Monday, June 28, 2010

Jiangsu, part 1: Through Changzhou to Nanjing

One of Chunlin's coworkers picked us up in Shanghai and drove us to Changzhou, the location of Chunlin's company's plant.

Leaving the city, the apartment buildings step down from twenty stories to fifteen to ten to seven to four and it all seems rather sudden. Empty office buildings. Trees. Warehouses. Still in Shanghai. Fields. Old houses.

There's a cluster of skyscrapers near the tollbooth to leave Shanghai, then it gets quite rural again.

On the Huning Expressway, the lanes have the following speed limits from left to right: 120 max 110 min, 120 max 90 min, 120 max 60 min. Trucks and buses 100 max. A big sign for no sleeping while driving. That's a good rule.

Zip by Suzhou without really seeing anything but buildings on the horizon.

Changzhou. Into the heart of town to buy train tickets -- for the 1:27 p.m. to Nanjing. Chunlin's boss arranged to have her coworker pay for our train tickets from Changzhou to Nanjing and on to Huangshan. Chunlin tried to pay him back, but no.

Changzhou seemed the same size as Seattle, but it's probably bigger. BRT down the middle of the street. Drivers and pedestrians were just as crazy here as in Shanghai. A pair of people walked down the middle of a divided road, in the fast lane, as if it was a sidewalk.

We headed out of town to a business park. Here was Jimmy's building. "Rim Rim Rim Rim..." it said across the front windows.

Chunlin and her coworkers were happy to meet each other. Much laughter. She got a tour of the plant while I waited in a lounge. Outside, it was lunchtime. Workers from all the businesses sat and stood in the shade of the small trees, walked down the sidewalk in pairs or threes, enjoying the sunny day.

We didn't have time for the big lunch Chunlin's coworkers had planned. It took too long to get everything together and leave Shanghai, I suppose. This wasn't really a problem for us, however, since we'd had many large meals lately, but I felt sorry for her coworkers who missed out since our schedule was so tight.

12:25 go go go! Two coworkers took us to a quick noodle lunch and then off to the train station.

Construction everywhere in China. This building was across the street from the noodle house. I took the photo from the car as we turned around, in a rush.
j2 - Chángzhōu Construction

When we got near the train station, we hit a red light and decided to hop out and run. Chunlin's coworker pushed her way through the crowd and we followed a bit nicer.

At the security line at the station entrance, I paused for no more than a second to snap a photo of the city.
j3 - Chángzhōu Train Station Plaza

And then we ran inside. The waiting area had a queue for our train, filing out onto the platform. A sign proclaimed our train would be seven minutes late, and thus we had time to go to the restroom...

We said zaijian to Chunlin's coworker, joined the push to board the train, and found our seats. We both had window seats, with me facing backwards. Full train.
j4 - Chunlin on the Train in Chángzhōu

And away we went, zooming through the countryside. Fields zipped by, with occasional clusters of two- or three-story houses. Construction all around, yet deterioration all around. Maintenance is hit-and-miss.

This route is going to be on the Shanghai-to-Beijing high-speed rail line. Construction of bridges and stations all along.
j5 - Underpass Construction

j7 - Building the Nánjīng High-Speed Rail Station

j6 - Nánjīng Train Station

It wasn't very long before we arrived in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu Province and sometimes the capital of China.

Skyscrapers in an ancient town.
j8 - View from Nánjīng Station

I didn't expect that. My guidebook didn't mention skyscrapers at all.
j9 - Nánjīng across Xuanwu Lake
But then again, the really tall one, the Nanjing Greenland Financial Center was only completed a month before we saw it (and more than a year after the guidebook was written). I'm sure they'll mention it in the next edition, since it's the seventh tallest building in the world!

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