…19 countries, regions or territories visited.
It started when I left Beijing for Switzerland in December 1988, and it continued ever since: I’ve been in Germany since 1989 (although always on very short trips, more often than not cross-border trips from Koblenz to Waldshut), and as of late, I’ve just done something pretty big: I’ve just finished all of Greater China. The visit to Macao has meant that I’ve been to mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.
Macao has also been my first place of contact with the Portuguese language, and I think I’ve started off on the right foot. I started by translating the Portuguese part of a public service sign into Chinese (while letting my wife Tracy hide the Chinese part from my view). She says I got about 80% of it right. I’m happy… ▶
The fact that I arrived back in Beijing in late August 2000 to a China where the fastest trains were just 160 km/h (for Guangzhou, up to 200 km/h) and nationwide ticketing was not available, to the fact that the fastest Chinese trains run, as of this post, at speeds just over 350 km/h, is just purely amazing. I travelled on a 350 km/h G train sitting the wrong way, and didn’t barf: it’s a sign at just how stable the Chinese HSR network is.
But the whole network is just about a few years old. It’s still in a bit of a public beta, and it can crash — as the Wenzhou crash showed us — and when that happened it was pretty tragic. Nearly 50 lives lost, and brutal manhandling by the railway authorities, who preferred to bury people alive than to save any lives. It’s a system so paralysed by bad press, and so demented at the wrong time, that despatch ordered drivers to “go invisible” and cared less about faster trains rear-ending “invisible” trains. ▶
I’m onboard… without wireless Internet, of course, so I’m posting this later. Air China, as usual, took off late. This is just as predictable with them as the massive jams on the Jingzhang Freeway, the Western 2nd Ring Road, road blockades due to the president passing by an express passage, the colossal jams by National Highway 109 at Qinyukou, the huge jams on Tonghuihe North Road by Jianguomen Bridge, the tunnel under the Beijing West Railway Station being chronically jammed, and that mess that is Xizhimen Bridge.
I felt totally cramped onboard — and yet, amazingly, was able to get a half hour of sleep. ▶
For Apple, the first 30 years were just the beginning just some back. For me, I’m not exactly 30, but at 25, it’s still something.
Having just graduated, I thought it was time to take my car for one good cruise on the highway. And National Highway 109 it was out in western Beijing. Merely a stone’s throw away. Hit Lianhuachi East Road or Guangning Road, and there you go, way out into the west.
I can’t imagine it’ll be Games time this time next year. The kind of building and growth we’ve seen is just awesome. We’re supposed to get a new subway line coming later. But me rediscovering western Beijing’s mountains — a very Swiss thing here — is already showing me this is one very cool city. ▶
Looks like Hebei is swallowing Beijing full.
Either that, or you took Municipal Highway 209 form Nankou to Yanchi.
Sometime back, at the Yanchi Inspection Station, I saw signs leading to Changping, and that made me kind of think. I also started wondering when I saw a signpost to Yanchi in Changping. I drove too quickly, so I couldn’t back out. But I knew there was a link, of sorts, between the two.
This time, I finally nailed it. ▶
I just got back from Hainan — in a January 2006 where I seemed to be all over the place. Wasn’t it San Francisco to start things off with, then a little Hebei (especially Kalgan, or Zhangjiakou), and — now, a quick visit to Hainan?
Getting there meant doing something I had only rarely done before — get changed in a car! Leaving home in late January 2006, I had to remove a lot of layers as I went straight into the airport — as in Hainan, it would be super hot, around 30°C! The challenge upon coming back was to put them back on again in the car, as Beijing was miserably cold — single digits only!
Thankfully I didn’t make a toilet rush — my stomach was notoriously fragile. Hainan began for me when I landed at Sanya’s Phoenix International Airport. ▶