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

Friday, September 13, 2019

Needing Sleep: Four (or Five) Chinese Cities in Two Days

Early Tuesday morning I was surprised when my phone's alarm woke me up at 5:10 a.m. It was supposed to wake me up a 5:00 a.m. Presumably I had slept through the first round of the alarm, and it had tried again.

Those 10 minutes mattered a lot. So I ended up taking a taxi to the Nanning East Railway Station instead of the subway. The taxi cost less than expected, just 35 yuan (a little less than U.S. $5 at the moment), and I arrived at the station with just enough time to pick up a sausage mcmuffin with egg for breakfast.

After about three hours on a high-speed train, I arrived at the Guangzhou South Railway Station.

Guangzhou South Railway Station departure hall


Less than 15 minutes later I boarded another high-speed train, and in little more than an hour I arrived in Zhuhai. Not long after checking into my hotel there, I crossed the border to Macau by foot. Soon I was at favorite cafe for a grilled onion pork chop bun where I noticed a Hong Kong channel was broadcasting a police news conference.

Hong Kong police news conference on TV at a Macau cafe


The sound was off but text on the screen indicated it was about the responsibilities of off duty Hong Kong police. Presumably this was in response to the protest-related news which broke the day before about the issuing of extendable batons to off duty police.

Later in the day, I spotted an animal that taxonomically baffled me for a very brief moment. But then I realized it was just your everyday Macanese duck-dog.

dog wearing a duck bill muzzle


Honestly, the animal attracted my attention to such a degree at the time I didn't even notice the "Do not sit on the staircase to avoid blocking" sign above the sitting-on-the-step woman until now. This raises the question of why, presumably, people like to sit there. Could it be related to the duck-dog?

As this animal experience suggests, as usual I enjoyed my time in Macau. I would've happily stayed longer, but that evening I had to cross the border back to Zhuhai.

young man wearing an "Obey Obey Obey" shirt


After a successful crossing where I learned a key fact from an immigration officer, I was at my favorite place for post-midnight razor clams.

yummy razor clams


I didn't sleep much that night. Actually, I'm not sure I really slept at all. In any case, at 5:30 a.m. I boarded a shared van to Zhuhai's airport.

Soon after arrival, I noticed my plane was already at its gate. So that was nice.

China Southern Airlines airplane at gate at Zhuhai Airport


Since I had plenty of time to spare, I ordered a grilled cheese & ham sandwich at a popular Hong Kong chain restaurant.

grilled ham & cheese sandwich cut unusually (for the US)

I'm not clear why they cut the sandwich that way. I probably shouldn't, but I'm still pondering it.


Anyway, soon I was in the sky and presented with an airplane snack.


Not so thrilling flight snack

The steamed bun on the far left was stuffed with some sort of meat-like substance. I will just say I have eaten many, many different types of steamed buns in China, and this one may have been the worst. But at least the turtle shell herbal jelly was decent enough, though I wondered whether it actually had any turtle shell in it.

Whatever the case, the flight was otherwise uneventful, which I mostly count as a very good thing.

After about 2 hours in the air, I found myself much farther north in China than I have been in nearly two years. Yet incredibly I am still in what they call the south.

So I would say in two days I was in four cities, though if you want to count Guangzhou (I wouldn't) you could say five. I need to sleep now. A lot. Once that happens, at some point I hope to mention the fourth (or fifth) city.

Monday, August 5, 2019

A Token Story from Nanning

Today in Nanning a family exited a train at a stop near the western end of the Line 1 metro. One of them, a young girl, paused just before exiting and turned around. For a brief moment she looked conflicted. Her grandmother (I presume), also still on the train, seemed to recognize the issue and hollered something in a local dialect. She and the girl then quickly exited the train just before the doors closed.

The family remained together.

