You’re awesome, really! With your seven lines covering the whole city I can easily get everywhere I want to for just 2 yuans for a ride. And you’re so well marked that I’m not running around, trying to find my way, it’s enough to look around and everything is just there. Plus you’re really well organized, really!
But here comes the hate part. These people, seriously! I just don’t get it, they’re all nice and helpful outside of metro but once they get under ground they’re mad. It’s like Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hide!
First annoying encounter comes when buying tickets. There’s a perfectly fine queue and suddenly people start pushing in front of the ticket window. And no one really reacts, just keep waiting in the line… It happens to me every time I was waiting in some queue as apparently it’s not only a metro thing, it’s any queue thing… After second time of that I started fighting my way as well and since I’m bigger than most Chinese people I usually win (oh, what a stupid satisfaction!).
And then there’s the metro ride itself that drives me crazy and makes me stressed more and more each time I take the metro… On the floor there’re signs telling where the door of the train will be and pointing where people should stand so first passengers can leave. And sure, people stand in their marked positions. But as soon as the train arrives the whole pushing starts… People try to leave but at the same time others try to get in and it’s kind of a fight who has more strength… What’s even more (and what drives me crazy back at home too but it’s nothing in comparison to here) is that when people get to the train they just stand next to the door. And when the train comes to the station they don’t move at all, just stands like they’re enchanted. When you say “excuse me” to them it’s like they’re deaf (and I’m not only saying about foreigners, when Chinese ask it doesn’t work as well). So when there’s a station it’s like a battlefield. I’ve seen people falling out of the train or to the ground in this fight only because they were stupidly standing in the middle of the door and didn’t want to move even an inch. What’s more on busier stations there’re metro workers with loudspeakers who yell at people encouraging them to get in faster and push their way harder. I haven’t seen something like that before!! I’ve seen busy metros, so far the busiest was in Kiev but it was really nothing in comparison than that!
So yes, Beijing metro is quite an experience. It may be shocking at first seeing these scenes but after getting used to it and finding your own ways to use it you’ll enjoy it as much as I do!
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And here’re some useful facts about Beijing metro:
* every time you get to the metro station your bag will get scanned like it gets at the airport (but without taking out belt, mobile phone etc, they scan only bags). The line goes really fast here.
* each metro ride costs 2 yuans. You get the ticket from the machine (I failed at that, they have only Chinese version and the machine always gave me my money back so I guess I did something wrong) or from the seller at the ticket window. You can change metro lines within the ticket you purchased. So traveling around the city may be fast and cheap when using the metro
* the ticket itself is a plastic card that you clock in at the metro gate. keep it with you as you’ll have to put it in the gate once you have to get out of the metro.
* on every station there’re maps with the whole metro system in Beijing, signs telling in which direction the metro is going (and there’s always one platform so you chances you’ll get in the wrong train are very slim) as well as maps with the area around stations. Each exit is marked with letters and you can see on the map which one suits you the best, then just follow direction to that exit.
* inside the train there’s a map of the line stops with light telling you where you’re, what the next stops are and to which line you can transfer there. There’re also announcements in English
* every now and then you’ll hear announcements like “to maintain a healthy and clean environment please do not eat, drink or smoke in this train”, “please take care of your children and your belongings” etc. I find them amusing.
* there’re a lot of security officers at the stations so I felt really safe there. If you ask them for the directions they’ll be ready to help to!
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