Even when I’m doing the documentary around all railway stations across China, I return home pretty much every night. However, tonight, the journey my end is accompanied by a fair bit of video gear, plus microphones (which I don’t use except for doing livecasts), and the sound of a train happily chugging away to Southern Central China. That’s right: I’m off to visit around 20 stations — and the journey will start off from Changsha, where I’ll also get to visit Changsha’s newest railway station, Changsha West. (Tracy is off to a culture programme, which is why for the next two weeks, we’ll be in different parts of the country.)
The trip my end will be semi-live in the form of tweets, the occasional Periscope livestreaming session, and a fair bit more. ▶
Train G1067 was my best introduction to Guangzhou as I actually hopped off the plane from Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport to Guangzhou North Railway Station. The train zipped through a tunnel to central Guangzhou at 315 km/h — very much the fastest trip for me on a train going through tunnels. Before long, I was at Guangzhou South, where I had my breath taken away first before I had the chance to take the audience’s breath away with a totally smashing lineup of speakers at TEDxCanton.
I was the lead host of the entire show, along with others including Robert Kong Hai, known otherwise as @weirdchina on Twitter, and his kids (even!). There were also a few local hosts I shared the stage with. Lonnie Hodge pulled this event together with such spectacular results.
Just like TEDxGuangzhou in 2009, which I spoke at, we had a full house of over 600 in attendance, plus the usual whispering translators. Being held in the exact same venue as TEDxGuangzhou last year, it was newness in a familiar part of the world for me. I loved the late-night chatter that went all the way into the wee hours. ▶
By some weird (yet also wonderful) development of things, the media company I am an intern in has decided to send me to the city of Shenzhen — to train, as I’ve said before, beauty contest contestants. Knowing I was a Swiss-Chinese (Swiss by passport, Chinese by birth), they decided I knew enough languages — and wanted to teach these contestants mostly English, but also German, French, and Italian. (They already knew Mandarin Chinese!)
I had a rather sleepless night — I managed to be sleepless until 12:00 noon! No sweaty palms holding the mic as I told a crowd of 100 contestants how to say this, that, or the other thing, in the right language. Plus, it wasn’t the first time I was onstage: my debut was ten years back!
Then it was an afternoon nap. One of my best friends, Kevin, tried to come on the train down from Guangzhou to Shenzhen, but it didn’t work out. No problem: I got an early ride the next morning via central Shenzhen to the airport.
Shenzhen is this place that is purely mind-boggling. When I was here first in 1992 (over the border from Hong Kong), it was still a “half-baked” city, with even the airport still “too new” to be considered complete. Fast forward 14 years, and now we’ve towers, towers, everywhere. ▶