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Showing posts with label Transportation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Transportation. Show all posts

Thursday, March 15, 2018

To Be Fed or Not To Be Fed on Two Wheels in Jiangmen

A moment from today on Xingning Road (兴宁路) in Jiangmen:

man and small girl riding an electric bicycle


A similar moment with an edacious contrast:

man feeding a boy a snack while they ride a motor scooter


Perhaps the girl had already finished her food.

Friday, February 16, 2018

A Rambling Travel Tale: One Way to Go From Taipei to Guangdong

The previous post may have seemed out of the blue not only because it was about trash collection but also because it featured Macau. So I will take this opportunity to share a personal travel experience that captures a few of the issues involved in traveling to the Pearl River Delta area.

After an unexpectedly long stay in Taipei, it was time to leave. I knew I wanted to head to Guangdong province but had some flexibility in how to do that. For example, I could take a cheap (less than US $60) flight from Taipei to the island of Kinmen, a ferry to Xiamen in mainland China, and then high-speed rail to Guangdong. Or I could fly directly from Taipei to Shenzhen or Guangzhou in Guangdong. The differing options had various tradeoffs regarding price and convenience. One issue was that there was no way to fly directly from Taipei to where I expected to spend the Lunar New Year holiday.

Then I discovered some cheap direct flights from Taipei to Macau — just US $80 one way. Macau borders Zhuhai, a city in Guangdong. There are no direct flights from Taipei to Zhuhai. But even if there were, the Zhuhai airport is actually farther from the most urban areas of Zhuhai than the Macau airport. The catch is that as a Special Administrative Region in the People's Republic of China, Macau has its own immigration procedures. And they take time to go through.

Overall, I felt the Macau to Zhuhai route was reasonably convenient, and the price was sweet. Oh, and the flight was on Air Macau. I could add yet another airline to my list. So, I bought the ticket.

The flight left the gate about 15 minutes early. The breakfast on the flight, some sort of chicken noodles, was surprisingly tasty. Upon arriving at the airport in Macau, I considered taking a special bus that allows you to avoid Macau immigration and head straight to one of the mainland China immigrations checkpoints on the border with Zhuhai. A policewoman saw me reading a relevant sign, though, and asked if I had a reservation. I said the website indicated that tickets for a bus to the checkpoint I wanted could only be bought at the airport. She then said the tickets must be sold out and that Chinese tour groups often buy them out. I explained the website didn't indicate they were sold out, just that you had to buy them in person. She repeated the point about Chinese tour groups.

I was tempted to check things out with the bus company myself. But given the departure of the next bus (they aren't very freqent) I thought I might make it to Zhuhai more quickly another way.

So, I went through Macau immigration, which was very fast at the airport. Then I wanted to take a convenient city bus to the border at Portas do Cerco. I had some change in both Macau patacas and Hong Kong dollars, both usable on buses in Macau, but not enough. So I exchanged some Chinese yuan knowing I would be making my way back to Macau later. Then I took a bus to Portas do Cerco where I passed through Macanese immigration once again — not as quickly as at the airport but 10 minutes is fine. The line for mainland China immigration was reasonable as well. In the end, I made it to Zhuhai quicker than I would have had I taken the more expensive bus which bypasses Macau's immigration process.

After settling in Zhuhai for a bit, I returned to Macau for a day. And later I finally made the next leg of this journey.

So here's a photo from today, the first day of the new Lunar New Year, next to the Jiangmen River in Jiangmen, Guangdong:

Man and boy sitting next to the Jiangmen River


One take home message from all of this is that when one making a long trip to this part of Guangdong, there can be a variety of options worth considering (I have other tales to share). I wouldn't have guessed that flying to Macau would be the winner in this case. But it was. And it worked just fine.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Elevated Arches in Wuhan

I'm hoping to soon return to posts with a bit more text in them. For now, here is another scene from the capital of Hubei:

Zhongbei Road, including an elevated section with many arches over it, in Wuhan
Zhongbei Road near Han Street

