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Nanjing

Started: 2016-03-20 10:28:42

Submitted: 2016-03-20 19:14:00

Visibility: World-readable

23 January 2016: In which the intrepid narrator departs a frigid Beijing for an only-slightly-less-frigid Nanjing

After four days in Beijing, it was time to leave the northern capital behind and catch the train back to the south to see Nanjing, China's southern capital, to spend a few days there before returning home. There were still things I wanted to see in Beijing, but they would have to wait until I returned in a warmer season.

Hotel room in Beijing
Hotel room in Beijing

The forecast called for another cold day in Beijing, so I was happy to leave the city behind to head back to the warmer south. I finished packing my bags, ate breakfast in the hotel lobby, checked out of my hotel, and caught the metro to Beijing Nan Railway Station in time to catch my 11:00 high-speed train to Nanjing.

Rail lines leading out of Beijing
Rail lines leading out of Beijing

My train was a little late pulling out of Beijing, and seemed to spend less time traveling at its full cruising speed of 300 km/hr (186 mi/hr) than the train I rode up to Beijing. I saw the same frozen Chinese countryside in reverse. I saw small cities nestled in valleys between hills, and arrays of high-rise residential buildings under construction within sight of the tracks. I saw fields bisected by brand-new concrete viaducts carrying the high-speed trains, often running along side the existing, slower-speed tracks. In some places there were new viaducts still under construction, branching off from the track I used to head to some other part of China. I noticed that the trains on the high-speed routes ran on the left, in contrast to the subway trains which ran on the right.

Concrete viaducts under construction
Concrete viaducts under construction
Concrete viaduct piers
Concrete viaduct piers

Over the Huaihe River, somewhere in the middle of China, I saw a steel truss bridge being built downriver, with trusses starting on each side of the river and falsework in place to prepare to span the river. Just before pulling into Nanjing I saw an elegant cable-stayed bridge crossing the Yangzee River

Yangtze River and Nanjing
Yangtze River and Nanjing
High-speed train on platform 1 at Nanjing Nan Railway Station
High-speed train on platform 1 at Nanjing Nan Railway Station

We pulled into Nanjing Nan Railway Station and I joined the crowd of people getting off the train rather than continuing to the last stop in Shanghai. I headed to the metro, and waited in line to buy a ticket from the row of machines, only to discover that I didn't have the right change. The only good way to get to the customer service desk was through the security checkpoint, so I waited in line, lugged my suitcase onto the conveyer belt for the x-ray machine, and emerged onto the other side. I tried to get a stored-value card for the metro, so I wouldn't have to get individual tickets every time I took the metro, but the customer service representative misunderstood my query and gave me change for my ¥50. This meant I had to go back to the ticket machines and back through security, but I did at least get my ticket.

By the time I made it to my hotel, a Novotel a few blocks from the center of Nanjing, it was early evening. I checked in (with the help of a Chinese woman whose nametag read "Jessica", plus a Chinese name in smaller type that I couldn't read), and found my room on the twelfth floor, with a good view of the buildings in central Nanjing. I headed out for supper at Element Fresh, a vegetarian-friendly restaurant a few blocks away, and returned to my hotel to plan my next day in Nanjing.

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