Written by: Amber’Jade Friend, Au Pair Participant
Beijing boasts any different means of transport, however, the most popular would be the Metro systems which conveniently runs throughout the city.
With trains that come through the stations every few minutes, I would still suggest avoiding them during peak hours which is the time that Beijingers take the term “Being squished like a sardine in a tin” to a completely new level.
When you were a kid, did you ever play that game called corners? Where you and your siblings or friends would line up in the back seats of the cars and all lean in the direction that the car was turning and the unfortunate ones to end up on the ends would be flattened? Now Imagine this, standing up straight on the train, when you would generally move because of the motion, during peak times you stay completely still because of being so compact by all of the bodies.
And, if you are like me and are unfortunate enough to land yourself next one of the hand railings, be prepared to go home and see yourself painted in assorted shapes and colors of bruises. Most mornings you find yourself waiting for the third or fourth train, to still be flattened like a pancake.
However, I can say that train rides like these during Chinese deathly winters tend to offer free heating and coziness from the cold until you get off the train that is.
Most of the Subway lines run underground, but if your fortunate enough to hop on a train that runs above the city be prepared to feel like you’re taking a ride through Jurassic Park. I always feel like I am riding in a rain forest when I glance out of the train windows, gliding overseas of green.
Being a foreigner in any country would usually mean confusion and getting lost, a lot, however, the metro lines have English signs for everything from warnings, to directions and ticket booths. Recharging your card is as easy as putting it into a machine which too, has the option for English.
However, if you are more the type to avoid big metal carriages and prefer to hop on a bicycle. Beijing is the perfect spot for two-wheeled transportation.
China, known as the world capital of bicycles would fail to surprise you that these bikes are able to be rented on a daily basis. You simply download one of the bike apps on your phone, sign up and are ready to China cycle your way to. Stronger legs?
It is as simple and entering the bikes pin code into the app, getting a four-digit code and then unlocking the bike. You pay RMB 1 per kilometer, although if you’re a frequent rider you tend to pay nothing most of the time.
While Chinese people have always been great inventors, they have turned the fun bike riding experience into something more exhilarating. It is almost like playing Russian Rolette with cars and bicycles. My friends and I always say that riding a bike on the streets in China is a sport that could prepare you for anything and leaves you developing incredible reflexes.
Most of the time I get nervous, I once covered my eyes while crossing a street on my bike because I was too scared to look at all the cars coming for me, although I made it across in one piece I will be sure to not do that again!
Alongside this, riding bikes through the ancient streets of China or even the monstrous cities is always an affordable and fun way to explore your surroundings and grab a taste of adventure.
Amber’Jade Friend, a South African Au Pair from Au Pair China Programme, is placed in Beijing for 6 months.
To find out more about Au Pair China Program, please click ‘Au Pair China Program‘.