Location: Baotou

This morning we gathered in the hotel lobby at 7:30 with bags packed and ready for breakfast. We were given the opportunity to find our own food on the streets of Baotou, where some students bought Jianbing, and others pastries. We then ate our bounty at the apartment and left for a morning of service at 9. For lunch, Grace and Micka made Italian food, featuring “fire garlic bread” and “Kristine’s first ever piece of spiral pasta.” Everyone was so happy to have comfort food that reminded them of home (except for Ryan who chose to eat Chinese food), that said, we all probably ate a little too much. Following lunch, we needed to do meal-prep for dinner because we would be eating on the train. The staff set up a sandwich bar, but I’m pretty sure the only person that utilized it was Evan. He also ate Chinese food too somehow.

Meanwhile, everybody else went to our favorite fast-food-noodle-place to order to-go while the rest of the students went to convenience stores to purchase cup noodles and other snacks. We didn’t have to leave for the train until 2:45 so we made lots of friendship bracelets. Ella taught me how to make a chevron one; Grace made matching ones for everyone, and Ryan made a scary looking swamp one but improved his technique with some practice. We left for the train station and went through security as usual, but once inside, however, we were swamped with photos and weird looks. A small family asked me for a photo which I happily accepted because they had a cute baby. On the train, our compartment was really full, but somehow we still managed to switch and squish into seats to play card games and hang out with each other. We passed the Chinese countryside filled with swamps and donkeys. I’m sure the whole car was not happy with our loud laughter and butchered Chinese, but somehow we made it to Datong with no issues. Arriving at night was really cool because we always get off the train in the morning, so to see the city alive with lights was a new experience for us. We then boarded a non-tan-van to the Jinjiang Inn where we settled in for the evening where we all fall asleep super early.