Wednesday, April 6, 2011

High Speed Rail to Tianjin

This little post is a trip down memory lane. These pictures of the Beijing-Tianjin High Speed Rail have been gathering dust in the Blogger archive, but today they will, finally, be revealed to you.

With China rapidly developing its rail and especially high speed rail networks--there's literally construction dust everywhere--we wanted to get in on the fun and take a short trip on one of these new and super fast trains.

So...we decided to have lunch in the neighboring city of Tianjin. Like Beijing, Tianjin is actually a city-state, a city that is not part of a state and directly falls under the national government, a national central city so to speak. The whole trip of course was kind of crazy: we could have driven to Tianjin in maybe 90 minutes, but instead we drove 45 minutes to the train station in southern Beijing, waited 30 minutes or so for the train, and then zipped over to Tianjin ("oooh, we are going so fast!") in 30 minutes.

Well, that last part was cool, with the meter in front of the train telling you are going 230 km/hr, 240 km/hr, up to above 300 km/hr. Sweet. Though the kids were less excited: they probably had expected something more like a roller coaster, after all the hype from their parents. The train didn't even make a corkscrew loop--just a straight shot to Tianjin: Boring!

Here are pictures of the train and some of Tianjin's famous sights:

Waiting at the Beijing South Railway station until we can go down onto the train platform. You can buy your tickets on the spot--there are trains every half-hour, so no need to buy them in advance.

Beijing South Railway station: Lots of seats and a few out-of-place palm trees.

The high speed train.

The view from the window--no way of telling here how fast you are going.

Just like a fast bus really.

If you push it, it goes faster.

It was still the middle of winter, around Chinese New Year. "Bloody cold" I might say.

Three brave men (see Paul, Simon, Thomas on the walkway) going on to the ice to cross the river from the station area towards downtown Tianjin.

There's always another way to cross the ice.

Lunch was the main reason to come here, and it was definitely worth it. Tianjin is known for its baozi, which are steamed bread rolls with a filling of veggies or meat. Delicious.

This would be how they are steamed. Each of those boxes has a baozi.


Baozi up close and personal.

I recently read that one (or the main?) reason for stacking up all the baozi is that you can steam all of them at once, which saves a lot of energy for cooking.

We managed to do a little sightseeing beyond the baozi. Tianjin once upon a time had a lot of missionaries and European visitors, so now they have a cathedral. I am sure Beijing has one somewhere too, but this is the first cathedral I've seen since coming to China.

Nice floor.

Also in China, the cross is carried. This picture was part of Simon's effort to snap a picture of all the "Stations of the Cross." With our many visits to protestant churches, he'd never seen the graphic images that children in Catholic churches (me!) grow up with.

Another snapshot of the church. OK, we hadn't seen a cathedral in a long time.

I rest my case.

Back out on the streets.

Like anywhere else, you have a city and people shop.

Brothers in arms.

More shopping.

Another shopping street. I just want to make sure you get a good view of Tianjin! (Truth be told: There is another part of Tianjin with more European buildings, but after all the walking to get to the baozi and the cathedral, we decided to leave that for some other time.)

In a lot of cities and touristy places, you can hop on these buses for a couple kuai (couple Chinese Yuans, maybe 70 cents) and ride from one end of the mall to the other. For the kids' usually the favorite part of a walk downtown.

Coca cola rabbit. It was just around New Year's after all. (2011 is the Year of the Rabbit.)

Fireworks' leftovers. Just a typical street view this time of year.

Some more walking around along a cozy Tianjin street :-)

In the back of the pedicab going back to the train station. I correct my earlier statement: THIS is really the kids' favorite part of a city walk.

Back at the station, we actually spend the longest time trying to find the platform to board our train back to Beijing. But when we do, only another 30 minutes later we emerge 120 kilometers to the northwest, back in our old hometown: Beijing.

In het Nederlands: In februari--inderdaad al ettelijke maanden geleden--zijn we een dagje naar Tianjin gegaan, een stadje zo'n 120 kilometer ten zuidoosten van Beijing. De belangste reden om te gaan was niet zozeer de stad zelf, alhoewel er lekkere baozi te eten waren en een mooie kerk om te bezichtigen, maar we wouden zo graag eens met de nieuwe hoge snelheidslijn.

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