Rob’s Trip to China – Part 6 – The Subway

I had really been looking forward to being on the subway. I know that’s an odd thing to be excited about, but I have my reasons. First of all, I’ve never been on a subway anywhere before, so it would be a new experience for me. Second, As long as I’ve been talking with Rachel, I have spoken to her a lot on the subway.

Because of the time difference, I would be getting off work at the same time she would be leaving for work. I know her whole routine, getting on the bus, going to the station, and getting on the subway to work. I would hear the “Ding Dong” and the station announcements in Mandarin, Cantonese and English, and knew the name of her station where she would exit.

I felt a strong connection with the subway, it had been a part of my life, and it was an important part of my visit there, to finally make it a part of my memories, so in the future, I could remember first hand exactly what it was like when I spoke to her on the way to work.

When we went into the station, I really had no idea where we were and what I needed to do. I htst followed Rachel around like a lost puppy. There were a couple of ways to pay for the subway, one was to get individual tokens for a trip, and the other was to have a prepaid card. Rachel asked me to check the balances of a couple of her cards, and she was going to wait in line to get something. I went over to the machines. They were like ATM’s, and there were two different kinds, so I had to make sure I got the right one.

Fortunately there were instructions in English as well, and I managed to do it right. When you would go into the station to get on, you would scan your card at the turnstile, and then again once you got off.

There were escalators down to the platforms, and there was a system where you would stand to the right side, if you were just standing, and on the left, the lane was kept clear in case someone wanted to walk up or down, if they were in a hurry.

I was really amazed at how clean and well kept everything was, especially considering how much traffic there was. You also never had to wait for than five minutes for a train either. The platform areas were shielded with glass, and you would wait in front of a set of doors, and when the car would pull up, the doors would open after the train stopped, so there was no risk of anyone ever ending up on the tracks.

In true Chinese fashion, you were supposed to wait for people to exit before boarding, but it really didn’t work that way. Even though it wasn’t very busy, people still moved around like you had to jump at every opportunity.

Again, they were very clean on the inside. The subways in Shenzhen are pretty new, especially compared to Hong Kong. You don’t hear a lot of people talking, most everyone is quiet and minding their own business. It’s also considered polite to give up your seat for an old person, pregnant woman or a child, if the seats are full.

As much as Americans consider China to be anti-capitalistic, you wouldn’t know it from the subways. There was advertising everywhere inside, often for a single product, and in the huge windows on the outside, there were large flat screen TV billboards with advertising as well.

Near the Futian Checkpoint station, they had something really cool that was recently installed. Inside the tunnel there are a bunch of TVs, no idea how many, but it must be a lot, and each one has a single image on it. When you pass by it on the train, the speed of the train animates the images! (video) considering there was an advertisement, and then a short animation, it had to be hundreds of TV’s long.

During the entirety of the trip, I spent a lot of time on the subways, and it was a really great way of getting around. (perhaps if it had been really busy, I might not have thought so.) and I really got to know them well. I think even if I was alone, I could get anywhere I needed to go without much trouble.

It was also wonderful to be able to hold Rachel in my arms on the subway, to talk to her and be able to touch her, instead of just being on the phone. Even though I saw lots of amazing things during my stay, the subway will always hold a special place in my heart.

One of the awesome gifts Rachel got for me while I was there was a special commemorative subway pass. it was two prepaid cards and a card holder with “Year of the Snake” images on them. It was great to use them while I was there, and awesome and unique souvenir, and something I hope I can use again.

Once we got back to the station, it was a short bus ride home. The busses were very clean and prompt as well, and very cheap too. You may think that for such a clean, prompt and well maintained service, it would be really expensive (at least it would be in the US) it was really inexpensive for a traveler. The bus would be either 1 RMB to 2.5 RMB, which is 16 to 40 cents in USD. The most expensive subway trip I saw was 8 RMB, or about $1.29.

It was time to settle in to have some dinner and celebrate the new year!

Day1 album on Photobucket

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