380A. Or, also called He Xie. I’m not referring to computer intelligence in the spirit of Hal 9000 of Stanley Kubrick’s film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
What I’m talking about is the fastest train in the world, known as 380A or He Xie. China unveiled their plans to build this ambitious high-speed train in April 2008.
China was a meager player until the Olympics swept through, opening its doors to the world stage. Certainly manufacturing had been cultivated there for years, yet I always saw China as a quietly, closed country. Then, in 2008, something magical happened. A spotlight was shed on China and the country stepped into the limelight with vigor – brimming with new ideas.
This train is a harbinger of enthusiastic invention, a bright light. So, maybe my reference to Hal 9000 is not far off the mark. As technology and investment continue to permeate China’s economic borders, I’m personally excited to see how much this country changes.
After we spent a fruitful day at the Great Wall in Beijing, we woke the next day with the knowledge that we were about to ride the fastest train track from Beijing to Shanghai, which incidentally, clocks an average speed of 380 km/hr.
Once again, Andy, our tour guide from the Wall and our driver, Mr. Wei, met us that morning to show us the way.
I was sad to part with Andy and Beijing.
After the Wall, I crashed from hunger and exhaustion. Yet, I was still exhilarated from experiencing the Wall. Instead of going straight to Happy Dragon Courtyard Hostel, Andy suggested a local restaurant called Alley, far from the tourist traps in Badaling. At first, I was ravenous, bordering on grumpy, but Andy’s suggestion lifted my mood significantly.
The old sections of Beijing are constructed of narrow alleyways that teem with local businesses, swaying laundry lines, children playing, parked scooters and laughter. Alley is one of these local places, with roots to the community. Another architectural feature of these heritage residences are the courtyards that split a household. These courtyards were used for small gardens, or as a gathering place for meditation or tea time.
Alley is a prime example of this. This former household, now restaurant, is Beijing’s hidden treasure. It’s family owned, once run by the mother and father, now run by their children – a brother and sister.
We all agreed on the last day of the Trans-Manchurian that what we wanted most was spicy food, a stationary bed and a shower.
Andy delivered on the first item.