Safe and sound on the train!
After the quick Starbucks stop, we went to the train station. This was an experience I will remember forever since it was like the Forbidden City with people everywhere. As we were going to the actual train platform, I was having trouble carrying the two 52 pound bags, a carry-on suitcase and two backpacks, so I stopped to adjust. When I looked up, I didn’t see anyone else in the group. At that point I realized that I was lost in a foreign country. . .
My heart began to race, and I began to panic. As I looked around for something familiar, all I could hear were babies crying and hundreds of people passing by me speaking Mandarin. So here I am standing in the middle of our version of Grand Central station times 10, and I have no idea what I’m going to do. I begin to try to find someone to help me go in the right direction. I looked for an English-speaking person, but had no luck and I could not read any of the signs. I began to freak out, and then all of a sudden, I hear, “Francine, Francine.” I look up, and low and behold, it was one of the other chefs from California who noticed that I was missing. We gathered my stuff and began to walk. As I turn the corner, I see the rest of the group waiting for me. My eyes filled with tears of joy and couldn’t believe that within a blink of eye, I lost the group.
I thanked my lucky stars that I was traveling with such an amazing group of chefs. In this industry it is all about camaraderie and no person left behind. I’m so grateful that I was able to bond so quickly with this group, and we all take turns pulling the weight. This is how a kitchen works, and as a chef, you live by these rules in or out of the kitchen.
After we regrouped, we made it to the train, and we pushed and shoved our way onto the train. The trains have assigned seating, and I am very happy to be in the first class car. The seats are much bigger and more plush than the typical coach car. The train had more than 15 cars, and we were in car 2, so the walk was excruciating, especially for a few of the group members who had to walk down the escalator since it broke right before they got on it. After running to our assigned car, we stacked the 15 pieces of luggage in the corner. These trains only allow one 40 pound bag, and we were clearly over that limit, but thankfully, no one said a word to us. We sat down, wiped the sweat off of our brows and were thankful that we all made it on the train to Wuhan together!