Sunday, August 10, 2008


Went to pick up Jodi's mom at the Shanghai South Railway Station this morning. Three observations:

1. During the Olympics, you can't enter the station itself if you don't have a ticket. Before the Olympic Games, without a ticket you could enter the building but not the departure waiting area. Now the only space available to visitors (as opposed to passengers) is the arrival hallway on the bottom floor. Thanks a lot, China Rail + Olympics.

2. The arrival hallway, where people wait for passengers arriving on trains, is made of up several wide passageways of impressive expanse — but there is not a single bench in the whole area. You notice this type of thing if you're wife is pregnant, but I'm guessing not if you're head is stuck in your ass like the designers of the South Railway Station. In fact, there are no benches in the entire train station outside of the departure area. This is exactly the same as any other backwards little train station in the Chinese countryside. To get a feel for this, here's a picture of the Express Train Station at the new Beijing Terminal 3, which from pictures I've seen suffers from the same problem:

Huge space, no benches.

This means that there's piles of luggage and passengers scattered about the floor inside and ground outside train stations all over China, which makes one wonder about a country whose leaders worry so much about its 形象 (image) so much and promised a 人文 (untranslatable?) Olympics. Thanks a lot, China Rail. (And while you're at it, could you install drinking fountains too? Thanks.)

3. The fabric and trinket market next to the Caoxi Rd light rail station (across from Ikea) has been razed and turned into a parking lot. This is a market that sold cheap, custom-made curtains and beddings sets, as well as providing drinks, snacks and DVDs to commuters making the trek between Line 3 and Lines 1/4 or the bus hub at Shanghai Stadium. Now it's a parking lot. On the other hand, the tacky and always-empty clothing, jewelry, make-up and accessory "mall" on the other side of the light rail station still stands. Thanks a lot, Shanghai municipal government + Olympics.

I often wonder if people do this stuff on purpose, but usually I fall back on Hanlon's Razor.


At Aug 10, 2008, 10:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said:

hey Micah ... the bench observation cropped up in this excellent article from called the architecture of control ...


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