■ 16:21 (UTC+08:00), 04 MAR 2010 | CHN BEIJING
■ ITEM FIRST POSTED BEFORE 01 JUL 2011
I presented a speech in early 2010 at Ignite Beijing about exploring China on Twitter, which featured my tweeted train travels in the country.
My first “go” on the rails in China came as Beijing’s Subway Line 5 opened in a city which was increasingly stuck in awful road traffic. The love of the rails then spread to other cities as the Beijing-Tianjin Intercity High Speed Railway opened on 01 August 2008.
Travels by train to much of Greater China has opened up me to new destinations and interesting people, and as I also tweet a lot on Twitter, nationwide tweetups with my followers and friends have emerged, making travel by train “with the Twitter factor” that bit more special.
I recounted how the train has replaced the plane in my journeys, starting with the first long-distance travel (to Qingdao) by train instead of plane, and how these trips sometimes take me to one-off events, such as the total eclipse of the sun in Shanghai (July 2009). I also made a brief mention of my non-rail trips, including chasing the partial solar eclipse in early January 2010.
I added a mention of social media through my talk, noting how trips today with the social media factor were quite different from trips that were previous had by oneself only and not shared with a wider audience. I mentioned how it felt to be live-tweeting your journeys from the Middle Kingdom to an interested audience around the world.
I finally mentioned how the trains take him to parts of China where he has another “side shtick”: discovering Chinglish. I concluded by saying that the trip ends where the rails end (and as they don’t really end for good, neither do the journeys). I left the audience interested as I pondered where my next trip might take me to another unchartered, little discovered part of China. ■ ■ ■