jump to navigation

懷舊絲路自由行 – 烏魯木齊-吐魯番-柳園 October 8, 2018

Posted by hslu in China, Travel, 一帶一路, 中國.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

蘭新高鐵是接連甘肅蘭州和新疆烏魯木齊的高鐵。這一段高鐵是在2014年通車的,可惜它不經過敦煌。想去敦煌得在柳園下車,再坐出租車或公車去敦煌。

 

蘭新高鐵從甘肅蘭州開始,經過河西走廊,過哈密,吐魯番到烏魯木齊,全長1786公里。蘭新高鐵完工以後,從上海或北京可以經過鄭州,轉京彊高鐵,到西安,過蘭州,就可以到烏魯木齊了。

烏魯木齊飛機場

蘭新高鐵的工程艱難,困難度高,2009年11月開工,2014年12月底聖誕節的時候全線通車。全線最高點在祁連山二號山洞(連接甘肅和青海)。這個山洞全長9.49公里,最高海拔4,345公尺,(14,251 英尺),是全世界最高的山洞。全線最長的橋是位於新疆哈密的立交特大橋。它全長19.3公里,一共有 584 個橋孔。蘭新高鐵一路上的地理情況非常複雜:它有黃土高原,戈壁沙漠,四大狂風區,炙熱的吐魯番盆地,終年積雪的萬尺高山和低於海平面的深凹山谷。我們坐在舒適的高鐵車廂裏,看著車外的景色以每小時250公里的速度往後飛馳,那裏知道這些工程師必須面對的挑戰和修路人必須克服的的困難?我們那裏知道蘭新高鐵全線最高的傾斜度只有2度,我們坐的車廂必需能夠忍受常年超強的紫外線,滿天飛舞的黃沙和嚴寒的大風大雪呢?不過,在高鐵上最好不要買東西吃。大多數都是零食。還有,大陸高鐵的便當比臺灣的鐵路便當要難看,要難吃的多,還不便宜。

 

這是高鐵便當。付湯。不好吃。只有豆莢好吃。

我們從烏魯木齊出發,本來以為可以在路上看到達坂城一帶很大,很有名的風力發電區,沒想到我坐在動車的左邊,從烏魯木齊到吐魯番全程都被三公尺高的鋼筋混泥土擋風牆擋到了。結果這一路上除了不同結構的擋風牆以外,什麼都沒看到。

吐魯番北附近的一個爛尾樓。

天山東段

西方媒體往往批評中國蓋了太多公路和鐵路,浪費太多錢,借了太多債,沒有好好的支配投資資金。他們說,這些基礎建設借的錢太多,根本沒辦法把投資的錢賺回來。一般來說,大多數西方分析家的通病是他們太短視,太無知,只知道用資本主義的觀點來看今年,看明年,大不了最多看五年投資報酬率的結果。他們以為,中國化這麽多錢,到處蓋公路,蓋鐵路,蓋飛機場只是為了增加就業機會,提高當年或下一年的 GDP 用的。他們怎麽知道,治國是個百年的大計劃,蓋一條公路和鐵路是為了以後的五十年或一百年用的。再說,如果國家不蓋這條蘭新高鐵,投資者怎麼會來烏魯木齊或河西走廊的重鎮投資,觀光客怎麼會來西域觀光,外地人怎麼會來烏魯木齊或其他西域城市謀生創業?沒有這些基礎建設,新疆和甘肅的經濟如何能夠提升,人才,資金和資源怎麼會來西域各地呢?還有,沒有實質的經濟發展和生活水準的提升,沒有好的就業機會,新疆的種族之爭怎麼能夠解決呢?

 

還有,如果這些實體經濟的債務大多數是人民幣的債務,那中國政府爲什麼不能控制這些債務呢?你看日本政府,雖然它的債務目前已經是日本 GDP 的246%,明年國家的收入有24%左右用來付利息,買日本國債的人還不是到處都是。再說,中國的國家債務只是國家 DGP 的 17.5%左右。(依據wikipedia,2017年第二季)

Source: Wikipedia, National debt vs GDP

看來我又是杞人憂天。自作多情了。

從柳園到敦煌這段路有130公里,開車要兩個鍾頭。一出柳園南(高鐵站通常在城市的名稱後面加一個東,南,西或北來跟慢車和快車鐵路車站區分)就有不少司機問我要不要去敦煌,我都沒有理他們。我知道這時候柳園車站的人很少,我可以很快的拿到從柳園去嘉峪關的車票。這樣子等我五天後回柳園,就不需要排隊跟人家擠半個鍾頭去拿票了。果不其然,售票小姐很客氣,票一下就拿到了。

 

等我拿了票出來,天上下著小雨,太太拿著行李,在出站口跟一位五十來歲的先生講話。太太說他可以開車帶我們去敦煌。我跟他交談了幾句,知道他已經在這條路上開了十幾年的出租車了。我見他誠懇,老實,沒有年輕人那種浮躁的心情,我就問他要多少錢,他說¥200塊錢。我當時就說好,因為這跟網路上說的價錢差不多。我只要求他安安穩穩的帶我們去敦煌就好了。五十多歲的老司機比二十五歲的少年郎要可靠,你說是嗎?

