Although we started class on Dec. 31st, teachers were kind enough to give us Jan. 1st off so we could ring in the new year at ease.
Today, was mostly about transportation. I feel that if you want to get to know a city, you have to know its transport: how do you get around? And by learning transportation, one also learns the districts/neighborhoods/etc. of a city. A knowledgeable San Franciscan can tell you the main bus arteries are the 1 California going East/West, the 43 Masonic going North South, and the 22 Fillmore takes you pretty much anywhere in the city as long as you stay on long enough.
So my goal for today was to learn the transport. Going to New Years festivities downtown, I took a cab with a bunch of other students. The issue with taxis in Beijing is only that of the issue with cabs everywhere else: you don’t know if they are taking you in circles or not. Beijing cabs are unlike Guangzhou or Shantou (where I was a couple years ago) where you need to haggle the metered price. You simply need to know enough that you’re not being driven around just to run up the meter.
The subway in Beijing is very easy and simple. 2 RMB anywhere. There are very few subway lines so it’s hard to get lost since the map consists of a circle with a line through it. It was incredibly crowded on the subway today with hired “pushers” to make sure the doors can close. I was impressed because these “pushers” also ensure that some sort of lining up occurs (otherwise it’s just who can push the hardest). It was very orderly considering the amount of people today.
As long as you know what bus you want to take, buses are a tried an true way of getting around. Yes, it takes forever with Beijing traffic but overall, just pop in some headphones and try not miss your stop. Crowds on the bus ranged in size from a handful to packed but it got me within three blocks of my intended destination.
Picture of the Day: A few days ago, some students wanted to take the 105 bus downtown to eat. They never found out where it was but I remembered the number. Today, I happened upon the 105 bus line entirely by chance and decided to see if it would take me back to campus and, luckily, it did. Bus announcements are only in Chinese while subway announcements are also in English.