Traveling in China? Have A Plan B

From the Los Angeles Times:

We arrived at the north train station in Chongqing, this central Chinese city at 12:25 p.m. on a Thursday, five minutes before our scheduled departure. The ticket lines were so long they spilled out of the building.

In a similar situation in Anhui province a couple of years ago, my research assistant and I found someone wandering outside the station whose sole task was to look for passengers in a hurry, collect their money for the ticket, plus a $2.75 fee, and then take it to one of his several friends who were in the front of the line.

This time we had no such luck. We glumly walked away from the station. There wasn’t another train departing for six hours; that would be too late to make my evening appointment in Chengdu, about 160 miles to the northwest. It was a letdown, certainly, but not a surprise. Though China is building more and better roads, travel remains a trial. Buses and trains are packed with passengers; delays are common. The transportation system’s shortcomings have spawned a more efficient, if less official, subsystem that’s often a better route — if only you can find the entrance.

April 21, 2008 9:43 AM
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Categories: Society