AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Beijing: A Nice Surprise

Beijing: A Nice Surprise


Posted on Nov 12, 2013

We arrived in Beijing yesterday afternoon at the main railway station. We exited the station and went to find out how to buy tickets and navigate the Beijing metro. We were a little apprehensive about the task and what lay ahead. But, the sign was in English and the task which we had feared was suddenly easy and hardly worth a moment’s thought. A mere 2 yuan (20p) gave us entrance to the metro (once you’re in it’s unlimited, go to any stop and change as often as you want). The underground is fantastic, the stations are logical and well signposted and in English. All the stations look brand new, big, spacious and bright. On the train the network maps are easy to read and announcements in English make it easy. The streets are clean with almost no litter – huge globs of spit are the only blemish on the street. People often step out of your way of they are walking toward you. Last night we went to buy rail tickets to Kunming (south China). The customer service was great. The woman spoke very little English but made every effort to understand what I wanted and was able to sell me the exact train ticket/time/bed location combination that I wanted. This would never have happened in Russia! Today we went to a bank which we had seen last night. We had some Euro notes and quite a lot of Russian Roubles left over which we wanted changed into Chinese Yuan. We entered the bank and looked around for the best cashier. Whilst looking the deputy manager came and asked us what service we required. She then printed us a ticket with a number and told us to sit and wait for our number to be called. The signs had English text, the forms had English text and all the staff we interacted with spoke English. Our leftover notes were quickly converted to Chinese Yuan. We left the bank surprised at just how easy that task was too. We were both surprised at just how Western China now looks. Everyone is wearing Western branded clothing and generally very fashionable. The latest mobile phones, tablets and other gadgets are in the hands of everyone under the age of 30. In the street Mercedes and Audis are everywhere. Even advertising is to Western standards and everywhere. In fact, in the underground it is even on the walls of the tunnels; as the train travels the images ‘move’ with the train. Up to this point we were loving Beijing, if it wasn’t for the Chinese text on signs and a few habits...

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