TianJin to BeiJing: Rest in transit

Today a novum: I publish all images that I made throughout the day: A stunning total of 7 (seven, sieben, 七) pictures! I was somehow in slow-motion mode, wanted to leave TianJin, but didn’t want more than finding a Starbucks in BeiJing. So-to-say a rest-in-transit day:

BJ_20070612_233728.jpg: My hotel in TianJin was the “Railway station” branch. You would expect the railway station (or at least one railway station) being next to it. But already on the way to the hotel yesterday I learned that there are multiple railway stations in TianJin. And today I learned that the next-door railway station had “disappeared” as the hotel clerk put it. Likely up for refurbishment, too, like 80% of TianJin. I had to go back to the station I arrived at by bus yesterday. I did so by taxi, fairly easily got a train ticket to BeiJing for just 42 RMB.

TJ_20070612_114955.jpg: Had to wait a bit under an hour in this waiting hall, which was not well air-conditioned and hence very hot. Must be a provisorial installation…all around that station was actually fairly temporary, that’s why I guess the original main staion will “reappear” sooner or later.

TJ_20070612_122829.jpg: The train turned out to be one of these brand-new “bullet-trains” as they are translated officially. They are said to go as fast as 200km/h, and there was a hostess going about the aisles to double-check that the luggage on the overhead compartments was well stowed. Hey, sorry…we go 350km/h in Germany and don’t need a double-check on luggage storage… The train was super-modern, cool turnable seats (at the end of the journey a man goes through and turns all seats by 180 degree, so they face again the direction of movement) and highly air-conditioned, nearly a bit chilly. Although I took out my book I dozed away. I don’t think we reached anything faster than 120km/h, but anyway reached BeiJing in a bit over an hour.

BJ_20070612_140042.jpg: BeiJing Station, the main train station. At least once I ended up at the place I thought I would end up… 😉 which was in so far beneficial as BeiJing Main Station has subway connection on the circle line. I assume the station’s renovation for the Olympics is done. The good thing: They somehow managed to keep the taxis outside, so that there was no hassle turning down thousands of taxi drivers (like in TianJin…a complete mess at the moment) before reaching the subway entry.

The subway did not look much different from our first visit in 2004, though I had hoped they would renovate it a bit for the Olympics. Nonetheless, I had one good thought and wanted to ask for an electronic transportation card. All other cities I visited (QingDao, YanTai, DaLian, TianJin) had an electronic debit card system like in Shanghai, so that you don’t need to have enough change in your pocket to pay for bus or (if existent, and TianJin now has one line) subway. Just load the card and hold it in front of respective card readers. Every city, however, had a different system. So you would need to “rent” a card in every city for a deposit, which I certainly did not do. But in BeiJing I assume I will stay a few more days and will use the subway quite frequently. So I hoped they would have at least introduced such an electronic card. In 2004 you had to buy each and every subway ticket individually from ticket counters. There weren’t even vendor machines.

Today, there are vendor machines, and there is an electronic card. While still reading the all Chinese transportation information (on this they absolutely still have to work: most directions are bi-lingual by now, but not essential tariff information!) a Chinese man asked in perfect English if I would need help. Well, I said, I know were to go, but I am wondering if I can get an electronic transportation card. He turned out to be non-BeiJing, too, cool that he helped me, apparently knowing the feeling of being stranger. But didn’t know if there was such a card. But he asked for me, which made getting the card a lot simpler. He was gone before I could even thank him…at least I have a card now (BeiJing Municipial Administration Transportation Card, BeiJing ShiZheng JiaoTong YiKaTong, 北京市政交通一卡通). 20 RMB deposit. Turns out that with this card you pay a standard flat rate of 3 RMB whenever you enter a subway station. With individual tickets you would have prices of 3, 4, and 5 RMB depending on the distance. But, hey…nobody checks the tickets when leaving a station anyway…

BJ_20070612_143030.jpg: “There are nine million bicycles in BeiJing…” but as long as they are locked up they can’t hurt you 😉 I had asked my TianJin hotel to reserve me a room in a BeiJing branch of the same JinJiang chain. I really like that chain…clinically clean, reliable re-appearing interieur, friendly service, free wired internet LAN access, unbeatably cheap prices: My single room in BeiJing, in 3-minute-walking distance to ChangChunJie (长椿街) subway station on the Circle Line 1, is just 189 RMB per night! And you’ll find these bikes between the subway station and the hotel. I took a shower, washed some clothes, and headed out with no immediate destination…just wanted to have a coffee.

BJ_20070612_164711.jpg: TianAnMen Square (天安门广场) happened to be on the way and as we had left it out on our first visit I now did a stop-over there. Despite the sun still being high it couldn’t get through all the smog (the weird brown-yellowish sky you see on the pictures is as taken by my camera…no changes to the pic). Here ZhengYangMen (正阳门) on the square’s southern tip.

BJ_20070612_164755.jpg: Chairman Mao is being renovated…at least his mausoleum. Damn…construction everywhere. I had planned to pay him a visit this time, but not possible before September this year. Also on the actual TianAnMen Square there was some political stuff going on and no access for visitors today. How disappointing…I headed off in search for a Starbucks. At least the one store I knew was still where it was supposed to be and was operational…

There I found a copy of the “City Weekend” magazine with lots of restaurant and other information with interesting offerings for hiking trips on the weekend. Well, that sounds like a cool option! I’ll gonna check that out. As I also was in bad need for a better city map than what my hotel had offered me I visited the Friendship Store (an act you usually would like to suppress due to this store being full under the roof with all the souvenir kitsch I always wondered who actually buys that…), where I was not treated friendly upon inquiry (despite nobody having anything to do except for cutting finger nails), but finally found a map myself and a copy of my favorite german weekly, Die Zeit. From “City Weekend” I had learned about a Vietnamese place nearby, but its food wasn’t as convincing as it had sounded in the magazine. Naja, I was no longer hungry…hey…and there was another Starbucks! Great 😉 could start reading Die Zeit. What a relaxing day….

Today’s Lesson: Take a rest, more often than not.

Categories: AsiaBeiJing

Originally Created: 06/12/2007 04:22:33 PM
Last Edited: 06/12/2007