Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Chengdu Metro System and CRH Train

Morning, Day 4 (25th October 2012)

The destinations today were Dujiangyan, followed by Mount Qingcheng. After an early breakfast, I took a taxi for RMB10 to Tianfu Square with the intention of taking the metro to North Railway Station. The taxi driver asked me why I was so early at it was just 6:00 a.m. I just chuckled and did not reply. When I reached there, the metro station at Tianfu Square has not opened yet. It was still dark. I walked around the square until it opened at about 6:35 a.m.

I went two levels down to the metro ticketing machine. I set the display menu to English and punched in my destination. It worked on the first screen but failed to respond on the second screen. I asked the policeman manning the gate for help as he was the only person around. He pressed the second screen but there was nothing wrong with it. I guessed I did not press the icon on the screen properly. The machine also refused to accept my RMB5 note. The policeman asked me for another note. Thanks to him, I got my ticket. The machine worked exactly like our MRT system in Malaysia or Singapore.

After getting the ticket, the policeman gestured and asked me to enter the gate. I said I wanted to go to the washroom and he said it was on the first level. My stomach was grumbling a little bit and I did not want anything bad happening while in Dujiangyan. On entering the washroom, I hesitated to do my business. Although it has individual compartment, the door height was only at chest level. I was not allowing the world to watch me doing my business. However, on second thought, if I did not go through with it now, worse fact awaited me if my stomach decided not to cooperate while I was on the way. Seeing that there was no one in the washroom yet (it was still early), I quickly took my chance and did my business in a pubic lavatory the first time in my life in China.

The ride to North Railway Station went smoothly. However, the large railway station was posing problem for me. There were so many people and everything was written in Chinese. I did not know what to do. There were two large building, one with the sign in Chinese and the other with "Chengdu Railway Station".

I walked into the building in Chinese with train schedules and people queuing up. It must be the ticketing office but there was no English sign. I was hesitant to queue up, not wanting to take the risk of being turned away later for being in the wrong line.

I decided to walk to the other building. Lucky me! I was in luck. I saw Information Office. I went over to the lady on duty at the counter and inquired where to buy the ticket to Dujiangyan. She could barely answered me in English and took out an A4 size notice with an arrow pointing to the first building and the word "100 m" written on it, at the same time mumbling nothing helpful. Well, so much for the help from the Information Office. I tried to get a little more information out of her but she kept pointing to the next building with the A4 card.

Anyway, I got the message, went over to the next building and hoped to inquire some more from whoever could help. I went to a counter with a policewoman behind it talking to someone, thinking that all police are kind and helpful people. I inquired but was totally ignored both times I asked. She wasn't even looking at me. So, I went to another counter saying I wanted to go to Dujiangyan. She said, "8:30 a.m." and asked for the passport while I was giving her my money. She promptly issued me the ticket.

I went back to the building with the English sign. There were long queues outside the building, with the policemen manning the entrance checking documents of passengers. I guessed this was the departure terminal building. I went over to the entrance and asked the young policemen there whether this was the place to wait for departure to Dujiangyan. One of them asked something from me but I did not catch him. His colleague said "pass" and pointing to the passport number on the ticket. I realised that he wanted to see my passport. After verifying my identity, I passed through the entrance answering that I am a Malaysian when one of them asked me where I was from.

I asked him also where the departure gate was and he mumbled something saying "two". I thanked them. After the security check (like those at the airport), I went to Line "2". Upon presenting my ticket to the gateman, he said it was "D6105" pointing to the LED display at the other end of the waiting hall. My line was not "two" but line no. 5 with "D6105", the route number.

From there onward, it was a matter of making correct guesses and following the crowds to get into the CRH, China Railway High-Speed train.

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