young couple.
I'm guessing it was all family/ friends. Then the girl left with most of the people and it was just the young man,his parents (I guess) and I standing there.
As we walked towards the taxis, I was so grateful that he had made sure I got to the taxi. Then his parents and he got into the back seat as he told me to sit in the
front with the driver. He then spoke to the driver (in Chinese) and we were off to destination unknown !!!
In about 10 minutes we arrived at my hotel. The young man got out and help me carry my luggage into the lobby. To my disappointment no one at the desk spoke
ENGLISH !!! I was very upset, because this was a well recommended property in a very tourist location. The young man smiled and with his help I was checked into
I can't even begin to express how grateful and impressed I was that this young man (and his parents) had gone out of their way to make sure I was secured in
my hotel. I realized my situation would have been a very negative incident if it were not for the kindness of these total strangers. I'm told that the Chinese people
don't like or care about Americans. I can honestly say this was my second trip to China and I have experience all types friendly gestures on the part of the local
residents. And for this reason, I hope to visit China again in the very near future
PART 2 of my visit is my experience trying to get back to Beijing during the holiday period. I will write that soon
thank you..... GIL TORI