Friday, December 15, 2017

Candied Fruit and a Ferrari in Wuhan

man on scooter selling candied fruit next to a red Ferrari
At the intersection of Shahu Avenue (沙湖大道) and Songzhu Road (松竹路) near the Hanjie Wanda Plaza

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Views of and from Toudao Street Station in Wuhan

The Toudao Street Station on Line 1 of the Wuhan Metro is a brief walk from one end of Gudesi Road. For contrasts to the previously shared scenes from Gudesi Road and of metro trains arriving at two other stations on Line 1, here are photos of two trains departing the station:

view of Toudao Street Station (头道街站) in Wuhan with a departing metro train
View of Toudao Street Station facing northeast from a pedestrian bridge


view from Toudao Street Station (头道街站) in Wuhan of a train departing
View facing southwest from Toudao Street Station

Monday, November 20, 2017

Two Metro Trains Arriving in Wuhan

metro train arriving at Xunlimen Station in Wuhan
Arriving at Xunlimen Station


metro train arriving at Dazhi Road Station in Wuhan
Arriving at Dazhi Road Station


The first photo was taken from the metro station. The second photo was taken from a pedestrian bridge while facing towards the metro station.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Friday, November 3, 2017

Looking Down at an Intersection Near the Changsha Railway Station

Today I spent some time observing street traffic in Changsha. So instead of anything Halloween-related below are some photos taken from a pedestrian bridge spanning an intersection just north of the Changsha Railway Station.

vehicles on Chezhan North Road (车站北路) in Changsha
Chezhan North Road (车站北路)


vehicles on Bayi Road (八一路) in Changsha
Bayi Road (八一路)


Facing Chezhan North Road
Facing Chezhan North Road


Vehicles entering Yuanda 1st Road (远大一路)
Vehicles entering Yuanda 1st Road (远大一路), most from Chezhan Middle Road (车站中路)


Vehicles and a pedestrian headed toward Yuanda 1st Road
Vehicles and a pedestrian headed toward Yuanda 1st Road


In addition to roads, I also observed some of the traffic on sidewalks.

Along Chezhan Middle Road.


That's all the traffic here for today.*



*Hmm, this could be an unintended pun.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Another View of the Juzizhou Bridge in Changsha

A followup to yesterday's Halloween-themed post is taking longer than expected and won't be finished today. So I will do a different (and simpler) followup.

Recently I shared photos of Changsha's Juzizhou Bridge viewed from the east side of the Xiang River north of the bridge as the sun lowered in the sky. For a variation, here is a photo taken from the west side of the Xiang River south of the bridge as the sun was close to going behind Yuelu Mountain, which is out of view.

two men fishing and the Juzizhou Bridge in Changsha


Of note are the two men fishing on the left side of the photo, the numerous buses on the bridge, and the taller buildings on the right side, three of which stand out more flashily in a photo I took at night four years ago from the same side of the river north of the bridge. Similar to the previous photo, the trees in the far distance are all on Tangerine Island in the middle of the river. The scene is less orangish than the previous photo probably due to facing away from the sun and a clearer sky, though the air quality was still bad — hovering around the border between the Unhealthy and Very Unhealthy categories for just a 24-hour exposure. The full size of the uploaded photo is slightly larger than usual and should be viewable by clicking (or whatever it is you do) on the photo above.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Juzizhou Bridge: A Return to Changsha, Hunan

As recent posts suggest, I am now in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province. I arrived here while the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was underway. Coincidentally, I was also in Changsha five years ago during the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. At that time I experienced great difficulty using my VPN to get through the Great Firewall and access online sites blocked in China. This time I have had a far more online positive experience. I have not had any additional unusual problems since those I experienced almost three weeks ago in Zhongshan, Guangdong.

