Celebrations Everywhere! Visiting My Dad’s Hometown
I’m on a train between Binhai and Beijing right now.
Despite this train being so crowded and stuffy, there’s a nice kind of silence around me. Most people are sleeping or resting. There’s some feet shuffling, coughs and sighs, quiet snoring, and the sound of train tracks passing by under me.
The past week has been so crazy. Last week I celebrated Chinese New Year and my birthday with grandparents and my aunt in Beijing, and then I took a train to my dad’s hometown, Binhai, where my niece had her wedding, and my cousin had a pre-wedding dinner celebration. Four days later, I’m taking a train back to Beijing to start my exchange at Tsinghua University.
There was so much going on every day, especially in Binhai. My dad has five older sisters and two brothers so you can imagine how many relatives I have over there. They speak a dialect so half the time I can’t understand what they’re talking about, but I try my best to add to the conversation. Being surrounded by so many relatives, and meeting new ones every day is something I’m not used to. It’s so great so be with them but at the same time it can be tiring when I’m with people like 24 hours a day. Okay fine, when I’m sleeping it doesn’t count but from the time I wake up in the morning to the time I close my eyes, I literally have people by my side all the time–even when I’m sleeping since I shared a bed with my other niece.
It’s ironic. I’m on the squishiest and stuffiest train I’ve ever been on, but I have space to myself, finally. You know what I’m saying?
Right now it’s midnight. I’ve been on this train for six hours and I still have six more hours of peace and quiet, then I have to get back to craziness. Once I get off this train, I’m off to my grandparents’ house to pack all my stuff and move into the dorms at Tsinghua, all on the same day. This is exciting!
Update: after the train ride
I tried to sleep on the train, but it was so uncomfortable that I only slept one hour. There was one stop on the train where a bajillion people got on. In China, you can buy sleeping, sitting or standing train tickets (mine was a sitting one) so there were people everywhere in the aisle. The washroom was about 8 metres from my seat, and it took me 5 minutes to get there! It was that crowded.
On the car ride back to my grandparents’ place, I told my uncle about the crowded train and showed him pictures. He said that this wasn’t actually crowded. He said he took a 40 hour train ride before and it was so crowded that people were even squished into the washrooms (size comparable to airplane washrooms). I feel better about my train ride now—at least I could actually use the washroom.