Sunday, March 14, 2010

Amygdala Activation

After Obama's visit to China last fall, I heard people say that he did not experience the "real" Beijing. For example, his visits to the Great Wall and Forbidden City were unrealistic because both venues were closed to the public while he was visiting. Thus, he missed what it is like sharing those places with thousands of Chinese--a much more normal situation. I also heard comments suggesting that, to get the true Beijing, he should have taken a cab or the subway.

I may comment on taxis another time, but I have just shy of nothing bad to say about the Beijing subway system. It is cheap. Trains run frequently. Most of the time, announcements are repeated in English and most of the directional signs are translated into English.

BUT, like nearly everything Chinese, you must share the experience with mobs of people. We have been on the subway when you couldn't possibly fall over no matter how suddenly the train stopped or started. On one memorable occasion, I could barely breathe because there was no room for my lungs to expand.

I believe the subway is just a microcosm of China as a whole. You constantly feel the pressure of all those people.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:41 AM

    That makes me think of the buses in Brazil. Sometimes the inside of the bus was completely full, so you'd get a bunch of people hanging on essentially outside the bus with one foot on the entry stairs.