When I mentioned some of the internet challenges I faced five years ago, I shared a photo of Changsha's Juzizhou Bridge. A year later, I shared another photo of the bridge, this one from the western side of the river at night. Although a subway line below the river now matches its path, the bridge remains an important link across the Xiang River while also connecting Tangerine Island (Juzi Zhou) to both sides. Below is a fresh series of eight photos taken north of the bridge from the eastern side of the river. The colors may seem a bit off, but they are in part a result of something that hasn't changed much in Changsha since I first visited the city over 8 years ago — heavy air pollution. All of the photos include Tangerine Island, which blocks the view of the shoreline on the river's other side where the most easily visible buildings stand. In addition to people on and below the bridge, vehicles crossing the river, and ships passing by, the sun descends from one photo to the next, eventually to be partially hidden by Yuelu Mountain.

two people under Juzizhou Bridge (橘子洲大桥) in Changsha



ship and Juzizhou Bridge (橘子洲大桥) in Changsha



buses and people on Juzizhou Bridge (橘子洲大桥) in Changsha



two boats approaching Juzizhou Bridge (橘子洲大桥) in Changsha



ship approaching Juzizhou Bridge (橘子洲大桥) in Changsha



man under Juzizhou Bridge (橘子洲大桥) in Changsha



buses crossing Juzizhou Bridge (橘子洲大桥) in Changsha



sun setting behind Juzizhou Bridge (橘子洲大桥) in Changsha

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Flying Past Dragons for an Escalator Ride: The SkyCab at the Wynn Palace in Macau

The Wynn Palace casino resort opened last year in Cotai, Macau. Although the building's architecture may not impress as many people as the nearby MGM Cotai casino resort or Morpheus hotel, it visually stands out for another reason.

SkyCab in front of the Wynn Palace in Cotai, Macau


The Wynn Palace has its own mono-cable detachable gondola (MDG) system, a type of cable car, which it calls the SkyCab. Along with sharing some of the early reaction, the Gondola Project detailed the gondola's special features:
Typically cable cars can’t turn corners without a mid-station, but this system is able to make a total of 6 turns with 2 stations because it operates in an unidirectional configuration. As we’ve discussed before with the Kolmarden Wildlife gondola in Sweden, the basic rule of turning without intermediary stations is this: Cabins can only flow in one direction and all turns must be either to the left (in the event of a clockwise traffic flow) or right (in the even of a counter-clockwise traffic flow).

Aside from its unique operating characteristics, the gondola was undoubtedly designed with opulence and glitz in mind to match its environment. Two of the system’s towers were built in the form of a golden dragon while the cabins were all equipped with a custom audio system and air conditioning. Despite the advances made in ropeway technology, air conditioned cabins are still uncommon.
The SkyCab has yet another great feature:

"Complimentary Ride Into Wynn Palace" on a digital sign


And not only is the ride complimentary, but when I arrived there wasn't any line. So I quickly found myself headed towards the head of a golden dragon for free.

SkyCab Dragon


The ride was smooth and enjoyable, but I did experience one problem — the air conditioning.

air conditioning unit inside a SkyCab car


Although the air conditioner was blowing air, the cabin felt like a sauna and wasn't much better than the hot outdoors. I don't know whether or not the problem was specific to this car.

In any case, soon I was at the other station. At a nearby outdoor area, the view includes Wynn Palace's Performance Lake as well as the City of Dreams casino resort, though the Morpheus hotel is mostly hidden.

View of City of Dreams and a Macau LRT Station in front of the Wynn Palace


Also easy to spot is a station for the Macau Light Rapid Transit (LRT) next to the StarCab station. The LRT was originally expected to have opened last year. There were some slight delays, though, and now the planned opening is in 2019 for just this particular line, which doesn't reach much of the most densely populated area of Macau or the land border with mainland China. It will be a while before the SkyCab's full potential can be realized.

Finally, after reaching the SkyCab station at the edge of the main building complex, riders may be eager to discover what greets them inside. And they may be surprised when the only option other than enjoying the outdoor viewing area, which is easy to miss, is to return to ground level.

escalator from the SkyCab station at Wynn Palace

escalators to and from the SkyCab station at Wynn Palace


After the excitement of taking a gondola into a world class resort, a nondescript hallway and unremarkable long escalator ride can be a buzzkill and feel inconsistent with the resort's claim that the "SkyCab delivers you into the heart of Wynn Palace". Other possibilities could have been an upper level shopping / entertainment area as found in some other nearby casino resorts or the gondola returning the ground the level, perhaps to an internal courtyard. The possibilities are seemingly endless for a resort with many resources at its disposal. The gondola clearly wasn't built for purely pragmatic reasons and is intended to impress, yet it ends (or begins) on such a relatively mundane note.

