Here are a couple photos, the first being some of the friends we met on the train. On the left is Johanna, the coolest Fin I've ever met! On Austin's right is Sergei, who will probably win the Nobel Prize one day because he seems to be a genius. On the far right (of the picture, not the political spectrum) is our Green Party representative from Sweden, Kristin. We hung out with them pretty much from day 2 of the train until we got to Beijing. We hope to meet up with them soon. The second photo is of the ger camp we spent the day at.
We are now in Tianjin, the little-known town of 12 million next to Beijing. We are staying with my cousin Kevin, his super-smart, ultra-nice wife Elizabeth, and their 5 kids. Esther is the oldest (I believe) and she really likes to read and seems to be pretty darn smart. Joseph is the next oldest and is the sweetest kid. When we first met at the train station he immediately gave me a big hug. He couldn't quite figure out why I had red spots on my face, and after I told him about acne and all that, he said, "It's okay William, I love you just the way you are." Hannah is six years old I believe, and she is also really sweet. She's a little bit shy sometimes, but has the cutest way of talking, with words like "Pow-den" for "Pardon." Izaak, who just turned four on the 5th, is absolutely hilarious. He will talk on end about stuff that doesn't make any sense, or start sentences off with, "When I was 16..." And he will do it with the most serious face. Annaliese is only a couple months old but she seems to be deeply concerned with the world around her and maybe a little bit worried.
We spent a couple days exploring Tianjin with Kevin and went to Beijing yesterday with the whole family to see the Forbidden City. It's pretty massive. Afterwards we had some incredible Indian food at the Asian Star restaurant. The only downside to China that we see at this point is the awful air quality. My throat is hurting a little bit and Kevin tells me it probably has something to do with the smog.
Thanks for all the comments,