Two of their subway tokens did not remain with them though.

two tokens left on a subway train bench in Nanning


I wondered if the girl could have retrieved the tokens in time if she had acted immediately. I also wondered what they would now do without them. I'm not sure about the former. It would have been close, but I think she had a shot. Still, a risk. Regarding the latter, my first guess was they would have their two kids duck under the turnstiles to exit the station and hope nothing came of it. Or they could just report the problem before exiting and hope for the best.

I left the tokens where they sat. They probably couldn't serve much use now, but at least they had each other.

Friday, June 28, 2019

The Yunlong Bridge on a Sunny Day in Yulin

I had planned to post more context by now for a story I will tell, but I have been derailed. To get back on the rails, here is a photo of Yunlong Bridge (云龙桥) on the hot and sunny afternoon I observed Yulin's Lychee and Dog Meat festival not far away.

Person holding umbrella while riding a motor scooter on Yunlong Bridge (云龙桥) in Yulin


More later of course . . .

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Almost Injured by a Motor Scooter While Being Closely Watched in Yulin

man riding a motorcycle the wrong direction on a road


I took the above photo of the crosswalk in Yulin because something unexpected happened to me there. As I attempted to cross it a woman riding a motor scooter passed so closely in front of me that our bodies touched. I didn't see her coming because she was driving the wrong direction on a portion of road used for making right turns at an intersection. She presumably saw me, though, unless she had taken things to another level by driving the wrong direction on a road and not looking forward. After I took two photos of the crosswalk following the incident, a man riding a motorcycle in the above photo kindly provided me an opportunity to capture a moment of somebody doing something similar to what the woman had done. Fortunately, he didn't feel inspired to include the almost-injure-somebody part.

Incredibly, something even more unexpected was happening to me during the close encounter, yet I didn't know it at the time. I was being followed by at least one person wearing plain clothes. Noticing something curious later caused me to become suspicious. Actions I then took confirmed my concern. And later experiences confirmed my belief this was not just some random person who was innocently curious about the rare foreigner they happened to notice.

Instead, the reason the person was following me was clearly tied to my observations that afternoon of the first day of the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival in Yulin. I had had interactions, also unexpected, with relevant authorities and what I suspect were relevant unofficial authorities. More followed that day.

So, this touches on why I didn't post anything here on the first day of the festival. It also touches on why there was no post yesterday when I spent eight hours on the first relevant bus. Needless to say, I'm not in Yulin anymore.

Also, needless to say, I have a story to tell.

Now, I wonder what my follower(s) thought when I was nearly hit. I'm not even sure if a more unfortunate event had occurred whether it would've simplified or complicated matters for them.

More later.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Billside Rivierh Mini-Mini Jumbo Wuzhou Bus in Hedong

I had intended that a post about a Jumbo Wuzhou Bus parking area with art above it would be the last on the Jumbo Wuzhou Bus theme. But then I had an opportunity to ride the mallest Jumbo Wuzhou Bus. I did. And that post was supposed to be the real end of it all.

Really.

You know where this is going . . . Yes, this will be another Jumbo Wuzhou Bus post. The reason? Well, I saw a remarkable mini-mini Jumbo Wuzhou Bus tonight.

mini-mini Jumbo Wuzhou Bus at night in Hedong


Two things made this bus grand enough to notice and to share. One, I saw it in the area locals would call Hedong (河东). I hadn't seen one there before. Two, before I had only seen larger Jumbo Wuzhou Buses with advertising. This was the first commercialized mini-mini I had seen.

The ad is for the "Billside Rivierh". I'm guessing they were aiming for the "Hillside Riviera", but I can't say for sure. What I can say for sure is that this ends the Jumbo Wuzhou Bus theme.

OK, I'm not totally sure.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Kicked Off a Mini-Mini Jumbo Wuzhou Bus in Guangxi

Today while I was near a small bus stop in Wuzhou, a mini-mini Jumbo Wuzhou Bus stopped to drop off and pick up passengers.

I didn't know where the bus was headed.

