Forgot to mention that in the end, the plane ticket prices listed were "fake", so we opted to train ride it in the end anyhow.
I did however have the insight that if Q was keen to splurge on a 5 star hotel, that it'd be worth the extra rmb to bump up to soft sleeper trains, which are 4 peeps to a cabin. Pretty cozy and nice, imo.
We had a quiet NYE on a train full of sleeping people.
Then a nice few days exploring Dalian despite some of the coldest weather i've dealt w/ in China. 6 layers? Not enough.
Q wanted to talk to this old guy who was about to spend the night on the sidewalk. "Can't you go home?" she asked, which i thought was very sweet, though it didn't yield any surprising results. We gave him a bit of money, and i gave him my hat. But seriously: if he really spent the night there, i suspect it was his last. Again, not so surprisingly, he seemed to be mentally ill.
Hey, it sucks to be homeless and freezing in Canada, but at least there's some sort of support systems to try and keep people from freezing to death on the streets. In China, i don't know what if any sort of systems exist.
So anyhow, we didn't take a plane.