快到敦煌時我就問他,要不要明天(禮拜天)或禮拜二帶我們去附近的景區。他說他住在瓜州,只做柳園-敦煌這一段。他可以介紹他住在敦煌的妹妹明天來敦煌山莊接我們。我很高興。這下子,敦煌附近的交通問題也解決了。我又問他,我禮拜四要回柳園,他能夠來敦煌接我嗎?他說可以,不過早上十點要離開,才有時間接上從柳園出發的高鐵去嘉峪關。我欣然接受。

大功告成。可以安心的安排去景區玩的事和享受敦煌的風景和美食了。

真好。

從柳園到敦煌一路上下著小雨,天陰陰的。除了遠方的祁連山以外,只有沙漠陪伴著我們。一路上司機先生給我們介紹敦煌市區的概況和附近的農產品。一路還看到施工的痕跡,他說政府正在興建從柳園去敦煌的高速公路,兩年以後可以通車。

別以為這段路看起來荒郊遍野的,你仔細的看,它有不少活動在默默的發生。

柳園附近的瓜州一盛產哈密瓜出名。許多農民在柳園-敦煌的路上賣瓜。

農民大多數用拖拉車運送哈密瓜。所以才回有這種修理廠。

四五個人從拖拉車把哈密瓜往大卡車上裝。大卡車把整車的瓜運到烏魯木齊,敦煌或西安賣。

站在邊上看農民切瓜的是宋師傅,我們的司機。他買了一個哈密瓜給我們。我不知道一個哈密瓜多少錢。一個哈密瓜七八磅重,我們是絕對吃不完的。到柳園車站以後,我們把半個瓜給一個六口之家。我們在去嘉峪關的路上吧瓜吃了。甜,脆,清香,水多,好吃。無怪乎哈密瓜這麼有名。

這是柳園-敦煌路上的工程車。

這是哈密瓜田。已經被棌過了。還有幾個在地上。

你看這裏一望無際,乾旱平坦的大地。要是這裏下雨多好。這裏下雨就可以生產大量的黃豆,玉米,小麥和高粱了。那該有多好啊。美國中部的 Nebraska 州,Iowa 州和 Kansas 州也都是平坦無比。美國出口大量的農作物都是靠這幾州。不過,你仔細看,看到風力發電機了吧。照相的時間是2018年8月9號,早上11點08分25秒。

這是我在柳園 – 敦煌這條路上照到的最後一張有風力發電機的相片。時間是:2018年8月9號,早上11點26分14秒。兩張相片相隔18分鐘。我們的計程車的速度是~90 公里/小時。也就是說這個風力發電場差不多有30公里寬。

橋墩。

公路兩邊的護牆。這裏不下雨。護牆上沒有草,沒有任何植物。就靠這些模型的東西保持它的完整性。

灑水車。

修路公司的砂石場。

大陸有些車子可以加汽油,也可以加壓縮天然氣。車子進加油站是,我們不能跟進去,必須在加油站外面等到。加完了氣/油以後我們才能回車上。

高速公路承包公司。

加油站。

變電所。新疆有很多發電站。電都是運送到東邊沿海的城市。

不知道爲什麼有一個氧氣公司在柳園。

柳園南站。柳園站就是普通快車和慢車的車站。加個東,南,西或北就是高鐵或動車站。

柳園南沒什麼餐館,只有買雜貨的兩個店面。我們跟其他人一樣,買個生力面當中飯。

別小看這個不起眼的柳園南。來這坐動車的還真多。大多數都是去蘭州或烏魯木齊的遊客。

只是等行李安檢的遊客。排隊進車站。外面還有一些人等着檢查身份證的。

CRH 高鐵車廂。

 

懷舊絲路自由行 – 策劃 August 31, 2018

Posted by hslu in China, Travel, 中國.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment

從小學開始,我就不喜歡唸歷史,因爲我記不得也懶得記。上歷史課只是為了要考六十分,用來交差的。漢武帝,張騫,衛青,霍去病等等這些跟絲路有關的歷史名人我都唸過。我雖然不記得他們那年生,那年死,但是,這些人的故事和事蹟隱隱約約的留在我心中,令我嚮往,讓我思念。可是,在那些歲月裏,我們在臺灣,書本上講的東西都在海的那一邊。在“反攻大陸,解救同胞”的口號中,這些中國的歷史名人和文物離我實在好遠,好遠。

地理嘛,我也不喜歡。因為我記不得那個省的省會在那裏,也記不得它有什麼山,有那條河,有什麼特別的產物,有什麼美好的風土人情。至於河西走廊的重鎮,敦煌的莫高石窟,大漠的孤煙,駱駝的銅鈴,祁連山的莊嚴,嘉峪關的雄偉,玉門關的淒涼,我摸不到也看不到。我只能在書本裏,在圖畫中和在詩句間勾畫出一個模糊影子,編輯出一個飄渺的畫冊。不過,我對跟絲路有關的詩句,吐魯番的美酒,新疆的哈密瓜,三藏法師被困在火焰山和佛教經由絲路東傳的軼事和傳聞卻很有興趣。我對絲路零碎的記憶,一知半解的認知和悄悄的嚮往,默默的埋在我的心中。

後來,我在臺灣念完了大學,當完了兵,放下了”還我河山”的標語,丟下了”精忠報國”的口號,去了美國。在美國那個陌生的環境裏唸書,結婚,成家,做事,養兒,育女,退休,變老。日復一日,年復一年,為了家,為了孩子,為了生活,為了柴米油鹽而打拼,奮鬥。以前那個模糊的絲路影子早就被拋到九霄雲外了。

數十個年頭過去了。臺灣變的有錢了。共產黨卻破產了,大陸開放了,政策改變了。我在1985年聖誕節陪著媽媽回大陸看外婆,看親人,看我的老家,也看到了以前在書本裏描述到的上海,讀到的江南,唸過的寒山寺和嚮往的黃鶴樓。一下子,已經忘記的歷史和地理突然的就回到我的腦中,激動的情緒,久久無法放下。我記得的那個神秘的絲路,變成一部慢動作的電影一樣,一股腦的湧上了心頭。

這就是我為什麼想去絲路看一看,瞧一瞧,走一走的前因和後果。

對我來說,敦煌是絲路一行的首選。莫高窟的千年壁畫,鳴沙山的飛舞黃沙,月牙泉的新月綠洲是一定要去的。火焰山的鐵扇公主當然要去拜訪,看孫悟空是如何帶著三藏師傅和師弟走過這個熱火爐也是絲路旅遊的必經之地。其他像烏魯木齊,嘉峪關,玉門關,陽關,張掖,武威,酒泉,天水都要親自的去走一走。絲路懷舊之旅最後的一個景點是西安。雖然我們已經去過西安,看過兵馬俑和華清池,不過這個曾經是中國十三朝的古都有太多的歷史遺蹟和故事,我們怎麽能夠錯過呢?

既然決定要去,那就開始計劃吧。

在討論我們的旅遊計劃以前,我必須把一些我們在大陸的經歷簡單的說一說,講一講我們為什麼”“自己去大陸旅遊:

我和媽媽第一次去大陸是在1985年的聖誕節。共產主義還是大陸的中心思想。在商店裏買東西沒人願意理你,在餐館吃包子,在大學的食堂吃大鍋飯要糧票和油票。上海晚上沒有多少路燈,許多小街小巷子裏一片漆黑。家家戶戶只有一兩盞暗暗的燈泡散發出懶懶的黃光。腳踏車到處都是,街上行人沒有什麼笑容,身上穿的只有黑,灰和深藍的棉襖,長褲和中山裝。鄉下老家的環境很差,電時有時無,大豬小豬在飯桌下跑來跑去,廁所只是槐樹下圍起來的的一個大坑。大學教授一個月拿人民幣120元,工人的薪水只有人民幣100元。大陸經濟蕭條,人民生活落後,整個社會沒有生氣。那時候的大陸給我的感覺除了好奇以外,就只有恐懼和不安。

數年後,大陸開放了不少。我們帶孩子去大陸游江南,遊長江,看三峽,去武漢,看北京。那時候,大陸依舊是一個陌生,沒有秩序,髒亂,落後,見錢眼開的地方。後來,我們又去過大陸幾次。我們感覺到也看得到,大陸逐漸的變了。隨著黃浦江邊高樓大廈的興起,人民素質也慢慢的改變了。衣服漂亮了。口紅擦起來了,連假睫毛都能夠在徐家匯的街頭看到。2008年以後,我們去大陸一共二十多次,我們對大陸的感受從排斥,到懷疑,到接受,到習慣,到歎為觀止,到來去自如,到自由自在。慢慢的,上海已經成為我們出門在外的半個家了。