I had other things to do.

But I also had never ridden a mini-mini Jumbo Wuzhou Bus before, and this might be my last opportunity.

I carefully weighed my options for a second or two.

I boarded the bus.

As typical for the smaller buses, the ride cost 1 yuan (about U.S. 15 cents). At the beginning I found it difficult to keep track of my location since I didn't have a clear view while I stood in the packed bus. Later when it was less crowded I had a seat in the back. The ride was mostly uneventful. Some people chatted in Cantonese. Some people looked out the windows. Some people checked their mobile phones. There were no accidents.

So despite previously saying the Jumbo Wuzhou Bus theme was finished, here's another post about them. I suspect some readers might not be thrilled about another bus post yet are now thinking, "Wait, I want to know about the 'kicked off' part mentioned in the title."

OK, it isn't as dramatic as it sounds.

While I was busy looking at a few photos I had taken, the bus stopped. This was not unusual. Buses are supposed to do this from time to time. Then many people got off the bus. This was not so unusual either. Then I noticed that the bus driver was turned around and looking at me.

Something seemed off now.

The bus driver said we were at the last stop. Normally this wouldn't confuse me, but I saw two other passengers still sitting on the bus. Some bus routes in Wuzhou make a circle or loop. So I guessed that this last stop was really just part of a journey that could take me to other locations. Maybe one of them would strike me as particularly interesting and serve to further justify spending an extra yuan today.

So after looking at the other passengers to confirm their existence, I said I would stay on as well.

The bus driver then explained that I was welcome to take the bus again, but I would need to re-board at the stop across the street. Indeed, there was a stop across the street.

But what about the other two people? Why weren't they getting off? Was I missing an adventure?

Trying to help, one of the passengers asked me where I wanted to go. This was one of those situations where I suspected an honest answer was only going to confuse matters more. So I refrained from saying, "I don't know."

Trying to sort things out, I then returned the favor and asked where he was going on this bus that had supposedly already reached its last stop. But the bus driver interrupted his reply and repeated that we were at the last stop. She looked like she really wanted this all to end.

I looked at the passenger who hadn't said anything at all. She looked like she really wanted to have nothing to do with any of this.

I now felt like I had brought enough disharmony to this tiny bus and its inhabitants, so I got off. And then of course I photographed the bus.

mini-mini Jumbo Wuzhou Bus with two passengers
At least one of the passengers was smiling


After the bus drove away from its last stop with two passengers still on board, I looked at the bus stop sign wondering where I was.



The sign immediately cleared up several issues. One, this stop was not only the last for the bus I had just ridden but for several other routes as well. Two, not only did I now know my location, but I was quite familiar with it. About 10-20 meters away was the Jumbo Wuzhou Bus parking area with art above it. And finally, three, I now had a possible answer to why the two passengers stayed on board. Possibly the parking lot was a little bit closer to wherever they were going.

Confident that the bus I had just ridden would be at the parking lot, I walked over to take another photo to better record whether it was as rusty as others I had seen.

As I took a couple of photos, a woman came out of a small office and appeared quite concerned. She asked me why I was photographing the bus. Once more, I wasn't sure the first answer that came to mind was going to help matters. So I said something else that was true, "I like Jumbo Wuzhou Buses!"

On later reflection, I believe I said the first half of my answer in Chinese and the second half mostly in English. Whatever the case, I doubt the woman felt like my answer had clarified much for her.

Anyway, for posterity, rust, and all that, here is a photo I took because I like Jumbo Wuzhou Buses:

rear of a mini-mini Jumbo Wuzhou Bus


There's some rust for sure, but it doesn't look like anything is going to fall off today.

I knew there was another bus which departed from there which stopped at the place that had been my intended destination before taking yet another random bus ride. But I wondered if I had attracted a bit too much attention at the parking area. So I walked away . . .

