26 June 2018

On The Metro: Beijing's Line 14!

Onto the metro once again, Beijing's vast Subway network got me acquainted with Line 14 the day after I arrived in China's capital city! Making stops at Wangjing, Wangjing South, Chaoyang Park and Beijing South Railway Station showed me this rapid transit line covers some serious distance across Beijing. Being the first line I used in BJ, Line 14 is my connection into the city!

Arriving in Beijing during November 2017 saw me spend my first few days on the doorstep of Chaoyang Park, boasting its own Line 14 station I made use of both the park and the Subway before moving to the outlying suburb of Shunyi. The first few days in Beijing had me crazy busy, I opened a new bank account and changed cards for a second account, having some spare time the day before heading up to my new apartment I checked out Chaoyang Park for myself. Feeling like I was in a Chinese Central Park, the towering structures of Beijing's CBD stood in the vista for me to marvel at. Chaoyang Park Subway Station saw me buy my first and so far only Yikatong travel card, basically functioning on all the official modes of transport in Beijing meant I had unlocked the key to seeing the city during my free time! Looking back, Chaoyang Park was my first sight in my new Chinese City! Oh, Beijing's Line 14 had more for me!

Transitioning from Wuhan to Beijing wasn't bad, being in a more developed city had pro's rather than cons when its concerned public transport. My first Beijing Subway post may have been about Line 15 but Line 14 showed me a more organised side of underground travel compared to that of Wuhan! The morning rush hour was no joke during those first Chaoyang mornings, making my way to Shunyi was fine once the packed trains quietened down. Back to Chaoyang Park, that slice of Beijing parklife gave me life, no stress could be felt in the air and it was a cut above Wuhan's Zhongshan Park in the respect the locals knew how to behave themselves, not spitting on the floor or seeing kids urinate in the bushes was a comfort compared to my previous Chinese City! It was so refreshing to finally be in Beijing, the road had been rocky but Chaoyang Park welcomed me! Walking more than I thought I was going to, I took Line 14 back to Chaoyang Park Station from Zaoying because I could! Go 14!

It took a lot but Beijing's 798 Art District was my lucky star, getting me out of an unhealthy pattern of laziness teamed with my current hectic schedule, I got back on Line 14 to see what was good! Getting off at Wangjing South had to be the one, Gao Jia Yuan hasn't been opened yet so I scanned a MoBike and peddled in the right direction, was it even the right direction? Catching glimpses of what looked like an abandoned industrial plant I knew I had reached Beijing's 798 Art District, keeping away from the booze the previous night had all been worth it! I had only seen bits and pieces about this Beijing reinvention project, saved by art galleries and arty installations I was interested to see how much the area had really been gentrified as reports have heavily suggested. At first glance, I thought I was in a working power plants with overhead water pipes standing above me, that wasn't so. Getting out of my rut felt great!

Taking it easy, walking down the crisscrossing pedestrianised roads gave me a sense of what I had really been missing, my schedule had kept me busy without realising where the time had gone by. Even if I didn't see the more notable places that the tourist websites advertise wasn't a problem, taking my time was just the ticket! I found a little shop that sold a beer with my name on it, literally it was waiting in the fridge for me to buy. Listening to the music pumped out from a van just opposite selling cd's set the summertime mood, not a care in the world I had and the beer tasted great! For what I saw it didn't make any difference that they weren't on the tourist map, for me it was all about taking in the sights and to see somewhere new in Beijing. Line 14 had a plan to get me back out into the city and that wasn't just out for a crazy night in Sanlitun because the metro doesn't do Destination! 798 Art District was what I needed, biking back to Wangjing South, Line 14 took me towards SY.

Beijing South Railway Station currently stands as the eastern terminus of Line 14, a little bit more track needs to built to connect the existing two branches of this Beijing Subway line. Getting to Beijing South Railway Station was a breeze but it was like a maze once I had swiped the ticket barriers from the underground. Firstly, I took the high speed train to Tianjin from Beijing Nan then I was off to Suzhou a few months later, by my second time I was fine navigating the crowds. Arriving back into Beijing South Railway Station from Changchun on the high speed line had to be done, the metro ride might span two lines to reach my current Shunyi home but with Beijing South Railway Station being a current terminus I have continuously been able to bag a seat! Grasping the enormity of this Beijing transport hub took some time! It's a far cry from Wuhan Railway Station, I'm not bitter about those Wuhan train journeys.

I definitely believe that Line 14 gave me that connection to the city along with Line 15 from Shunyi, living in suburbia gets a bit boring sometimes so that Wangjing stop between Line 14 and 15 has given me the opportunity to see 798 Art District after my sightseeing hiatus. Chaoyang Park Subway Station welcomed me to Line 14, guiding me through those first five days around certain parts of the city, linking with a new friend at Dawang Road Subway Station around the corner from Beijing's Central Business District. Buying my first Yika Tong gave me the opportunity to begin my Beijing Subway journey, its still a learning progress but throughout my time in Beijing so far I am trying my best to ride on all of them. Line 14 will see me coming back for more, getting into the city is something I need after this crazy Montessori journey, I know it's all going to be fine. Beijing South Railway Station, I know that I will be seeing you and your Line 14 stop! Line 14, get your Wangjing rush hour sorted out!

Thanks, Line 14!

Joseph Harrison 

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