I had come to the village, about three hours north of Beijing in the mountains, to teach an extracurricular music class at the local middle school with some Tsinghua students. But, as often happens in China, the day became rather — peculiar —after lunch with the local party officials.
After being corralled into a small van with shovels that was actually the village firetruck (apparent only when the mayor started blaring the siren), the public security chief then took us to where the Beijing-Chengde bullet train is being constructed on the outskirts of town. We walked along a new bridge, stood on the track, chatted with workers, and gazed into the tunnel. Some engineers were on their knees, placing a final layer of plastic over the track. All by hand. I have traveled via high speed rail in China quite a bit, but it is truly something amazing to witness the realization of infrastructure dreams.