也就是說,我們這兩個六,七十歲的老人已經擁有自由行的條件了。

好吧,廢話少說,言歸正傳,來說一說我們的懷舊絲路自由行吧。因為這是自由行,什麼事情都要自己做:怎麽去,去那裏,住那裏,吃什麽,看什麽,車票,門票,電瓶車票,導遊,全都要靠自己。沒人給我們提行李,也有沒有人早上叫我們起床。累了就少去一個地方。肚子餓了,就找個餐館吃飯。自由自在,好不愜意。

 

行程必需先決定

自由行沒有參加旅行團方便。跟着旅行團走,大巴士帶着你從一個景點的門口到下一個景點的門口,票已經有了,你只要跟着排隊就可以了。其他時間,你只要睡覺,上廁所,吃飯,喝水,停,聽,看,吃飯,睡覺。其他時間,你不見得看得到導遊,只能跟着導遊的旗子走。旗子要你停,你就停,旗子走你就走。導遊要你吃飯你就吃飯。幾點集合就幾點集合。你不用動大腦,不用擔心。這也沒什麼不好。自由行那什麼都要靠自己。走一趟絲路一行打算去那幾個城市,每個城市要停留多久,那一天去那個景點,每個景點需要停留多少時間,交通如何安排,由旅館來回要多久時間,晚上去那裏逍遙,去那裏吃飯都需要先決定才能訂旅館,買火車票和預訂景點的門票。這要想決定才能辦其他的事。

所這是我們這一趟絲路旅遊的行程:

7/14 – 7/30         上海             

7/31 – 8/02         烏魯木齊         3 個晚上

8/03                   吐魯番             1 個晚上

8/04 – 8/08        敦煌                 5 個晚上

8/09 – 8/10        嘉峪關             2 個晚上

8/11 – 8/12        張掖                2 個晚上

8/13                  武威                1 個晚上

8/14                  蘭州                1 個晚上

8/15 – 8/16      天水                 2 個晚上

8/17 – 8/20       西安                4 個晚上

8/21 – 8/24      上海                4 個晚上

8/25                 回臺灣

 

旅館不用太著急的去訂

這個比較容易解決。手機上有很多 APP 可以去網絡上訂房間,很方便,很好用。如果你不在乎住什麼樣的旅館,不在乎多付一點錢,你前一天晚上訂下一站的旅館都來得及。可是,你需要注意以下幾點:

1。許多大陸的小旅館只接受中國旅遊網路,例如攜程 (cTrip),上的預訂。如果你在旅遊旺季經由美國的旅遊網絡,例如 hotels, kayak, tripadvisor and agoda, 等等,訂了房間,就算你已經從網路上收到了確定的資料,等你到了旅館還有可能沒有房間給你住。這些小旅館接待的外國客人不多。他們的訂房系統並不是直接跟美國的網路連線的,有些是經過一個中間網站轉遞來你的訂房要求,可是中國中轉站的訂房系統並不是很牢靠。當旅館的職員跟你說他沒有收到你的預訂,你除了跟他爭執,打電話給訂旅館的網站求助,幾乎一點其他辦法都沒有。我們在敦煌就經歷了這個情形,我會在別的篇幅裏敘述我們的經驗給你參考。

2。通常,中國旅遊網站給的價錢比較好,選擇也比較多,價錢便宜的旅館,就是那種沒有自己浴室,大家一起睡通艙的旅館尤其多。攜程,也就是 cTrip.com,是中國人出外旅遊最常用的一個網站。對外國的遊客來說,cTrip.com 已經改成 trip.com,網站上已經都是英文了 。Agoda.com 是我常常用的另外一個網站。它先前專門經營亞洲的旅館,很早就被 priceline.com 買去了,而 priceline 是 booking.com holdings 下面的一員大將,我很喜歡。臺灣的大大小小的旅館和民宿都在上面。香港,新加坡,日本,韓國和東南亞都是它的地盤。它的 database 很完全,跟很多旅館都有來往,價錢公道,大部分都是中上等的旅館。Agoda 服務很好,還會給一些回扣,也不無小補。這都是我的親身經驗。我也常常在 agoda.com 寫評語,算是它的忠實用戶。

