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Catching a Train

 

 

During my first month in Tianjin, I was asked if I would like to meet some friends in Beijing. I hadn’t yet visited the capital of China, so this represented a great opportunity. The only problem was that my Chinese was very limited and I didn’t know anything about the layout of Tianjin Train station. However, undeterred, I made a start to my journey.



Firstly, I found a taxi and said to the driver, ‘wo yao qu na er’ [鎴戣鍘诲摢鍎縘, ‘I want to go there’ as I pointed to a picture of the train station on my phone. I later learnt that ‘train station’ is ‘huo che zhan’ [鐏溅绔橾, although in this instance, pointing at a picture sufficed!



Once I reached the main train station (on the river hei), I then noticed that there were two entrances. As I looked at the station, with the river behind me, the ticket office was on the left and the main entrance was on the right. Firstly, I headed left, where on entering the building I was inundated with electric red signs all in Chinese. There were many queues. However I found someone and after saying, ‘wo yao qu Beijing’ [鎴戣鍘诲寳浜琞 they kindly pointed me to the correct line.


After roughly a ten minute wait, I reached the ticket counter and said, ‘wo yao qu cong Tianjin dao Beijing’ [鎴戣鍘讳粠澶╂触鍒板寳浜琞 ‘I want to go from Tianjin to Beijing’. My grammar and pronunciation may not have been perfect, but the lady with whom I was speaking to understood my intentions. She then showed me a computer screen with several trains, all departing at different times. All I had to do was point at the one that I wanted; in this case, the next available train. It is worth pointing out that you MUST bring your passport when travelling by train, as this documentation is required when booking your tickets. The Chinese all have some sort of identity card that they can use when booking tickets. As foreigners do not have this piece of identification available to them, your passport is accepted instead.


After having acquired my tickets, I then went to the main entrance to the station. I queued for a few minutes before I had to put my bag through a scanner while I walked through a metal detector. Then you go up the escalator where you are presented with a barrage of different train lines. Finding my platform was much easier than I had imagined.


On the train tickets, there are some numbers. One is for you platform. There is a letter identifying which train carriage to board and then another indicating your seat number. The platform number will have a Chinese character next to it and it is very clear that this represents your platform as it appears both at the platforms and on the electronic screens overhead.


From here on, all you need to do is sit and wait until boarding commences. You then pass through a booth where your ticket is scanned, before going down an escalator and boarding the train. If in any doubt, just show a uniformed person your ticket and they will kindly point you in the right direction.


 

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