So you could say the experience left me hanging and feeling it could have been much more. Still, I can say SkyCab is now my favorite free gondola ride with dragons.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Another Look at the Guangzhou South Railway Station

I have shared photos of the Guangzhou South Railway Station a couple of times before: once over five years ago when I traveled from Guangzhou to Zhuhai (and then soon onto Macau) and another time about four years ago when I traveled from Zhuhai to Changsha, with a a change of trains in Guangzhou.

I have been in the station a number of times since then, including today. So here are two photos offering not only a more recent look at the station but also different viewpoints from the earlier photos.

Guangzhou South Railway Station departure hall


Guangzhou South Railway Station departure hall

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Stars & Stripes on a Boy and Motor Scooters in Bengbu, China

Today at a pedestrian street in Bengbu, Anhui province, I briefly met a little boy wearing clothing with a red, white, and blue stars & stripes design.

little boy wearing clothing with a red, white, and blue stars & stripes design


Nearby, I saw a familiar stars & stripes design style on a motor scooter.

motor scooter with US flag design in Bengbu, China


A very short walk away from there, I saw another type of stars & stripes design I have also seen before in China.

motor scooter with "Go With Me" US flag design in Bengbu

"Go With Me" US flag design on front of motor scooter


And across the river, I saw yet another red, white, and blue design.

motor scooter with red, blue, and white stars


All of this happened to come across my path in a span of less than 90 minutes. I saw more related designs later in the day and none of them struck me as out of the ordinary. The designs raise questions about American influence, or soft power, in China. In the next post, I will share a disturbing example of how that influence may be having an impact in an unfortunate way.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Bit of Bengbu on the Fourth of July

Two days ago in Bengbu, a city in China's Anhui province, I spent the evening trying to celebrate the Fourth of July. Like a big part of my reasoning for choosing to visit Bengbu — appreciating the sound of its name — I saw it as a way to mix things up and learn things I may not have otherwise learned about China. I don't have as much of a story to tell about the night as I did a few years ago for a Fourth of July in Hengyang, Hunan. And while I did find much of interest, it would make more sense to share most of it in other contexts. Still, I have a bit of story . . .

The night started more fittingly than I could have ever reasonably expected. Seconds after heading out, I saw a Stars & Stripes themed motor scooter driving off.

American flag themed motor scooter in Bengbu


While I have seen scooters with an American flag design in China on occasion before, including one other in Bengbu, the timing here was wonderful. This really happened.

Later in the evening, I saw a scooter with a design seemingly inspired by a country who played a large role in making the Fourth of July happen.

British flag themed motor scooter in Bengbu


I see these British-looking designs on motor scooter far more often, so this was less of surprise.

After several nighttime snacks including two local items and one Big Mac, I stopped by a small convenience store to buy a celebratory drink. A Bengbu brand of baijiu struck me as a grand idea, and I jokingly asked a young girl who was eager to help whether she liked it or not. With body language playfully suggesting she wasn't exactly telling the truth, she said she did. Her mother (I presume) and I laughed. Good enough.

girl holding bottle of 皖酒王


So for 15 yuan (about U.S. $2.20) I bought a bottle of Bengbu Baijiu — not its name based on the Chinese (皖酒王), which more emphasizes its Anhui roots, but I like how it rolls of the tongue.

