At precisely 18:57:39 on 14 January 2016, a Daxing Line train, extraordinarily crowded until Xihongmen (where they’ve a ginormous IKEA with the obligatory Costa next to it), emptied itself of all riders, yours truly included, at the Tian’gongyuan terminus. That was it. I had completed all of the Beijing Subway opened to the public. And Beijing thus became the third city in the whole wide world (after Chengdu in 2013, and London in 2015) that I had travelled on its mass transit system across all lines in revenue service.
I actually was able to pull off this stunt earlier — in April 2008 — so strictly speaking, it would have been the first such system around the planet. But then the network quintupled itself, adding since that record Lines 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, and 15, as well as the Airport Express, and Changping, Daxing, Fangshan, and Yizhuang Lines.
The new station I have absolutely come to yell for (not yell at) is Dawanglu. The city’s south HSR hub, Beijingnan (Beijing South) Railway Station, once was remotely inaccessible for CBD people — you in essence had to cram yourself onto a Line 1 train (stuffy it was!), and make yourself through the spaghetti interchange that was Xidan onto Line 4. Now, it really is a no-brainer… I can imagine nothing better than leaving the CBD onto a direct connection to the HSR hub at Beijing South, all without having to change trains halfway through. ▶
2013 is a new year for us, but this year is special — it will be the first year since 1987 where each of the four digits of the year is a different number. And that’s a hint for you to “be different” this year. Much like Apple’s former slogan, Think Different, set it out from the rest of the pack, being different and going to different places is probably the best way to start the new year right, and to give you one of those beginnings you won’t quite easily forget.
Probably the best way to start this new trip is to take to somewhere totally new on the first day itself. I still remember my first short-haul trip right on 01 January 2012, when I took the train to Langfang — not too far away, a mere 60 km outside of Beijing. But at least I got off my sofa and went somewhere. I think you can do more than just 60 km in the new year: try heading to a city or a country you’ve never been to — ideally on the first day. It’s time to get out of your comfort zone and into newer territories.
After being probably scared to death last year about “Are we going to die in 2012?”, I’m sure you’ve been scared as much as I’ve been. The good news is: We just about all survived. So here’s a thing: take into the new year and go places. ▶
I did it once at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport: we had an early flight at 06:00 in the morning. I did it again for a Beijing-Hong Kong flight, when I had to be up before 06:00 and had to be onboard for an 08:00 plane. I did it yet again for Train D53 from Beijing South to Qingdao on my first trip to that city by train.
There is something to be said about travelling early. Especially if you do this during the winter months, you feel like you’re getting some mileage already just as the sun goes up. Nightfall seems so far away, so you can easily get away with a long trip and still end up at Point B (away from Point A) halfway through the day.
There’s a compromise you have to make in order to pull this off: You have to get into bed early the day before (especially if you’re driving halfway cross the country and are leaving early). To some, that means no late night karaoke all-nighters or extended bar visits. But if you’re no night animal, that’s also no big issue for you. ▶
I was driving on the Jingshi freeway today, and the police put up this checkpoint at Doudian Service Area (it looked scary even without the compulsory checkpoint). Facing me were two signs: “Cars from other provinces and municipalities” and “Cars from Beijing”. I chose the Beijing version…
No cops stopped me (although I did get friendly stares), and I cruised through the whole checkpoint at 30 km/h. They are apparantly out to make sure that cars outside of Beijing get a permit before being allowed into the city proper. ▶