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Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Ghost Town and Shocking Experiences at the Shenzhen North Train Station

It has been quite a day, so a lighter post...

Today began pleasantly enough around 6am with a jog along the water at Hong Kong's Quarry Bay Park. Ah, if only I had kept running. But I had plans to take a trip to another city and running would not have been a practical way to get there. So today I partook in long subway rides in three different cities and threw in a high speed rail trip and a double-decker bus ride for extra spice. You might be thinking that means I must have been determined to reach my destination. Well, it turns out things did not go as planned, and I now find myself in a place I had no plans to visit. But at least it is a place with good food.

Instead of explaining why I spent more time on subways today than I ever intended, I will share one "special" part of today. I had the luck to spend a couple unplanned hours at the Shenzhen North Train Station:

Inside the Shenzhen North Train Station

The above photo was taken from the non-busy end of the station. Most (all?) of today's trains were unfortunately (for me) full, but the station appears to have the capacity to serve many more passengers. It was clear more trains (or more train cars) would have be useful today for the many travelers getting an early start to China's National Day "Golden Week" holiday.

The second level of the station particularly caught my eye. According to an article on The Nanfang, there used to be many more restaurants at the station. Although Kung Fu and KFC looked to be in fine working order, McDonald's, Yoshinora, Ajisen Ramen, and some others did not appear to be operating anymore. So I pondered the meaning behind this fast-food ghost town. At least it was bathed in natural light.

The most entertaining part of the station for me, though, was the security. As usual, I saw security using handheld metal-detecting wands. And as is not unusual for what I have seen at train stations in China, even when the wands beeped a warning, people were allowed to pass through without being checked further. (secret: After becoming suspicious, I once asked security at a hotel in Shanghai if their wand was functional. They admitted it wasn't.)

So to liven things up a bit, when a young woman checked me with the wand I pretended to receive an electric shock. I did not expect my admittedly unoriginal act to be at all convincing, but her unexpected scream suggested otherwise. Fortunately, she was more concerned about composing herself and continuing her conversation with her coworkers than exacting any retribution for my nonsense.

The best part of security involved the man operating one of the x-ray scanners. Impressively, he was actually viewing the screen. But I was not excited to see him eying one of my bags (full of harmless electronic goodies) rather suspiciously, and I was quite sure he wanted to search it. But then he saw me and asked if it was my bag. After I said "Yes", a smile spread across his face. He said since it was mine there was no need for him to check it. Then he chuckled a bit. I wondered if he had appreciated my earlier act. Or maybe it was something else. There seems to be much to ponder here.

Anyways, I did manage to catch a train out of the station, even if my choice of destination was improvised. Now I look forward to a good night's sleep. I am not exactly sure what I will be doing this weekend, but I think I will take a break from extensive subway riding.

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