Not Made in China
Posted by Heliocentrism on May 6, 2009
February 17, 2008
My Heart and Seoul
I left Wuhan on the 9:41pm train to Shanghai. I was ready to go back to Seoul. In China I was illiterate. When most people looked at me, I could see little yuan signs in their eyes.
Back in Seoul I’m less illiterate and there aren’t many people trying to hustle tourists there. I just feel more at home in Seoul. In fact, for right now Seoul is my home.
I almost missed my train to Shanghai. My hotel, in Wuhan, was right across the street from the train station, so I thought there would be no way I could possibly be late. But just to make sure I planned to leave the hotel 45 minutes before my train was scheduled to arrive in Wuhan.
It’s now time to explain some things about Chinese train stations. First off, whoever it was that designed and built these stations probably doesn’t actually live in China. My guess is that he or she has never even visited, seen, or heard of China. This person must live in Montana or Kansas and doesn’t quite understand the concept or dynamics of a large group of people.
At any given Chinese train station there are millions of people trying to get in through one or two front entrances. At the few entrances are “luggage scanners”. I use quotation marks because I doubt that any of them actually work.
Commuters place their suitcases on the conveyor belt and the machine shoots the luggage out the other end so quickly that nothing could possibly be scanned. If the scanner were to actually find anything, who would notice? The “guard” in charge hardly ever pays attention. Most of the time the scanner’s screen is turned off.
Once inside the station people go to the waiting area for their particular train. There are never enough seats. People start to sit on the floor, but then they quickly run out of floor space. Then people sit outside the waiting area in the hall. That fills up pretty quickly too.
It took me about 45 minutes to get to the entrance, get my stuff “scanned”, wade through the masses of people sitting on the floor, find my gate, and get on my train. I was still looking for my berth when the train was pulling out of the station.
Once in Shanghai, I went to the People’s Park. It was lovely. I sat in the park and relaxed until it was time to go to the airport to catch my flight back to Seoul. I took the 925 bus to the airport.
I would return to China in the summer of this same year. And, though every time I vow never to do it again, I would return to China many, many more times after that.
How to get there:
- You can enter by plane, train, boat, or bus
- Make sure to get a visa before going to China.
- Visas to China are expensive for people of some nationalities.
- Getting a Chinese visa is not a quick process. Apply as soon as you can.
There is a long list of websites that cannot be accessed while in China. Facebook and parts of Wikipedia are just two of them. As with everything, there are ways around it. There are sites that will let you get to Facebook and other sites for free for about 15 minutes, then you will have to pay.
My advice is to find a few of them and use them for free. Then use them again on a different computer. If you are in China for a long time, then you might want to invest in paying for the service. Ask friends living in China for the best deals.
- A Bite of China (Playlist)
- Anthony Bourdain – No Reservations – Harbin, China
- China: A Century of Revolution (Playlist)
- China Uncensored (Playlist)
- Crash Course:
- Engineering an Empire: China
- The Bonesetter’s Daughter
- Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
- Dreams of Joy (Part 2 of Shanghai Girls)
- Empress Dowager Cixi
- The Joy Luck Club
- The Kitchen God’s Wife
- Lost on Planet China
- Mao’s Last Dancer
- Mao: The Unknown Story*
- The Private Life of Chairman Mao
- Sex Lives of the Great Dictators
- Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
- The Red Chamber
- Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China*
*These books by Jung Chang are banned in China. But I highly recommend reading Mao: The Unknown Story before going to Beijing.
- If you want an internet cafe look for this (网吧) on a sign.
The People’s Square
Take the metro to the People’s Square station.
- The 925 bus goes between the park and the airport. (If it’s still running.)
There are many well-known landmarks near the park. Here is the list from Wikipedia:
- Park Hotel Shanghai
- Jinjiang tower
- Tomorrow Square
- Municipal government headquarters
- Hong Kong New World Tower
- Radisson Shanghai
- Shanghai Grand Theatre
- Shanghai Museum
- Shanghai Art Museum
- Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall
- Shimao International Plaza
- Nanjing Road
- Raffles City