At 3:45 today we were given a task. We needed to go to the train station in downtown Chengdu, ask a series of questions, and return in time for dinner at 6:00. Unfortunately, my host family had no idea about this challenge and we ran into some problems.
On the way downtown we got off at the wrong stop and had to ask for directions to the train station. We were helped by some people and we got on the 27 bus. This bus was interesting. For some reason (Aron, this is your area of expertise) the bus would die whenever it stopped at a traffic light. He was, however, able to get it started again and again. Until the time that he didn't. We watched as half of the people on the bus poured out and the other half stayed. We were confused. The natives were leaving...or were they? Suddenly, just as we were realizing that there were no men on the bus, the bus slowly started to move. It was as if billions of ants were lifting the bus and moving it along. They were pushing. And so I got out and pushed too and we started that bus! Crisis averted.
Shortly after we arrived at the train station (finally!). We entered and saw about 25 LONG lines of people at ticket windows. Our homework was not to buy a ticket (becase we don't have our site placements yet), but to ask several questions, such as:
How much is a ticket to Sanzhihua (or Guiyang)?
How much is a hard sleeper top (middle or bottom) bunk?
How long does it take to get there?
How many trains leave each day?
We accomplished this, much to the frustration of the information attendant, who fielded question after question which was THE SAME. She must have been thinking, "If these idiots just talked to each other they would get their information in a fraction of the time!" But, of course, the idea was not to talk with one another, but to practice speaking.
After this we began the trek home. We waited for bus 27 and rode this for about an hour. When we got off the bus there was frantic questioning of locals about how to get back to the university. These little discussions lasted about 15 minutes and we finally found the 336 back to the university. I arrived at my house around 8:15. It took a mere 4 1/2 hours for this field trip, which provided some valuable experience.