On The Metro: Chengdu, Nanjing & Urumqi!

A first for the 'On The Metro' series, that describes my experiences from three metro lines in Wuhan and Beijing respectively. There's more to follow with Beijing due to the subway network spanning some series track, Wuhan will be revisited for future projects. In the here and now I will take this blog series to different Chinese city's to see my experiences whilst 'On The Metro!'


Arriving into Chengdu's East Railway Station during October 2015, time didn't allow me much time to familiarise myself with its then growing metro system, a friend had given me his 'Tianfu Tong' so I could recharge it and be on my way to 'Chunxi Lu'. Coloured coded with its orange shade, Chengdu's Line 2 transported from the station to the buzzing shopping mecca in Chengdu known as 'Chunxi Road'. After checking into to my hotel I found myself back on the metro at the only interchange station, 'Tianfu Square' being the centre of the city brought me to the centre of the daytime action. I caught a glimpse of the towering office buildings that dominated the busy downtown '广场'. Outside of the Science and Technology Museum I saw the famous statue of the former Chairman Mao Ze Dong. At an actual crossroad within the centre of the city, I took a chance 'Wen Shu Yuan', having not done any research aside from the Panda Researching and Breeding Park I trusted that last minute find. Line 1 thankfully took the wheel! 在地铁上! 

'Wenshu Folk Street' fronted me with a whole lot of Western Chinese style delights, the freshly squeezed pomegranate went down a treat! Tibetan items of all kinds were laid out on mats for sale, the customs and colours had me in a place I loved! Uyghur kebabs for an early tea? Yes! The 'Wen Shu Monastery' took me away to the heavens, the crowds became sizeable but I focussed on the beauty of the monastery, migrating to the tea garden when the time was right gave me a chilled cup of 热茶. Getting back to my hotel, securing my nighttime location I headed for the metro with much excitement. 'Dong Men Da Qiao' was my station on Line 2, taking exit D2 I crossed the road to be on the left side of the river, only after going down the steps I arrived at 'MCPub'. Getting my life, the club was amazing, it gave me first LGBT nightclub experience in China! Returning the following night I knew what I was going to do, I knew what I wanted once downstairs! Chengdu's metro system gave me all the goods! 成都男人好漂亮! 爱你成都!


Nanjing had me on a crazy journey that I don't ever want to change! During June 2016, I pulled into Nanjing's South Railway Station for the the first time to be greeted with an instant transfer from high speed platform to metro underground, the Dragon Boat Festival crowds grew but I thought I knew where I was going. Before my Chinese map reading skills were competent I relied on printed out maps with the Chinese hotel address on for the taxi driver to read, I felt confident that day so changed my plan. Not expecting nothing too grand for the central interchange station, the twenty something exits at 'Xin Jie Kou' metro station had me bamboozled and then some! My Pinyin Chinese reading skills really needed to improved, oh that iPhone would be purchased eventually! Getting my trip going I keep the metro in Nanjing at arms length, I felt like trusting the street! Little did I know those directional errors would put me in good stead for my 2019 return to the city to see my Scottish friend, Chris. 我的天啊! 

The following day I had my game face on, I was on the way to one of Nanjing's most famous points of interest. One way or another I found myself on Line 2 of Nanjing's metro, keeping vigilant as to not miss my stop I reached 'Xi Ma Fang' without any stress. The 'Mausoleum of Zhongshan' was seen without any issues, I was getting the hang of the underground system in Jiangsu's provincial city. I would have a local foreign guy upon my next visit and bump into the streets that I got lost on that now have their own metro stations. Onto the next thing I boarded a metro train on Line 3 to '夫子庙-地铁站' to Nanjing's Confucius Temple. Clocking the temple after I exited from the metro station, I was on course to see the waters of the 'Qinhaui River'. Typically, as my first trip to Nanjing was coming to a close I had found my sense of direction, Nanjing had me in my feelings in the best way! The metro system got me back to the high speed station without stress, little did I know would be back in 2019! Nanjing schooled me! 


July 2019 brought my trip to China's far Western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, touching down into Xinjiang's Diwopi International Airport had me walking into a whole new world even though I was still located within the China Mainland! From my airport arrival I was able to find Urumqi's newly opened Line 1 of the developing metro system. My eyes and ears had me wanting to believe I was in a Turkic nation, the older lady sitting opposite me looked as if she was Turkish, in that moment I was being introduced to the faces of the Uyghur race. My Urumqi Metro train took me further away from the passport check I received at the airport metro station, it was crazy! The accents sounded so different, was I in Istanbul? I was amazed by the vast difference with the local language of the Xinjiang province. My stop had arrived, getting off at 'Nan Men metro station, I wasn't prepared to see the amount of mosques once I had stepped out from the exit. Breathing in the Urumqi City air, I felt free in the West of China! 

Checked into my hotel, I was ready to explore the Bazaar to find locally made crafts for my friend and my classroom's English Corner. Taking the metro down from 'Nan Men' it was an experience like no other because the metro security guards had trouble scanning my new paper photo page of my British passport, both parties didn't understand each other because my Chinese skills failed me in that moment. Anyhow, I arrived at 'Er Da Qiao' to find the colourful Bazaar that had me spending all of my money up! The experience on the metro in Urumqi was an eye-opening experience, both with the security check  but the rich collection of languages and different Chinese faces that I saw during my first moments in Urumqi, Xinjiang. I decided to walk back to my hotel after I had finished buying all those crafts, I would walk later on to the food street for some halal treats. Tianshan District had me transfixed with its relics and street sights! I saw at least three mosques down one street! All three metro systems impressed me! 

رەھمەت سىزگە! 谢谢你! 

Joseph Harrison 

Comments

  1. What an adventure! 3 different environments and each sounded splendid🥰

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