Express engineering

Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
Trip End Jan 04, 2012

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Flag of China  ,
Wednesday, August 10, 2011

If anyone is critical of China's brand spanking new rail network, and suggest that because we can't do it in that time it surely must be unsafe or dodgy has to see it for themself. What has been achieved in a short amount of time is truly a feat of engineering and something I am very impressed by. The stations aren't a work of art and the system isn't overly efficient. But it works. It gets you from A to B in super quick time, is comfortable and is still much cheaper (67 quid booked 2 days in advance for a 6 hour trip)  than that we can manage in the UK. Some of the guys in charge in the UK should take a look at what can be achieved and pull their finger out as this is real progress. Mini rant over.

We jumped onboard in Hangzhou in a hectic station with people queuing for the train half an hour before it got there - these guys queue with the best of them. The train was comfy and offered little in the way of entertainment - I watched some wierd film about two guys working for a baby accessory manufacturer and the shennanigans they got up to with the babies - oh the fun. everyone polite, except the lady serving drinks in the dining car. she actually gave me a different drink to the one i asked for so she didnt have to deal with giving me change - thats effective service; not that I could argue. Oh and Kate slept, a lot.

We got into Beijing and found our way on the slightly stuffier than Shanghai metro but it all works the same and not too confusing. Out onto the night streets and even though 1100km from where we started, only a mere 4 degrees cooler. The Hostel was easy to find down a Hutong (neighborhood) backstreet, walking past people playing chess together and having a chat on the corner finding the sweaty westerners something to grin about.
Nice place, a bit grubby (Kates own words) but the actual hostel is very friendly, staff capable and drinks menu vast. Happy hour allowed me to sample Beijing Beer (2 for 12Yen - about 1.20). Kate kept them busy with a couple of coctails - they looked a bit shocked when a certain someone asked for a pina colada - this took about 40 minutes and 5 attempts before they produced something they were willing to serve (I think they were drinking the attempts behind the bar to check). The crowd is nice and there are more of the Englanders here and a nice german lady started playing Tenacious D on here guitar which amused me greatly. Good start to Beijing.
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