So this is part of the city from the viewing deck in the tower, and you can see the frozen lakes. There’s some haze/smog though which wasn’t too pleasant but I think it’s hard to avoid nowadays, we saw the same thing from the University buildings (17 floors up) in Beijing. It looks worse on clear days but at least it’s sunny.
That’s the lake that the tower is in. The glass is slanted so I was leaning over the edge to take this, which was scary and cool at the same time. My friend went under the barriers to lean against it but kept one hand on the rail just in case he fell through. Funnily enough nobody told us off or anything, they just carried on as if nothing was happening. That could have been because we both look Chinese…
Taking the bullet train there was a nice experience. The only thing was the language barrier which wasn’t too much of a problem as we just said ‘Tianjin’ showed our ID/passport and got tickets. We were all given separate seats though which led to one of us being sat in the dining carriage (and getting a late breakfast) whilst the rest were 3 carriages further down. It’s fast, really quiet and there’s a fair bit of legroom too – Virgin should take note of this! And that’s economy class!
Once in Tianjin we bought a map for about 80p which was our lifesaver. It made getting everywhere easier as we headed for ‘culture street’ which looks a bit out of place, oddly enough. It was built in the 1980’s (I think…) to promote tourism as Tianjin is just another city with giant skyscrapers everywhere. Culture street is a bit like a hutong, with this at one end so we knew we were definitely in the right place.
This is from inside the street, I’m not quite sure what it says though but it was pretty.
I’m not sure why but an escalator in the middle of an old-style cultural street was funny and a bit sad at the same time. I found it funnier than my friends did but…yeah.
There were tons of stalls there, and it was much cheaper than Beijing markets and they were much friendlier to us as well. They totally understood if we didn’t want to buy anything which was a relief. One of them was selling wooden frogs that you play to make a frog noise but we didn’t know, so the lady selling them showed us. She then let my friend try playing the biggest one so we all bought at least one. It’s one of the coolest things I bought, for £1.50. I bought lots of packs of cards too, they have anime characters, Harry Potter, even Barack Obama ones!
The only bad thing I have to say about Tianjin was the service at lunch. We didn’t expect anything glamorous or great, but they missed off part of our order – which we made sure wasn’t on the bill and just ignored us for most of the time that we were there. I’m not sure it’s because we were foreign or anything but it was disappointing.
After the interesting lunch we went to the tower, sorry for the strange order of this post. We took taxis to get there as it was on the other side of the city. The taxis are teal coloured. If you scroll up to one of the earlier pictures you can see them. The map was most useful here when I pointed at things and mumbled some incoherent Mandarin.
After the tower we got taxis back to the train station which proved to be more of a challenge than getting around in the firstplace. My taxi got there fine, I even had a quick conversation with the driver in Mandarin about our day and where we were going, but the other half of our group didn’t turn up at the station. Their taxi driver took a more ‘scenic’ route and they ended up on the other side. Buying tickets home could have been disastrous after that as we needed our UK passports and not the student ones BNU gave us. We were all sat near each other this time which was good.
The station was bigger than we initially thought as my friends had actually been dropped off at the right place to get the train back to Beijing. So we walked all the way back, passed through security and waited for our turn to board. The train station is like an airport, it’s huge and has lots of gift shops and feels very new but we were so tired by then we didn’t buy anything. We just got on the train and fell asleep for the journey back.
So that was super long, sorry but Tianjin was a great place to go to. To see the differences between there and Beijing was also incredible as they’re 30 minutes away by train but so, so different. It also gave me a chance to practise my Mandarin too!
For the ending of this post, Tianjin clock tower at sunset – it’s opposite the train station and gets lit up at night!