Training from ol’ smoggy
I m lucky or unlucky enough as it is to travel quite a bit around China and have seen both of Beijing main train stations more times than i care for.
The last few times i have had this pleasure have mainly been trips out of the west station 北京西站 which on a good day would ressemble the stampede at a Garth Brooks/ Hank Williams Jr/ Willie Nelson show in Texas. That place is so freaking crowded day in day out that it makes the word “crowded” feel inadequate any day of the week.
Today however, i am back at the venerable main Beijing zhan and what a stratling difference!!! The crowd is about 1/2 that of its western sister, the lines are shorter, the shops cleaner….
I m not quite sure why especially since both are home to a more or less similar number of departures, but that said, it would almost appear as if they targeted different markets and that might provide a hint of an explanation! One has trains to Tianjin, Dalian, Suzhou etc… while the other one serves as a departure point to such exotic locations as Shijiazhuang or even Taiyuan! one gets the tourists and the cool folk, the other gets the migrant workers and students.
Sitting here right now in my air conditioned cafe sipping an iced cappucino is definitely a nicer alternative than the over crowded departure hall with folks stacked up like cattle…..
So maybe that’s the new way to determine if a city in china is worth visiting: where does the train leave from?