This was our first experience with a bullet train. We had toyed with the idea of taking an overnight train, but the bullet train was about the same price and it was twice as fast.
We had tried to purchase our train tickets ahead of time, but the satellite office we went to seemed really sketchy, so we decided to buy the ticket the day we went.
We arrived at Shanghai's massive Hongqiao Station and stood in line for about 20 minutes, only to find out that they don't take American credit cards, only UnionPay, a Chinese credit card. So we went and got cash, got back in line, and when we got back to the window, somehow all the trains for the morning were sold out. We ended up having to wait 4 hours for the 3pm train, which wouldn't get us to Beijing until after 8.
So we wandered the station a bit...
And finally got on our train. It was smooth and comfortable. The train traveled around 300 km/hr, which is about 188 mph. My favorite part was watching the sun set across the Chinese landscape.
The trip goes by fast and the seats are comfy. Isa and I just played games and watched some tv on the iPad Mini.
When we arrived in Beijing, we took the subway from the train station directly to the Airbnb apartment we'd booked. The location was perfect, but the apartment was ghetto. It was very shady and uncertain coming in in the dark, and when we got to the apartment, no one was there to let us in (which is understandable since we were a few hours late). Our hosts had left a note with a phone number, so I ran through the streets looking for a pay phone, only to find out that the pay phones don't take coins, only UnionPay. I returned unsuccessful, to find Isa and our bags gone.
After panicking for a quick second, I heard noises from within the apartment. Luckily, one of the other guests staying there had come home and let Isa in.
Once inside, we were able to email our hosts and let them know we had arrived. They came over to introduce themselves (apparently they live about 5 minutes away and rent out this entire apartment to tourists). Including Isa and I, there are 5 people staying in this three-bedroom apartment.
We settled in and then went out for a quick bite on a cool lantern-lit street nearby...