Pages

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

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.


Sunday, August 5, 2018

Not in Africa: A Brief Story of Taking the Train Out of Guangdong

boy sitting on luggage shaped as a seat
In a waiting room at the Huizhou Railway Station
(photo doesn't include the children mentioned in this post)


As I approached my seat after boarding the train in Huizhou, the 8-year-old boy who would be sitting across from me excitedly announced to his mother and younger sister, "A European!"

Before I could helpfully correct him, I heard him less certainly suggested another possibility. I then decided it was now best not to correct him.

After all, I'm not identified as an African every day.

The train's seats were sold out, and there were a number of people who had bought standing-only tickets. It had been a while since I had taken a non-high-speed train like this one, but most things seemed the same. So much life.

As the train began moving, I found it hard to get excited about being on the train for another five hours. Yet I knew most people were likely in for a longer ride. Anybody there for the final destination still had more than 27 hours to go. Five hours now seems pretty good. Did I mention my ticket cost less than eight American dollars?

It took some time, but eventually I entered a train-Zen state of mind. There was so much to take in. The 8-year-old boy and his sister carried on at times, but, unlike their mother, I soon appreciated the entertainment. For what it is worth, my brother and I at that age would have been far less peaceful under such conditions.

Now I am in Ganzhou. No, that's not a typo for Guangzhou. I could've made it there in much less time. I'm out of Guangdong province and now in Jiangxi province.

This is my second time in Ganzhou, but it has been a while. More about this place, so far from Africa, another time.

Oh, that boy and his sister . . . they still had more than 4 hours to go after I disembarked the train. I'm guessing mostly all went fine.

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.