. . . pleased that I had finally ridden a mini-mini Jumbo Wuzhou Bus.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Art Above the Jumbo Wuzhou Buses

Near the Zaochong Neighborhood Bus Stop (枣冲小区站), the end of several bus routes in Wuzhou, is a place were Jumbo Wuzhou Buses can park and refuel that has an extra touch of art.

bus parking near the Zaochong Neighborhood Bus Stop (枣冲小区站) in Wuzhou


I will take this opportunity to share a few additional brief thoughts about Jumbo Wuzhou Buses:
  • By a large margin, I have seen the smallest Jumbo Wuzhou Bus the least. Sadly, I have yet to ride one. Because of this and the fact that the slightly larger bus seems closer in size with Hong Kong's minibuses, I now refer to the smallest size as the mini-minibus and the next size up, which I have ridden in various environments, the minibus. The larger regular-sized buses also come in slightly different sizes, but I haven't felt the need to give them different names. I would be interested to hear if others have come up with names though.
  • I found the reader's comment striking in part because I suspected the rust and such would have much more caught my own attention a lot more over a decade ago. In particular, it reminded me of the first time I traveled to Yunnan, also in Southwest China. I didn't feel great about getting on a few minibuses there. Now, I wouldn't blink.

And that brings an end, probably to the dismay of some readers, to the Jumbo Wuzhou Bus theme for now.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Two Contrasting Views From Jumbo Wuzhou Buses

Jumbo Wuzhou Buses are a common sight in Wuzhou, and I have recently made use of them on a number of occasions. To share a tiny bit more about the buses and the places they go, below are two photos from rides on smaller buses where I had a good view out of the front window. In the first case I was standing while heading from one central urban area to another. In the second case I was sitting while returning to an urban area after an unexpectedly long walk took me to a far more rural area. Both rides only cost 1 yuan (about U.S. 15 cents). At least one of the buses was a bit rusty, but I would say I still got more than my money's worth.

view from a Jumbo Wuzhou Bus on Fumin Road (阜民路)
At the western end of Fumin Road (阜民路)


view from a Jumbo Wuzhou Bus heading away from Baishe Village (白社村) in Wuzhou
Heading away from Baishe Village (白社村)

Sunday, March 10, 2019

A Comment About a Rusty Jumbo Wuzhou Bus

In response to a post about Jumbo Wuzhou Buses in Wuzhou, Guangxi, a reader commented:
I am surprised at the condition of the bus in the first picture. The cracked paint and rust stains make the bus look unreliable, and I would have expected the bus company to at least apply some paint over the cracks and clean off the rust stains.
My short reply is that I am not surprised and have seen (and ridden) buses in worse condition. While improving appearances might positively change perceptions of the buses' reliability, I question whether that alone would ultimately change many decisions regarding a ride that often costs just 1 RMB (about U.S. 15 cents) — possibly less with an IC card.

Regardless, people desiring less rusty buses could try expressing their feelings at the Jumbo Bus Company office in Wuzhou, which I happened to stumble upon today.

Jumbo Bus Company in Wuzhou (梧州珍宝巴士有限公司)


I'm not saying this is at all likely to work, but at least you could buy or add funds to an IC card there.

Since we're on the Wuzhou bus topic once more, I will share that the other night I saw somebody with a notable umbrella.

Person boarding a bus with a yellow Jumbo Wuzhou Bus umbrella.


What better way to wait in the rain for a Jumbo Wuzhou Bus, rusty or not?

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

An Apparent Mismatch for a Name: Mini Jumbo Wuzhou Buses in Guangxi, China

Hong Kong formally names its minibuses, like the one which appeared in the previous post, "public light buses". Wuzhou, a city in the Chinese autonomous region Guangxi, also has minibuses. But instead of "public light bus" they have another name on them.

mini Jumbo Wuzhou Bus (梧州珍宝巴士)


The "Wuzhou" and "Bus" parts of the name "Jumbo Wuzhou Bus" make obvious sense. "Jumbo" is less clear, though, since these are minibuses. If that is the jumbo size then what's the mini size?

