China’s Convenient High-Speed Rail System – 高铁（gāo tié）
In week 6 of my PKU adventure, I visited a friend in Shanghai over the weekend and took the high-speed train from Beijing South to Shanghai Hongqiao Station. The booking process was so convenient 方便(fāng biàn), my Shanghainese friend recommended me to buy the ticket on WeChat, which was a quick and easy option to get tickets for the highly popular high-speed train even on a short notice. Since all tickets are usually sold out a couple of days in advance for popular weekends, I can recommend to book your高铁 ticket as early as possible. The高铁 travels with an astonishing speed of up to 350 km/h through China and reached Shanghai after only 4 hours and 26 minutes, it is the world’s longest high speed railway network with its 27.000 km total length of high-speed rail tracks.
Upon arrival in Shanghai, I discovered rental bikes from the same company that I have a subscription for in Beijing; MoBike. A very convenient way to get around the city or even campus is to subscribe to one of the popular rental companies such as Ofo or MoBike and simply unlock the bike with the QR-code scanner on your phone. Once you complete your trip, your bike simply has to be locked with the ring lock on the back wheel and off you go! It couldn’t be more convenient to rent bikes, since you can even locate he nearest bike on the interactive map in the bike rental app – definitely 方便.
In fact, the Chinese word for convenient (fang1 bian4) has become part of my daily vocabulary here in China, since your daily necessities such as supermarkets, means of transport and food places are always available in immediate vicinity.
Discovering China’s largest city by population
Shanghai is a truly international city with more than 24 million inhabitants, for most Europeans, a number too big to imagine when thinking about one city. Shanghai literally translated means on top of the sea (上海) since it is closely located to the East China Sea and hence makes a great location for transport hubs. Apart from being the largest city by population in the world, Shanghai also has the busiest container port in the world, with more than 40.000 shipping containers passing through the Shanghai port in 2017.
Fun fact: 7 out of the 10 busiest container ports worldwide are located in China…
While walking through the city, it surprisingly didn’t feel too crowded and I got to catch a glimpse of the beautiful Shanghai architecture and the Lujiazui skyline at The Bund. It’s international, bustling vibe definitely reminds me of Singapore and Shanghai’s English nickname ‘Paris of the East’ seems to make complete sense when walking along the Huangpu river with majestic buildings on both sides. At my friend’s house, I got to listen to the Shanghainese accent, which turned out to be almost a language on its own and I had trouble understanding even one word of their conversation. This shows the true diversity of Chinese dialects and reminded me of my long way ahead to reach fluency in the common Chinese language 普通话. We had some great traditional southern dishes such as the 小笼包（xiao3 long2 bao1）soup dumplings and the famous steamed crab大闸蟹(da4 zha2 xie4 ) for dinner and breakfast and were treated with such kind and welcoming hospitality at home, a truly unforgettable experience in the pearl of the orient!
After discovering my first city in the South of China, a.k.a everything south of the Yangtze river, I am looking forward to the next week back in the North of China at 北京大学.
See you later ~ 回头见[huí tóu jiàn]