■ 23:16 (UTC+08:00), 28 JUL 2017 | CHN CHAOYANGMEN, BEIJING
The Canadian settlement of Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! shares a similarity with this post — it is one of the very few such posts on my domain to end in an exclamation mark! But it finally happened: I got to talk to hundreds and hundreds of PR crew at China Railway — particularly those doing new media posts.
For a moment I just couldn’t believe this was happening. It was just f*cking epic. (Sorry.)
OK, granted, I had spoken to rail crew about dumping Chinglish for proper English — but these were more local, confined to a particular geographic area of China. To pretty much have representatives of the entire nationwide network in front of you was not something the average, totally random mere mortal could really pull off.
Since it was for railway internal digestion, no topic was considered too sacred not to touch. (I did have my Swisscom mobile with me, tethering-ready, just in case we had to “hop on over” to the “real” Internet.) This included the difference between Chef Gordon Ramsay and two Japanese businessmen bowing in Shinjuku — probably better understood as the differences between the Western and Eastern mindsets. Apart from that, there were also other topics touched upon — including how to get your message across to foreign audiences, serving expats and visitors, but also how other rail operators (mostly in Europe) designed their sites and communicated on social media.
There’d also be a quick talk on how to convey China’s railway achievements and development goals to the outside world. Of course, we already have part of this done for ourselves: our epic HSR network, largest in the world, and at the moment, one of the fastest.
Finally, I let them into the editing room and showed them a clip from my Next Station: China documentary — Changsha Railway Station. This was a station certainly worth a look: second-most station in the country (when it was built in the 1970s), two very different styles in interior design, and just a lot of history. High speed-ish intercity trains next to conventional classics on the rails.
The response to this was insane! I briefly put my WeChat QR code onscreen (“if you’ve any questions, just ask”). I think I ended up with like 200 friend requests almost immediately. This was nuts!!
Even more unexpected was the explosion of David Feng Train Lecture Doodles. I SWEAR: I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. I’ve just a few to show you all… my favourites include the picture of me “squeezed” into a finger (love this! He or she must have sat quite a distance away…) and the one with a smiling high speed train on the right. Heck, they’re all brill… The railways… you epic best-of-the-best!… ■ ■ ■