The trip from Guangzhou in South to Hangzhou in East is around 1200 kilometres and takes 6 hours by train. China's railway network is constantly expanding, getting faster and faster and it seems like you can travel easily between most major cities in high-speed trains.
Travelling by train through China has it's clear benefits: it's comfortable, convenient and best of all you get to see some of the countryside. When you have travelled for a little while and you're in safe distance from the polluted megacities the sky begins to clear. Now you can just lean back and watch green hills roll by between rice paddies and small towns. There is also less idyllic but equally intriguing sights: solar power parks, ghost towns & nuclear power plants. It's one big mix of tradition and industry exemplified in the views from the window seat.
Guangzhou - Hangzhou
It can be daunting when cutting through a country as big as China that you almost always can see some kind of settlement. Although China is experiencing a large scale urbanization 600 million people is still living in rural areas. Even more are living in the cities though, and the cities is so big it's hard to grasp. To put things into perspective there are 7 chinese cities that are more populous than London. Most have heard of Xiaoping's one child-policy which only recently were phased out to now where people are allowed to have 2 children. Estimates say that by 2025 China will reach population growth of zero, which will sometime in the near future inevitably make India the largest population on Earth.
Hangzhou Train Station
The modern train stations are more reminiscent of airports as they are located outside of town in futuristic structures. Like airports you also need to go through a security check at the entrance where your luggage is scanned and your ticket and passport will be checked to be sure they match up. All this means that you need to be at the station in good time for check in and security control. I don't have anything bad to say about chinese people, but queuing isn't their strong suit so it's a good idea to get in line in good time. Thankfully we have a chinese tour manager that bought all of our train tickets, otherwise it's supposed to be more difficult and you should definitely book them in advance.
The train from Hangzhou to Wuhan
Now that the tour really has kicked in there's zero time for sightseeing - or just seeing of any kind really. This really makes the train trips a welcoming break where you can feel that you actually are travelling. We've been to Hangzhou once before and if you're visiting you must visit West Lake. Here are walkways, pagodas briges and temples lined up through small gardens. The lake is one of China's most visited spots but it's quite peaceful nonetheless which can be a welcoming change. I would love to go again but there simply isn't time today.
The time table for these days are something like this:
6am - Bus to train station
7am - Check-in at train station and breakfast
8am-1pm - Train
2pm - Hotel check-in and lunch
3pm - Getin and setup at venue
4pm-7pm - Soundcheck
7pm - Dinner
9pm - Concert
1030pm - Signing session
0am - Back to hotel
Repeat - so as you can see, not much to see except venues, hotels and trains right now.
Mask-wearing audience waiting for the show to start
The venue was located inside a mall again. These big malls which seem to be everywhere are filled with international high street brands that you can find everywhere in the world. They appear as empty as some of the ghost towns we passed by on the train. The stores are mostly empty and one can't help to wonder how anyone would be able to turn a profit under these conditions. The show went great though, easily the best performance on the tour so far - really helps keep the mood up!
Next up: Wuhan
Dates left of the tour:
June 7th - Vox Livehouse, Wuhan, CN
June 8th - Mao Livehouse, Shanghai, CN
June 9th - Ola Livehouse, Nanjing, CN
June 10th - Mao Livehouse, Beijing, CN
June 12th - Legacy, Taipei, TW