May 5th, 2010
It’s shaping up to be quite an interesting year. Fortunately, the situation that was proving to be very draining is now dealt with. With a bit of luck, the rest of the semester will be a lot easier.
So May Day, and a much-needed rest, came, and we headed out to Yanqing as usual. Peace and quiet. And excavators digging up the village roads. Apparently the water pipes are to be fixed up. But even with the excavators, it was nice and quiet. Warm, too.
And as is our habit, we came back on May 2, trying to beat the holiday rush. We get to the bus station and saw a huge, long line of people and no buses. Apparently holiday traffic meant the buses were stuck down at the Beijing end of the expressway and couldn’t get back to Yanqing fast enough. A “taxi” driver (not a regular, legal taxi) was offering rides to the train station at 5 kuai per person – it would normally be 5 kuai all up, but we weren’t in the best bargaining position – and so, figuring it was better to get a train than stand in the sun for hours only to get stuck in traffic on the expressway, we jumped in.
I absolutely do not recommend taking that train. Certainly not on a public holiday, anyway. The train itself is fine, a fairly standard CRH train, but it is considerably more expensive and less frequent than the bus, the new Yanqing station it stops at is not in the most convenient location (great for the “taxi” drivers, though), and if you’re taking the train from Yanqing, the station is a big, empty nothing. A large hall with an electronic screen showing the next couple of scheduled trains, a few seats, and toilets. That’s it. No concession stands, nowhere to get a drink or snack or newspaper, no entertainment of any kind, not even a TV. Nothing. So we walked outside. The neighbouring petrol station had a sign announcing a convenience store, but there was no convenience store. We crossed the road and found a petrol station that did sell more than just petrol, though, and got some drinks and snacks. We wandered around a bit to see if there was anywhere better to wait for the train, perhaps a restaurant – it was, after all, almost dinner time. There must’ve been something around, I mean, there was a housing estate behind the petrol station, but we couldn’t find anything. So back to the train station to wait.
Eventually we got on the train. There weren’t many people and it was comfortable. But then we get to the really big problem with taking the train: Badaling. Of the stations we stopped at where I could see the platform, only Badaling had barriers. Barriers and hordes of tourists. Opening the train doors was something akin to bursting a dam, and within seconds the train was grossly overcrowded and uncomfortable. Still, that is holiday travel.
Nice train, pity about the price, infrequent service, crappy station, and overcrowding. Still better than standing in the sun waiting for buses stuck in traffic, though.
While I’m ranting, I might as well get this one out of my system, too, although it is completely unrelated: I like Sogou’s Pinyin IME. I like that it updates automatically on a very regular basis, it’s easy to use, and it does a pretty good job of ‘guessing’ which words I want. What I do not like is that on its latest update, it also downloaded and installed Sogou’s browser and set that as my default browser. No, Sogou, no. I will be the one to decide which browser(s) I will use and which will be my default browser.
Oh well, now that I have the Sogou browser, I suppose I should at least try it and see how it compares to the competition. But I would have appreciated being offered some choice in the matter.
Might as well continue the string of unrelated rants: Kaixin001’s farm game is giving me far too much free 枸杞 (gǒuqǐ, Chinese wolfberry – only just learned what that is in English just now)!
Ah, I feel much better now.
And with the end of that rather draining situation and a good rest, I should be able to get stuck into the multitude of projects that have had to be put on hold for a lack of energy. That should mean, among other things, a resusscitation of this blog – or at least a little less neglect.