3。在網路上訂旅館一定要看清楚這是預訂還是需要當場付錢。如果是預訂,要看清楚什麼時候要確定,是不是去旅館才付錢。如果需要確定,一定要回預訂的網站上看看。不然認爲你放棄預訂,你可能到了旅館,房間已經沒有了。一般來說,大的旅館,比較貴的旅館,品牌比較好的旅館,都沒有這種問題。小旅館設備很差,服務不好,要小心。還有,”客棧”是不能住的。這一點我以後再告訴你我們慘痛又可笑的經驗。

4。在旅遊旺季,熱門景點的熱門旅館要很早去預訂,不然你是訂不到的。大陸消費潛力驚人,中產階級人口暴增,攜家帶眷自己開車出來玩的人更多。暑假也是旅遊旺季,尤其是八月初到八月底快開學之前。其它像五一,十一,元旦,中秋,端午,春節等等,都是人們出來旅遊的日子。能不在這個時候去旅遊,就不要在這個時候出門。誰叫我們結婚在八月,沒辦法,只有跟別人擠了。

5。旅館的位置非常重要。如果它離市區太遠,出入會不方便,出租車不會來。附近可能也沒有像樣的商家,買東西會很不方便。有的地方恐怕連出租車都叫不到,因為出租車司機不願意來如此偏遠的地方兜攬客人。滴滴打車雖然方便,可是我不喜歡,因爲我覺得它的管制不夠嚴格。

6。如果旅館在市中心,餐館多,買個東西也很方便,可是街上人多,附近的街道可能比較雜亂,來往行人的素質也會參差不齊。不過,在過去的十幾年裏和我們在絲路上走過的這幾個城市中,我們都不曾覺得人身安全會受到任何威脅。夜晚在路上走路,也不會擔心害怕。

7。大多數三級以上的城市都有一個新區。這是中國政府更新都市,吸收更多居民來城市裏居住的方法。新區和舊區可能只有一水之隔,兩者之間可能只有一條大街,不過我們去過的新區都有寬廣的大街,新栽的大樹,沿街的花叢,大片的綠地公園,全新的購物中心,繁忙的商業大樓,高級的旅館和一排一排全新的公寓大廈。市政府全都從舊區搬到新區了。高鐵站,長途汽車站,公共汽車站,博物館,展覽館,醫院,公園,體育場,公安局都搬到新區了。剛開始,人們還不願意來新區居住,覺得他不到位,也就是臺灣說的”生活機能“不夠好的意思。慢慢的,新區寬廣的大街,比較好的生活環境,新的學校,新的房屋,房地產的漲價空間,吸引人來新區買房子,投資,做生意,開飯店。整個城市變大了,入口增加了,農村的戶口也慢慢的遷移到城市裏了。大陸就是這樣把兩億五千萬農村人口搬到城市裏的。當你去絲路旅遊,你要決定是住新區好呢還是舊區好。小城市住哪的沒有問題。出租車¥15就解決了你的交通問題。大城市,想蘭州就要考慮了。蘭州交通繁忙,街上,車站林口很多,街上車子也不少。蘭州在蓋地鐵,街上坑坑洞洞的,許多地方變成單行道,住新區或舊區就要斟酌了。譬如:在蘭州我只想去甘肅省博物館參觀。博物館在新區,高鐵站在新區,那我自然就在新區找靠近博物館的旅館了。

8。多多利用中國國內的旅遊網頁去查詢旅館的好壞。不過,每個人評分的標準不見得和你的類似,看人家的評語要注意,小心。我用的最多的是馬蜂窩。Tripadvisor 和hotels 在中國境內的大城市還有些人用,在比較小城市只有幾個評語,根本沒有什麼用。攜程網站上有很多評語,不過我不常去看。我覺得他太雜亂了。

9。並不是只有便宜的旅館在旅遊旺季生意好,貴的旅館一樣忙。我們這一行只住四星或五星級的酒店,偏偏這些貴的不得了的旅館生意還奇佳。APP 上面常常沒有空房,可能是學校快要開學了,家長乘機帶孩子出門來看看。這也是為什麼敦煌和西安旅館爆滿的原因。早上吃飯的時候,餐廳裏都是三,四十歲的年輕夫婦帶著孩子,父母來度假。顯然這些人都負擔的起昂貴的房錢。不過我們在西安看到有幾個穿着旅館供應的睡袍來吃早飯的中年男女,他們敞個胸口,大搖大擺,實在不敢恭維。我們這麼大年紀的是異類。鳳毛麟角。不多。

以下是我們訂的旅館:

