SHANGHAI - The only thing faster than the evening high speed train from Beijing to Shanghai on Thursday was Gov. Jerry Brown's peppiness to get things going back home on the train project and, well, everything else.
"When I get back, it's just going to be one building after another," said Brown, punching the air with his fist for emphasis.
The governor spent the first part of the five hour, 800-plus mile trek on the China bullet train walking the aisles and chatting up many of the Chinese guests who were joining him. He also spent some time talking to the three of us in the press corps who are accompanying him on the eight day trade and investment trip.
Brown, who met for 45 minutes with China's Premier Li Keqiang before boarding the train, kept remarking en route how much the Chinese have done since his only other visit to the country in 1986.
"We sit around and mope. And process. And navel gaze," said the governor about the political environment back home. "And the rest of the world is moving at mach speed. So when we go back, we'll emulate some of that."
The governor and the chair of the state's high speed rail authority, Dan Richard, both talked about the possibility of Chinese investment in California's $68 billion train project -- scheduled to break ground in the Central Valley this summer, but still short of commitments of cash to build anything but a short, initial leg.
Brown said there may be Chinese investors to also help finance his plan to build twin underground water tunnels around, and under, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
"We need stuff," he told reporters while straddling the aisle in the train. "We've got to build."
But when I asked the governor about those who say his think-big-but-not-on-budget-programs style seems hard to reconcile, Brown quickly rebutted the idea by saying it's unfair to judge infrastructure projects as anything but a "long term expense."
And in a small preview of the state budget debate to come when he unveils his revised spending plan next month, the governor said he's asked staff to crunch numbers that will show California -- even with its social services cuts -- remains more generous than other states.
"How much does the taxpayer have to contribute to those who are less fortunate?" he asked. "There's a balance."
And then, gesturing to the video camera I was holding, he seemed to lay down a budget marker to his fellow Democrats in the Legislature.
"I will hold the line this year," said Brown. "That you can put in your camera, and file it away."