And now… China!
After the wonderful time spent in Beijing, a town that will always remain in my heart and where I will return one day, today I will head to Tianjin starting this way my Chinese journey that will end in the former colonies of Macau and Hong Kong. My train doesn’t leave from the same station where I bought the ticket yesterday but from the South station: Beijingnan. I take this occasion to tell you about two Chinese words that I’ve learned: Bei and Nan that in English are North and South. Actually the name Beijing means northern capital. As you may know one of the former capitals was Nanjing that now you learned it means Southern Capital. By the way the character for the word north is also very easy to memorize: 北. Now I’m able to recognise it anytime I see it. Ok, Chinese language lesson is over. 🙂 Southern station looks more modern than the central one. I guess this one is only for fast trains. Security checks at the entrance goes smoothly. First they check luggages as in airports, then it’s time for tickets and ID. The station is so huge but in spite of this, thanks to clear signs and electronic displays, reaching the right track is not a problem. My train coded C2031 leaves at 9:37 AM reaching Tianjin, more than 100 kilometres far, just 35 minutes after. Ok, I’m not a newbie in taking trains but I have to say that everything is very well designed. The train is modern and the sit in second class, is comfortable. In a short time we reach the speed of almost 300 km/h. During the short ride there are ladies checking tickets and some policeman. I’m sitting by the window and landscape outside looks like the one I saw getting out of Beijing by bus toward the Great Walls: four-lane highways, skyscrapers, bridges. However I can’t watch it so long. I’m already in Tianjin! I discover soon that the same quality of infrastructure I’ve appreciated in Beijing is also here. Well, it should be said I’m not in a remote village. Tianjin is one of the biggest town in China having more than 6 millions inhabitants only within the urban boundaries. Metro network has at least five lines but since one is numbered #9, they’re obviously extending it. I take line #3 and then #1 to reach my hotel but I arrived there it comes out I’m in another branch of the same chain. Girl at the reception even if she doesn’t speak english is so nice to call for me a taxi and even deal with the driver the fee. After a break, it’s almost 1:00 PM when I’m ready to get out and start visiting the town.
Food streets are not all the same.
When I get out I realize that it is a very hot day with a temperature higher than 40° Celsius. In the hotel I’ve tried to plan my visit so now I know I will go in the direction of the former Italian Concession, I will tell you about it later, that is located about two kilometres from the hotel but on the way I want to stop at the Nanshi Food Street. The memories of Wangfujing Market and the day spent yesterday in Beijing are still fresh and I hope to find something similar also here. It would be perfect because I’m quite hungry therefore my disappointment is great when I find out that the street is actually a kind of mall and that is also almost empty. No stalls with fresh food, no small restaurants. The best depiction of the place is in the picture I took with a waiter behind the window of an almost empty restaurant with a fly swatter in her hand staring into space. In the end the only food I buy is a kind of black sugar ginger cubes, in Chinese it should be 黑糖姜母砖块. I’m not even sure that they should eaten raw as I’m doing but ok, I do not argue, I’m too hungry. Probably due to the hot weather, streets are pretty deserted but I usually do not suffer too much for it and so, quite quickly, I reach what it seems to be the historical centre of the town.This post continues to next page