back in Yanqing

May 3rd, 2007

We’re in the village again. We came up on Tuesday. Actually, the trip was a little weird and kind of frustrating.

On the way to Deshengmen, on the Badaling Expressway (yes, that’s the road we take to Yanqing, and it’s also the quickest way to the bus at Deshengmen) the northbound traffic was flowing smoothly, for once. Southbound was alright until just south of Madian, and then it was hopelessly jammed. We arrived at Deshengmen and discovered that the buses had been separated into Badaling and Yanqing again. Excellent. But the queue for the Yanqing buses stretched over a hundred metres, while the queue for the Badaling buses was unusually short. Fortunately, though, they were loading up the buses two at a time, and they’ve started putting even bigger buses on the Yanqing route, so it didn’t take us too long to get on a bus. Then, as we had seen on the way to Deshengmen, the traffic was light and smooth on the expressway. Right up until we hit the mountains, that is. Some bright spark decided it’d be a good idea to let the trucks back on to the expressway from Nankou and join all the holiday traffic. Brilliant. And then we got to the Badaling carpark. The 919s almost always leave the expressway at the Badaling carpark, even if they’re not going to Badaling, as they have a stop at Xibozi. In fact, only once before have I seen the 919 go straight down the expressway past Badaling. On Tuesday it was business as normal, we turned off the expressway into the Badaling carpark and hit traffic. Big traffic. I think it took the better part of an hour to get through the carpark and onto the road to Xibozi.

And of course the usual suspects started yelling at the conductor. Absolute bullshit, as you would expect, about how the driver should not have gotten off the expressway at Badaling, the bus always goes straight past. Bullshit. They threatened to phone the company to complain. Go ahead, dicks, it’ll get you nowhere, and if you had even a fraction of the local knowledge you claim to possess, you’d know that.

But WHY?!?!?!?!?!

WHY would all these people who had obviously amassed enough money to buy a car, and so are presumably not completely stupid, drive past both Juyongguan and Shuiguan, whose carparks were still in a manageable state (although I did notice three tourists- licence plates were Tianjin, Shanxi and somewhere far away from Beijing- all driving the wrong way on the road outside the Juyongguan carpark and all getting in each others’ way and all incapable of figuring out what they should be doing- I did say not completely stupid) to spend their precious holiday time stuck in a traffic jam in a carpark? WHY?!

And WHY did the police or whoever was responsible for affairs at the carpark and the access road not think to open up a special lane for public transport? It wasn’t the bus passengers’ fault the traffic was so bad, we were all on public transport, and quite possibly a majority of us just wanted to get to the county town. It was those rich bastards fucking up the traffic and pumping shitloads of pollutants into the air. Why punish us for their selfish stupidity? Fuck the rich. No, wait, eat the rich. There must be plenty of calories stored up in their bodies, and judging by the lack of intelligence their behaviour at Badaling displayed, I find it hard to believe the world would miss them. Huiguo rich bastard for the people!

And why does the Bafanda bus company insist on stopping at Xibozi? I’ve never seen many people get off the bus there. Why not, when they’re separating the Badaling and Yanqing buses, let us go straight past Badaling?

Anyway, we got through, eventually, and continued on our merry way. We got off the bus a bit early, at Nancaiyuan instead of Dongguan, which turned out to be a good decision. Unfortunately, the bus ahead of us was the 920 we needed to get up to the village, so we had to wait another half hour for the next bus. Fortunately, there was a restaurant right next to the bus stop, and I was starving and my blood sugar level was plummeting, and in such bright, sunny weather it is not a good idea for someone with skin as fair as mine to stand around outside soaking up UV. So we got a quick lunch, my blood sugar levels went back up to a somewhat normal level, and we went back to the bus stop just as the next 920 pulled up. Wrong 920, though, as was the one behind it, and the one behind that, but two minutes later a fourth 920 arrived, and this one was going our way.

That’s one of the problems with transport in Beijing’s outer suburbs. Tongzhou is the same. About a million different bus routes share the same number, meaning you have to be careful, you could easily get on a bus with the right number but find yourself in completely the wrong place. Changping and Yanqing share the 919 route, meaning on the rare occasions I’ve managed to convince a friend to come visit me up here I’ve had to give very, very precise directions lest they wind up somewhere in Changping instead. That isn’t a fate I would wish on my worst enemies. And within the county, the 920s are the same.

Actually, a friend is on the way up as we speak. He’s been here before, fortunately, so he has a good enough idea of how to get here and he shouldn’t have any trouble. We’ll see how the traffic is on the expressway and at Badaling, though….. He could find himself stuck on a bus far longer than he was expecting. Warned him, though.


We got home alright and that’s the main thing. It’s good to be here.

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