During a discussion with the taxi driver as I headed back to my hotel, I wasn't surprised to learn she didn't know July 4 had any significance in the U.S. But I was a bit surprised when she said she liked drinking this brand of baijiu. And I gotta say, as far a cheap baijiu goes I found it to be pretty decent. I didn't finish it though. I had more explorations planned for the Fifth of July.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Baidu Map, a Banana, and Baijiu: From Guiyang to Changsha

Not so long ago in Guiyang, I woke up early one morning and caught a taxi. At the first intersection, the driver took an unexpected turn. Based on the traffic signals, it seemed plausible it was a wise choice, and I said nothing. A couple of blocks later, he signaled to make a turn heading in a direction nearly opposite of where I was headed. It didn't seem likely this choice was in my best interest, so I asked why he wasn't turning a different direction on another road. After some back and forth, I mentioned I had checked the routes on Baidu Map. The best option was rather clear and the most reasonable alternatives didn't involve what he had in mind.

He said "Oh, you checked Baidu Map. Then we will go that way."

It worked out pretty well.

Once I was inside the departure hall of the Guiyang North Railway Station, I wasn't surprised by the small crowd. I was catching an early morning train at 6:52 a.m. after all.

quiet departure hall at the Guiyang North Railway Station

Guiyang North Railway Station departure hall

But I found it notable that the retail space on the upper levels on two sides of the departure hall, a design common in China's larger new railway stations, appeared to be completely vacant and lacking any restaurants or cafes. There wasn't even a Texas Burger. It reminded me of a similar pattern I saw five years ago at the Shenzhen North Railway Station — a place that is more occupied and busier now.

Soon I was on the high-speed train, which departed on schedule. Like my previous two trips, I was traveling a route for the first time. This route spent less time in tunnels than my previous trip though. And the train traveled at a much higher speed (about 300 km/h) than on the previous two routes (which maxed out at about 200 km/h).

A college student sitting next to me on the train kindly offered a welcomed banana, providing some balance to having had a mangosteen stolen in Guiyang. After discovering I liked spicy foods, she then gave me two small packages of spicy treats. One of them was especially tasty, and I was confident I was not going to go short on my salt intake for the day.

When I later mentioned I was catching a flight out of the Changsha the very next day, she asked whether I couldn't have flown out of Guiyang instead. Indeed, I would have done that had I better predicted things when I purchased the ticket. My schedule during the past month or so hadn't gone exactly as first planned. I spent more time than expected in Hengyang, which meant I had to skip Yongzhou. I then spent more time than expected in Guilin, which meant I had to skip Liuzhou and some other potential locations. I had just spent more time than expected in Guiyang, which meant I had to skip Kaili and Huaihua. In short, I wasn't arriving in Changsha a few days before my flight from a closer city as I had first expected. All of this reflects a tension between spending more time in individual cities versus visiting more cities. Both have their merits.

So after a three hour and twenty-something minute train ride, I had about 24 hours in Changsha. I initially thought I would put together a "day in Changsha" post similar to the one when I was last in Changsha, which also involved a one day stay followed by a flight. But that visit had occurred less than half a year after an earlier visit to Changsha, when I spent much more time there. A quick catchup here made sense. But this visit involved a one and half year gap from the previous one day visit and a nearly two year gap since my last extended stay. Not only was there much more which had changed, I more effectively maxed out my time. By the end of the day I wasn't just exhausted, I felt like all of what I had found deserved more than being put together in a single post.

So instead of a new "day in Changsha" post, for now I will share a single scene from Huangxing Square in Changsha which reminded me of scenes I have shared from Guangzhou and from Shenyang.

Mengzhilan M6, Oppo, and Huawei advertisements displayed at Huaxing Square in Changsha

Yes, on the digital billboard is yet another blissfully blue baijiu advertisement from Yanghe Distillery. But instead of featuring their Tianzhilan baijiu, it features their Mengzhilan M6. which according to Yanghe:
. . . inherits the element of the ancient Yanghe Liquor, and transforms itself gracefully in the new historical period by perfectly interpreting the definition of the treasured Liquor with pure and exquisite technology.
How about that?

Anyway, more soon. I will be in less of a exploratory mode during the next few weeks, so I hope to get slightly caught up on some things. Just need to decide what is next. Perhaps more about Changsha. Perhaps where I headed after Changsha. Perhaps where I was before. Perhaps some other new historical period.