烏魯木齊   3 個晚上      華凌雅高美爵飯店

吐魯番       1 個晚上     友誼峰假日酒店

敦煌          3 個晚上     敦煌山莊

敦煌          2 個晚上     絲途印象精品酒店

嘉峪關      2 個晚上     廣場假日酒店

張掖          2 個晚上     宜必思(ibis)酒店

武威          1 個晚上    皇家國際酒店

蘭州          1 個晚上     藍莓精品酒店西站店

天水          2 個晚上      凱利瑞斯酒店

西安          4 個晚上      悅椿溫泉酒店,西安臨潼

上海         4 個晚上      Grand Hyatt, 浦東陸家嘴

至於這些旅館的條件和住在這些旅館的利弊,我會在別的地方簡單的說一說。

  • 交通要配合

我們在大陸旅遊有幾個不成文的原則:

  • 有高鐵就坐高鐵,沒有高鐵就坐動車,沒有動車則坐快車,如果沒有快車則等第二天。如果只有長途汽車就不去。
  • 坐高鐵和動車只買一等座,坐快車只買軟座,因為有的快車班車的二等座有上下兩層,人多,嘴雜,還有站票。很擠,很雜,很吵。

由武威去蘭州的快車有上下兩層。火車站的候車室擠得水泄不通。這是硬座車廂。

 

  • 商務艙我坐過一次,價錢比一等座要貴一倍,沒有必要花這個冤枉錢。每班車只有幾個位子,大多數是留給大官用的,平常是買不到這種位子的。只有在開車前半天左右才開放給普通老百姓購買。
  • 在市區坐出租車。我們還不會做公共汽車。在上海坐過。它太慢,太擠,不值得。在外外面更不會去坐公共汽車了。在絲路叫出租車去城裏或回旅館都只要¥15元左右。很便宜。DJIA都用支付寶或微信付錢。
  • 去比較遠的景點,譬如天山天水,麥積山,玉門關等等,我們都是包出租車去的。當我們從高鐵站出來,我們不一定都叫出租車去旅館,有時候我們也會接受黑車司機的服務。當我們上了車以後,我會跟司機聊天,問他當地的生意和人文風俗。我也會觀察車子的狀況,司機的談吐,他/她開車的技術及心態以及他/她對客人的態度。不用五分鐘,我就會決定要不要繼續跟這個人討論我們日後的行程。如果我願意,我就會問他/她願不願意第二天讓我們包車帶我們去附近的景點走走。通常他們都願意。接下來我們就談去那裏,多少錢。同意了以後我們就交換電話號碼,講好第二天幾點(通常是九點)在旅館見面,去那些地方,傍晚或晚上幾點鐘回來。如果我不喜歡這位司機,我就在手機上寫:“我不喜歡這個司機”給太太看,然後我們再想其他的辦法。我們在絲路的這幾天,請了十一,二個出租車司機。每個司機我們都很滿意。每個司機的態度都好,帶我們去景點,耐心的在外面等我們出來,價錢都在¥400一天左右。一路上他會告訴我們當地的風土人情,出產的農作物,對中國和當地經濟的看法,對習近平的佩服和期望,對臺灣的偏見和對美國的嚮往。許多司機都是從附近的鄉下來的。有的司機的父母都還在鄉下種個機分地,養個幾隻豬和鴨過日子。晚上會旅館前,我就會安排第二天的行程:去別的旅館,早上來旅館接我們,晚上幾點來城裏接我們會旅館或者第二天早上帶我們去車站搭火車等等。沒有那一個司機不是在講好的時間來的。就連蘭州和西安這種大城市的司機都不列外。我們喜歡他們的服務業也很樂意給他們一些合理的小費。他們歡喜,我們也高興。中國的出租車司機有這樣的服務態度,實在是難能可貴。這種文化的提升,素質的進步讓我們驚喜,也讓我們刮目相看,無形中對中國的將來也增加了一點點信心。

高鐵和動車一排四個位子,不過高鐵的位子前後比動車的要寬四,五寸。快車一排五個位子,每排間的距離窄的很。慢車我沒有坐過,不知道實情。各種車的價錢當然差了很多,這自然不在話下。長途旅行有時候會在車上過夜,還有臥鋪可以買。我坐過一次,一室四個床位,上下兩層,不習慣也不舒服。

高鐵一般來說是不會誤點的,車速最快305公里一個鍾頭。動車時速最快250公里一個鍾頭,會誤點,嚴重的時候會慢個半個鍾頭。快車當然也會誤點,一,兩個鐘頭是可能的。慢車誤點很嚴重,跟我們同車的一位女士帶了一個孩子跟我們說,她們的慢車誤點六,七個鐘頭,她沒有其他選擇。這是不能坐的。

