Tuesday, February 07, 2006

First bit of exploring.

I finally went and did a bit of wandering around yesterday evening. Instead of sitting in watching TV I can't understand, I decided to try out the metro and head into Tiananmen Square. It was my first real journey out of the "comfort zone", into an area where I had a pretty good idea that no-one could understand me, or me them. Then again, it doesn't exactly take a cunning linguist to go up to a ticket counter and say "Ahr, Xiexie" (two please). There's no ticket machines here yet, so everything is still done by hand. Not exactly rocket science though!

I had to get two separate tickets, one for the light rail from Wudaokou (my station) to Xizhimen, then another to connect to the metro at Xizhimen. When the ticket lady gave me the tickets, I wasn't sure what to do with tem, as one was a cardboard ticket and the other was paper - two different systems! I took a random guess and put the cardboard ticket into the machine at Wudaokou, and luckily guessed right, 'cos they took the other ticket off me at Xizhiemen!

What can I say, the metro is the metro, pretty much the same in any country. Luckily the signs were all up in Chinese and in Pinyin, so I could at least tell which station was which, and the announcements were in mandarin and english. It was sort of funny though, for most of the stations, the announcements went something like:

Announcer: <something in chinese> Fuchengmen <keeps talking for another 20secs>
then:
Announcer: The next station is Fuchengmen.

Some of the public safety notices on the windows of the carriages were in engrish as well, I'm going to have to try to get a photo!

Anyway, between having to change lines twice and all, it took a good hour to get into Tiananmen square, and when I got off the train I was the only one at that stop. When I got out of the station I soon figured out why - it was about minus 10 degrees with a wind chill of easily another -2! I was pretty glad that I brought my ski gloves and neckwarmer, altho I was wishing I'd brought my ski hat too. My first impressions were: "big", "impressive", and "cold!". I sort of felt sorry for the guards who were guarding Mao's tomb, I was freezing my ass off just standing there for 5 mins! The square itself was closed off , so I just stuck around long enough to take a few pics, and headed back again. So, as excursions go it wasn't exactly up there with the Lewis & Clark expedition, but it was a start!

1 comment:

Michael Twomey said...

Cool, did you get to see much of the city from the metro, or was it all underground?

And I wonder what people would have made of the hat :)