Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Reaching 250 Kilometers Per Hour...On The Ground

April 1st marked the opening day for a new dong che (very high speed train) from Beijing to Taiyuan, the capital city of Shanxi province. Prior to the opening of this route, which cuts through several mountain ranges via tunnels (one series of tunnels lasted over ten minutes, which at 250 kilometers per hour covers some serious tracks), the regular train ride took somewhere between seven and eleven hours as per reports from Taiyuan residents.

The views, especially in the greater Taiyuan area, are spectacular. They include canyons whose origins we are unsure of (nature or man made due to mining) and hills which show evidence of reforestation, as we observed thousands upon thousands of saplings planted in straight lines on almost every empty spot of land. Also visible were workers planting these trees, near makeshift tents that seem to be set up as their temporary housing, suggesting that these men sleep where they work.

Just another testimony to why train travel in China is so appealing...you kuai you fangbian (both quick and convenient). And for only 157 kuai each way, a little over twenty dollars, it is a luxury worth paying for.

~Desi

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