We had to say goodbye to the bee farm today and make our way to the 3rd largest city in China of Tianjin. It started with having a last breakfast at the Bee Happy Farm which consisted of fruits, breads, and other dishes of varying saltiness, sweetness, and sour. We left our hotel earlier than originally planned, which was 9:00 PM and instead left around 15 minutes earlier to make the 2-hour van ride to the Beijing high speed train station. The van ride there was an uneventful, sleepy, and quite one. The Chinese countryside ran by us outside the van window, with many farms and people passing us by. I eventually fell asleep within the van, though it was an incomplete sleep to say the least. Between the times of restless sleep, I found that the Chinese roadways have unique quirks when compared to our own road system. One of my favorites were the timed traffic lights. The traffic lights have timers next to them to tell the driver when the light will turn green, yellow, and red. Takes the fun out of guessing when the light would turn, but useful none the less. After a few instances of stop and go traffic and many tolls (which was another quirk I saw during the ride), we finally arrived at the Beijing High Speed train station. We all gave our driver a warm goodbye and a thank you and entered the station.
The station itself was a large modern building which consisted of two floors. Before you went any further than right inside the entrance you had to check through security. A simple metal detector and bag x-ray was used and then you were manually pat down. The inside of the station was a modern, efficient station which contained thousands of people waiting for their high-speed trains. From this level you could not actually see the trains, as this part of the station sat on top of the train platforms. Our tickets were handed out to the group and we waited for around an hour before being let through the gate. During this lull we walked around looking at the different shops and food places within the station. It was reminiscent of an airport terminal as it was effectively the same thing. We boarded a sleek white high-speed train which would take 30 minutes to take us from Beijing to Tianjin. The train was shaped to be as aerodynamic as a bullet, though we were quickly corrected to not call it a “bullet train”. That is the Japanese high-speed train. After 30 minutes of seeing the world quickly rush by outside the window, and seeing different villages and cities pass by us we arrived in Tianjin. We met up with our tour guide, a local to the area who has been living in Tianjin his whole life. His name is Gin and he took us first to a wetland park/reservation slightly outside the city. It was about a 1-hour van ride to the park.
As we approached, he explained more about the city and how it held 15 million people, was the leading economic center for China, has the 9th and 5th tallest buildings in the world, and is the only city in China to be personally named by a Chinese emperor. The group walked around the very appealing and charming park which showed how the actual sewage of the city was being used to fuel the park. It was being used as a sort of fertilizer. Many different wonderful and stunning plants lined the pathways which gave the entire place an air of calming. After about an hour of walking we completed the loop within the park which Gin was leading us on and took our van to the hotel. Another van ride later we finally arrived at our hotel and went to have dinner with the kids from the language and culture program. To wrap up the day both groups went to the river front of the city after sundown to admire the beautiful city lights which illuminated the river below. A massive Ferris wheel, called the Tianjin Eye, loomed over the city giving of a red glow which clashed with the cool blue lights hitting the water from below. After getting our fill of pictures, and glowing bunny ears, we headed back to the hotel to settle in for the night.
By Connor Lopez
Note: All pictures taken by Connor