A larger bus can help begin to clear up the mystery.

full-sized Jumbo Wuzhou Bus


They have the same name on them, which is the name of a bus company. This is clearly stated in smaller Chinese print elsewhere on the buses.

Jumbo Wuzhou Bus logo


Like buses in Hong Kong, some buses have advertising.

full-sized Jumbo Wuzhou Bus with advertising


However, you won't see advertising quite like what's on the minibus in the previous post. Hongkongers have greater political rights and more freedom of speech than people in mainland China. The "Tell Right From Wrong, True From False" slogan was part of a campaign for the Labor Party's attempt to win a 2018 Kowloon West by-election. But China still limits Hongkongers' rights to a degree that leads some people to claim Hong Kong doesn't have real democracy. These limitations were evident in Kowloon West election when the Labor Party's original candidate, Lau Siu-lai, was barred from running due to her previous stances regarding Hong Kong's self-determination.

Back to more mundane matters . . . in Wuzhou there are buses in between the mini Jumbo Wuzhou Bus and the regular-sized Jumbo Wuzhou Bus in terms of size. So here are two mini-plus Jumbo Wuzhou Buses:

two mid-sized Jumbo Wuzhou Buses


The word "珍宝" in the Chinese name for Jumbo Wuzhou Bus would often be translated as "treasure". But it is also a loanword in Cantonese meaning "jumbo" because of its similar sound to the English word. Like in Hong Kong, Cantonese is a commonly spoken language in Wuzhou.

I can't shed more light on what inspired the choice of "jumbo". But if you want to dig more, it might be worth looking into the Guangzhou buses with a similar name and logo.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

High Speed in Urban Zhuhai

high speed rail train in Zhuhai


Five years ago when I first travelled to Zhuhai by intercity high-speed rail I could only make it as far as the Zhuhai North Railway Station, from where I took a high-speed taxi. But now the high-speed rail line reaches all the way into Gongbei at the border with Macau. Today in front of the Chengfeng Plaza (诚丰广场) shopping mall, I saw a train pass by. The trains don't move at a high speed through the city. This makes photos a bit easier, though presumably that's not the main motivation.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

From Ganzhou to Lütian to Zhuhai

long-distance bus traveling from Ganzhou to Zhuhai
My mighty steed out of Ganzhou


Last Wednesday I boarded a long-distance bus in Ganzhou, Jiangxi. After the bus left the station, the man who had just moved to the seat in front of me began watching a loud action movie on his mobile phone without using headphones. After considering the early morning time and world peace, I inquired as to whether he would be willing to turn down the volume. He was. And shortly afterwards he stopped watching the movie. During the long journey, he watched video on his phone a few more times but always at a low volume and not for extended periods of times.

About four hours into the journey the bus and its approximately 15 passengers stopped at the Lütian Service Area at the side of the toll highway.

Lutian Service Area (吕田服务区)


I bought a chicken leg and some beef balls for 20 yuan (about U.S. $2.90) — pricey but such things can happen at a highway rest stop. Otherwise, as far as highway rest areas in China go, it was unremarkable. But the rest area at least offered a pretty good view.




I later learned that Lütian is a town in Conghua, a district in Guangzhou. Honestly, at the time I had no clue I was already in Guangzhou. I will forgive myself since this mountainous area is over 100 km (60 miles) from Guangzhou's central urban areas.

After a 7.5 hour journey, including the 20 minute rest stop, we arrived in Zhuhai — a city on the Guangdong coast I have posted about many times in the past. We could have arrived more quickly, but the bus also makes a stop in neighboring Zhongshan — another city featured in many past posts here.