在絲路上旅遊,高鐵是最好的交通工具,因為它快,穩,準時,安全,便宜,舒適,進出方便,離新市區不遠。動車和高鐵用的是同一個車站。快車和慢車用的是舊市區的車站,兩者不可混為一談。切記,切記。

坐高鐵或動車在絲路旅遊有些小問題:

1。高鐵或動車無法直接到敦煌。必須在柳園下車,然後坐公車或出租車(兩個鍾頭)去敦煌。從敦煌去我們旅途的下一站,嘉峪關,必須先坐出租車去柳園才能搭火車去嘉峪關。從柳園去敦煌沒有高速公路,並不是所有的出租車司機都願意走走一段路。公共汽車要三個鍾頭,別忘記留足夠的時間,不要誤了下一班的火車。我們的司機跟我們說,這一程的高速公路正在修建,至少要兩年才能修好。

2。從張掖去武威是沒有高鐵或動車的,只能坐快車。從武威去蘭州也沒有高鐵或動車。這兩段快車都要走三個多鍾頭。這些火車的火車站都在老區,不要跟高鐵搞混了。好在張掖和武威都不大,坐出租車要不了幾分鐘就可以到旅館了。

3。不論是高鐵,動車和快車都要早一點去火車站等車。如果你沒有事先拿票,要先去售票口拿車票。大地方,像虹橋,蘭州和烏魯木齊擠個三十分鍾才能拿到票是很平常的事。

中國公民有最新的電子身份證,可以在網路上買票,然後在車站的自動購票機拿車票。也可以直接在自動售票機買車票。很方便。我們拿臺胞證可以在網路上買票,不過必須經過人工售票窗口才能拿到票。沒有例外。不過,新聞報道說臺胞證要改成跟中國二代身份證一樣,到時候就方便多了。

拿了車票去候車廳等車。進火車站的候車廳要檢查身份和行李。沒有車票和相關的證件不能進去。行李還要經過X光機器檢查。大的火車站可能要排十幾二十分鐘才能通過。人多的火車站,像柳園和蘭州,可能有幾百,上千人等著進月臺,早點去排隊比較安心。

4。景區門票,區間車票和歌舞劇門票

幾乎所有的景區都要門票,只有一些國家或省政府的博物館可以免費參觀。70歲以上的老人不要門票。許多景區只要看身份證(臺胞證)就可以了。不過,有些地景區需要憑身份證去另外一個窗口換一張門票才能進去。買票的時候要聽清楚。65歲到70歲可以買半票。買票的時候給售票員你的臺胞證就可以了。

進了景區可以買電瓶車或區間車票帶你從售票處去景點參觀。有些景點不太遠可以走路去,但是有些山上的景點必須買區間車票,沒有其他選擇。不過坐區間車一來可以省許多時間,還可以節省一些精力。票錢不多,但是要排隊,麻煩。,不如買門票的時候就把區間車車票也買了。省事一點。如果你打算走路,絲路海拔高,紫外線強,太陽曬在身上感覺特別刺痛,記著一定要帶帽子,打傘,不過只要在樹蔭下,就會好很多。

有些景區,像敦煌和西安,有大型的歌舞表演,許多旅行團都附帶這些節目給你參觀。敦煌和西安各有幾個不同的表演,你自己決定去看那一個。這些節目都可以在大陸網路上購買,然後在指定的窗口,在指定的時間內去拿票。

至於如何在網路上買票,容後再禀。

臺灣的惡習,高官的嘴臉 December 15, 2015

Posted by hslu in Taiwan, Travel.
Tags: , , ,
1 comment so far

I like to ride Taiwan’s high speed rail line (台灣高鐵)when I traveling to other parts of Taiwan from Taipei because it almost always on time, safe, cheap and fast.

People in Taiwan are very proud of themselves because they believe Taiwan is an advanced soceity: polite, considerate, rich, highly developed and well educated.

But, occasionally, the beautiful façade is punctuated by ugly facts which makes one doubt the validity of that claim. Maybe the nation hasn’t completely gotten rid of its repugnant past or the bad habits are hard to kill.

On 12/09/2015, a morning south bound train of the Taiwan’s high speed rail line was delayed by 2.5 minutes at the main station in Taipei. There was no announcement about the reason for delay. About four hundred or so passengers on board just waited believing it might be caused by safety concern or scheduling adjustment.

Well, the train was actually waiting for company CEO who was late getting to the train station.

image

The face of a Taiwan's elite manager

What was even worse than the initial ‘crime’ was, after the incident was known to the public, the company denied the delay was caused by its CEO’s tardiness and refused to apology to the riding public.

