Slowly pulling away from the railway platform there is a real sense of embarking on an epic journey. The train picked up speed as we left the city limits of Shanghai. Not before too long we were in the Chinese countryside.
The sky was filled with a yellow-brown haze. The air quality meter jumped into the mid 200's and only went up. Trees, buildings, mountains, cars were shrouded in thick fog. Everything appeared flat and colorless. As we passed through industrial towns, monolithic apartment buildings stood vacant and empty.