Overall, the journey was comfortable, especially since we all had room to spread out on the bus. And it was more convenient than taking a train, which would have taken about the same amount of time, likely have been less comfortable during at least one leg of the trip, and have required transferring between far away train stations in either Shaoguan or Guangzhou. One motive for taking the train and transferring in Guangzhou, though, would be a lower price if 2nd class seats were purchased on both trains.

There's still much I want to share about Ganzhou. Some things I held off on because I first wanted to explore as much as I could there. So more about the city and life there is on the way. I wanted to share this travel experience, though, because it offers some clue for why this blog has been quiet for a few days and it helps explain why some non-Ganzhou-related posts may soon appear here as well.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Ganzhou Railway Station: A Flying Horse, a Sunset, and a Police-Evading Truck

Yesterday around 6 p.m. I stopped by the Ganzhou Railway Station to take a closer look at it and the surrounding area. Upon arriving I found a location safe for standing with a mostly clear view of the station and a large sculpture of a horse in front. The horse is based on the iconic Flying Horse of Gansu bronze sculpture and a symbol for the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), which recently merged with the Ministry of Culture to form the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The plaque on the base of the structure indicates the CNTA identified Ganzhou as a "Top Tourist City of China".

Just before lifting my camera, I heard a loud whistle behind me and turned around. A man driving a truck had turned into an area designated only for buses and a police officer was trying to stop him. The mistake seemed understandable, and I expected the driver would soon change course.

He didn't. Instead, after slowing down and showing clear awareness of the officer, he drove onwards. When the officer went running after the truck, it quickly accelerated. The man then drove into an area partially blocked by a gate.

A number of other police immediately became involved, but most of them didn't continue chasing the truck. They knew something the man possibly did not. There was no other way out. Unsurprisingly, the truck soon returned. Surprisingly to the driver, the police had completely blocked the road. The man chose not to go all Dukes of Hazard, and the police questioned after he had stopped.

This was not a great development for the man. Or me. With all the action now in the scene I had hoped to capture and plenty of police eyes about, I didn't know a) if me taking a photo would attract attention and b) whether the police would then question me. All I really wanted a photo of the statue and station and not create more of an event, so I waited.

The man initially tried to laugh the matter off. The police didn't laugh. They then appeared to ask for ID. Things proceeded rather peacefully after that, but there was no sign of when it would all end. So, I eventually gave up and quickly took two photos.

man driving truck stopped by police at the Ganzhou Railway Station
A China's Core Socialist Values display, the Flying Horse of Gansu, and the Ganzhou Railway station
(oh, and a truck stopped by police)


Fortunately, one turned out decently enough. Also nice, nobody approached me. As I walked away, I noticed they had allowed the man to depart. Especially for a person who had just explicitly ignored police orders and tried to evade them, the issue had been handled rather calmly and efficiently.

The rest of my time at the station passed by far more mundanely. Below are a few more photos I took of and from the station, some including the hard-to-miss horse. Train stations in China can be rather lively places, but at the time the station seemed relatively subdued. But at least the setting sun added some color.


bus parking lot and stop at the Ganzhou Railway Station


front of Ganzhou Railway Station and a McDonald's


view from Ganzhou Railway Station


view of China National Tourism Administration Flying Horse of Gansu sculpture at the Ganzhou Railway Station


China National Tourism Administration Flying Horse of Gansu sculpture at the Ganzhou Railway Station


front of the Ganzhou Railway Station (赣州火车站)

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Elevating an Escalator at a Construction Site in Ganzhou

Two nights ago I posted a photo of one of the trucks delivering escalators to a shopping mall construction site in Ganzhou. I thought it would be interesting to see an escalator make the journey off the trucks. But nothing seemed about to soon happen, so I continued onward somewhat disappointed.

Unexpectedly late last night, though, I happened to pass at just the right time and struck gold.

escalator hovering above a truck which delivered it to a construction site


crane lowering an escalator at a shopping mall construction site in Ganzhou


Never got to see that before. Maybe someday I can get into a construction site to watch the rest.