I used to be a subway person in Beijing (in all three senses of the word: the US subway as in a train system; the UK subway as in underground passageways; and Subway as in the sandwich joint). Beijing’s main reason for getting me this addicted to its underground city metro system was that it was expanding all the time — and to ride one you did not need to break the bank.
At CNY 2.— for unlimited mileage (as long as you stayed inside the city), it was one of the cheapest systems in the world. No longer, though: a majority approved changes that would see starting fares a la Shanghai (CNY 3.— instead of CNY 2.—). The rates being proposed are not cheap!
- Starting fare: CNY 3.—, good for 6 km
- Mileage between 6 km and 12 km: CNY 4.—
- Extra CNY 1.— per 10 km for distances from 12 km to 32 km
- Extra CNY 1.— per 20 km for distances from 32 km onwards
This is all way too complex, and no rider will have an idea how much money he or she will have at the end of the trip.
What Beijing needs is a carbon copy of London’s fare zones.
London’s fare zones are complex, and in at least two of these zones, “special fares apply” (especially if you head up to Watford on the Overground or National Rail trains). But Beijing’s can be much easier to ascertain: just use the rings! ▶
During Mao’s era of the communist planned economy back in the 1960s, it simply was not right for locals to drink Coke. Thoroughly condemned by Zhongnanhai as an invasive, capitalist bubbly aquatic theories concocted by the “US imperialists” (as the rhetoric had it then), you simply were unable to get Coke in Peking — lest you had a passport (most likely a foreign one), which granted you access to the country’s few-in-number Friendship Stores (for those who lived in or visited the former East Germany, the Intershops would also ring a bell here). Only there could you purchase the American species — locals would be sipping away on the Chinese variant of Fanta and Co — fizzy drinks from Bei Bing Yang (北冰洋), known otherwise as Arctic Ocean Drinks — the stuff of legend around the Jing. (The bear that emblazons these bottles has earnt it my sympathy and devotion — I just love that creature.)
Two variants of fizzy orange — known locally as ju zi (橘子) or cheng zi (橙子) — would be made available. Locals would sip away, at times with a straw (where available), and at around 248 millilitres a bottle, it would probably quench your thirst — although more often than not, like its equivalent in the Western Hemisphere, it’d probably leave you quenching for more. Over 50 years later, the makers have not only re-introduced it to Beijing (probably due to too much competition from other fizzy drinks makers, Bei Bing Yang / Arctic Ocean Drinks were taken off shelves in the 1990s, not to reappear for probably another two decades or so), but as both Tracy and I found out today, introduced two very new flavours that we found about a minute away from the new Subway Line 8 station at Shichahai, Beijing — Suan Mei (酸梅), in essence, sour plum — and Pi Pa (枇杷), as in loquat. ▶
I don’t often start posts with quotes, but here’s one to kick off with:
In real life, we talk fake stuff with our real names. On the Internet, we talk real stuff with our fake names.
Although yours truly is an advocate of the Real-Name Blogging system (he uses real names on all of his blogs, as well as on other blogs including CN Reviews), he realizes that maybe not everyone wants to use their real names. Even for things as “non-polit” as the time-and-again-delayed opening of Beijing’s new Subway lines, there’s that bit of laoli laodao (唠呖唠叨), or yak yak yak, that is best kept anonymous (one of the recent comments, “the authorities fooled us again!”, is better kept anonymous — China Internet veterans would know why). ▶