An early start with a wake up call at 5:30 gets us to breakfast and on the bus at 7. WE arrived at the train station where the new recruits will experience the pace of picking up the bullet train and being ready to board as soon as it stops and loading all 61 of us with baggage and equipment in less than 2 minutes. No small task!
A decision to keep all the large bags and equipment together is made leaving musicians only to deal with their carry-ons of modest size. A “team of luggage-hands” –younger strongmen and Lauren (!) to wrestle with her tuba case are recruited. Bullets do not wait so the mission is clear. Get everything on and leave no one behind! As we stand and wait on the platform, one shoots by on the other side and as all turned to look, it sped by hardly making a sound. Whoooosssh!
Mr. Lu gave us the head’s up that we were to board car #1 on the left side of the platform. Now a few minutes before it arrives, we hear that the train will be on the right side of the tracks instead. The team of designated luggage-hands, quickly shift all of the red tied bags to the other side. We were glad that Julie Tumma-violinist and orchestra “doctor”-remembered a great tip from her early collegiate concert days and thought to bring thick heavy red yarn providing us all with enough to tag all our bags with a “red badge” so to speak. Who knew it would match our lovely red scarves that have now become part of our concert apparel!
The train stops and as people pour out, we are directed to car #3 instead of #1. But with this predicament posed, the luggage is masterfully and hastily piled/ stashed / shoved into car #1 –just in the nick of time, while all orchestra members manage to board as well. The luggage is trundled through the aisles to car #3 where it resided until we disembark more than 5 hours later. We note the speed climb to 199 kilometers as we all settle in and get cozy for a high-speed trek. We find out this is not the fastest bullet—that will take us to Beijing and travel at 299 kilometers!
When we arrive in Fuzhou we can already tell it is much warmer-upper 60’s. We have seen the scenery change to more green with more tropical trees appointed though out the landscape. We manage to disembark the train even though our stacked luggage was blocking the exit—another piece of misinformation. Wrong side! We survived. Everyone off and every bag claimed! It’s 1;25 and as our bullet train speeds off to points south we tackle the task of locating each of our bags and finding a way out.
The long stairwells exiting the station were complimented by a very long walk to our busses, which were parked beyond a chained off driveway–just another obstacle at this point.-we seem to manage them well! They have been parked in the sun for awhile, and are pretty steamy as we board. They have smaller luggage space below, so a lot of our bags are now stored in the aisles until we check in at the Noah’s Ark Golden Guangda Hotel.
We walked to the concert hall a few blocks away.