■ 22:55 (UTC+08:00), 14 NOV 2016 | CHN CHAOYANGMEN, BEIJING
I’ve seen quite a fair bit of railway stations by now — the good, and the bad; the well thought-out, and the absolute horrendous. Yujiapu fits none of these four because it’s magic that’s bound to take you away.
OK so not quite. I got in early on the train out from Beijing South. Because I wanted to get some real work done, I travelled in Business Class (pretty much all the time, really). The journey out was not too dissimilar with the previous HSR-then-regular-rail journeys I did, except of course we now travelled on the new 350 km/h (217 mph) line, passing through Junliangcheng North station enroute. And then we parted ways, with the HSR trunk line to Northeastern China heading further northeast, whilst we stayed further east, then slightly due southeast, with Tanggu the first station that could be served.
But the bit after Tanggu was new. We went underground and of course, that could mean only one thing: Yujiapu was an underground HSR station. Of course, it was a “regular” underground station with nothing fancy such as platform edge doors, so it was just putting the train station underground rather than above ground. I didn’t have enough time to snap a pic as I got out of the train.
But still, it was an Aha kind of station, and I’d hope for there to be a chance to check it out again. Meantime, it was off to the transfers level.
Unfortunately, disaster struck: the taxi queue was having issues… what a mess! Had to leave the station outright and grab a taxi in the wild. They’re everyone’s worst nightmares: city taxis… But the good thing was I got to snap a picture of the station as it appears on the outside.
Destination first: a whole day’s lesson on Chinglish. As in what to use and not to use in public signage. I prepared this for a one-hour talk to government officials in July 2014, and the timing then was perfect. However, for me to blabber on for nearly five or six hours was quite a bit of a stretch. Nearly everyone ended up tired. Cram school-ish indoctrination. Pointless microphone hog, really (except for this time, there was no mic in use).
Still, I refused to go back to the Lecturer Position of Death!
Onward now: the trip back to the station. A look at the outside… obviously, I entered from the middle character, which stood for “home”. Always nice!
And now from the main entrance hall. Once you get in, your breath is instantly sucked away. I mean, just look at this…
Make sure you’ve your iPhone batteries full (and nope, nobody stopped me taking pictures. At all. At any time on the Chinese railway network…) as this is an amazing station.
The ticket hall is delightfully empty, after being at quite a number of stations with infernal crowds (1 hour wait at old Harbin station some years back was awful!).
I had some time to kill so exited out to a shopping centre nearby. There was a Starbucks, I checked. But apparently, government plans for this part of Yujiapu to get super-busy haven’t come into fruition yet. Oh well. Were they too ahead of the times?
And then, night fell… and that was when it looked even more gorgeous.
Still, the station called me back for more, now with all the lights on.
The dome in the centre of the waiting hall was just absolutely gorgeous, especially at night.
All the seating in the world. Plus a bit more…
And once you’re ticketed and have check in via the ticket gates, you’re all set to go.
Platform level. Six platforms. (Three islands.) A little empty right now, but always amazing.
And now for the train back to Beijing…
Yujiapu. When’s the next trip out here?… ■ ■ ■