Wanting an experience of doing everything myself and learning, an early rise, high tempo stroll and Metro up to Xi’an Bei is necessary, as when I popped up yesterday, I had forgotten my passport.
The streets are busy, all the kids at middle school (Academy) have to be in for 7-7.30am and usually, when they finish at 4pm, they have extra tutorial classes. No wonder they are top of the international educational rankings. I hit the English speaking window and sorted, only first class left, but hey, a little bit of luxury since I’ve been saving on my accommodation.
The bullet train is hitting a regular 303-305 km/h throughout the journey and although you may consider 7h 19m, to be a very long journey, it passes in no time. Station stops are 3-4 mins each time and people regularly queue up as the train pulls in, not to get off, but desperate to smoke on the platforms as it’s 2 hours till the next stop. How do these people sleep if they cant go more than 2 hours at a time without a lung buster?
Sprawling Hills and paddy fields, are cut in between the mountain areas and for 50% of the journey the scenery is untouched. Lots of villages and small towns, poor villages and poor towns, but every area has the locals in their fields, tending to their harvest. Old style, basic brick houses and lots of ponds, dark green, so i’m thinking their polluted somewhat.
It’s easy to pass the time between the darkness of the tunnels through the hilly land. What’s interesting is probably how cut off all these places between the big cities are. On hillsides you see marble grave stones. Some old and some new, generations of maybe 3-4 families in each particular community.
In stark contrast we have the cities, massive, massive cities. Speaking to one chap he tells me that the recorded population of some cities is only about 75% of what the true population is. ‘Why?’ I ask, its because many do not have a residency.
As you hit the edge of a city, you see towering skyscrapers and multiple housing blocks and although they look fairly modern, the first thought in my mind every time is Grenfell. Most have North, Main and South train stations and its takes a good 15 minutes to go round the city, they are so big. What’s interesting is there is still poverty at the edge of the cities, shacks at house and gardens for food.
For miles and miles you do not see one pylon, then hunners of them as the rural areas become urban. There has been lots of mining of the countryside and more and more, purpose built cities the foundations are being laid for. It’s a time of significant change under tight Communist Party control.