Then the CEO and the company changed their minds admitting the impropriety and issued an public apology.

The change of heart wasn’t because the CEO felt embarrassed for his foolish action or the CEO believed the subsequent denial was even worse than the ‘crime’ itself. The CEO decided to come out because his superior at the Transportation Department wanted to investigate the incident.

The CEO then said that the incident wasn’t out of ordinary and it was a flexible management decision so that it wasn’t necessary to tell the passengers or report it to the government.

What did this incident tell you about the arrogant CEO himself and the previlege he was so willing to use for his personsl benefit?

He ignored the welfare of his paying customers and refuse to admit his mistakes because he thought his position in the government granted him a special status which, deep in his mind, made him more important than those 400 customers.

I suspect that this attitude is more deep rooted in Taiwanese culture which might permeate through out the Taiwanese soceity.

You see, all the Transportation Department said was that it was inappropriate to delay a train in order to wait for a special guest. The company should review its practice.

In other words, the Transportation Department basically calls it a ‘ No Big Deal’ and the public should get it over with. Fast.

A few days later, the CEO apologized.

Not from his heart, I believe.

His name Is 鄭光遠.

西塘古镇 March 31, 2011

Posted by hslu in China, Travel.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

西塘古镇 is an ancient city about 25 miles from Shanghai in 浙江省嘉善縣”zhe4 jiang1 sheng3 jia1 shan4 xian4,” or the County of JiaShan in Zhejiang Province.

Bao saw an article on the Internet promoting this city and asked me to take her over there on a day trip.

I found out that we could take a high-speed train at Shanghai train station and assumed that it was the main train station in the center of the city.

Well, it wasn’t. We needed to go to 虹橋火車站 on the west side of the city instead. We got there via subway and bought the 1 pm ticket to 嘉善縣. Tickets to almost every city on the railroad network could be purchased at one of probably 20 or more automated ticketing machines. If we needed assistance, we had to walk to a different section of the train station and someone over there could help us.

While waiting we went to one of the four restaurants on the second floor of the train station to have a cup of coffee. The small restaurant was packed with customers and judging by the prices on the menu, I guessed that most of the customers were either rich businessmen, rich businesswomen or party officials on expense account. Common people on 2,000 renminbi a month could not afford this kind of spending at all.

The name of the cafe was called 左岸咖啡 "zuo3 an4 ka1 fei1" Left Bank Cafe. 68 Renminbi for a latte and a regular coffee. Not cheap even by Northern Virginia standard.

We used to do this around Chinese New Year at our home in Taizhong. Mom and Dad made sausages from scratch, air-dried ducks, 腊肉 "la4 rou4" BBQ pork Chinese style and air-dried chickens. Seeing this dried in the cold air certainly bought back some fond memories from the old days. Wow, that was 50 years ago.

西塘古镇

A restaurant on the river

Zoom in to see the 對聯 "dui4 lian2."

Well prepared for the winter.

A stage for local opera and music performance

Trash bin

Entrance to a couple of local hotels. Hmm.., I am not sure I wanted to stay here.

Take a closer look of the 對聯 "dui4 lian2" and see if you can see something unique about it. Hint: same five words>

Docked for the winter season.

好一個 "醉里乾坤大" "壺中日月長." 横批嗎來一個 "半醉半醒"

百轉千回在塵外 "bai3 zhuan3 qian1 hui2 zai4 chen2 wai4." 不論你如何鑽營﹐到頭來還是在紅塵之外. 也就是說人生苦短,不要為名利而鑽營, 拼命去拍馬屁. 到頭來還是落的一场空。

豆腐花"dou4fu3 hua1" also called 豆花 "dou4 hua1" Silken Tofu or soybean custard. Literally it means soy bean flower.

豆花 "dou4 hua1" with ginger laced brown sugar syrup. I also like the syrup with cooked peanuts.

A mini series on Chinese TV called "我的青春誰做主" "wo3 de4 qing1 chun1 shui2 zuo4 zhu3" was filmed at this restaurant. The name of the mini series means: Who will decide my youth?

Mission Impossible III by Tom Cruise was filmed here.

桂花湯圓 "gui4 hua1 tang1 yuan2" Sweet rice balls with dried "Sweet Tea Olive." Comfort food in the winter time.

The best wonton soup I have ever had: paper thin skins practically melted in your mouth. Very little meat hence: small wonton 小餛飩 "xiao3 hun2 tun1." Lots of onions just the way I like it. Clear chicken broth was so flavorful that I could never inmitate. Make sure you try it when you visit here. Only 5 renminbi; about 90 cents. 1000 times better than what you can get from the A&J's in Northern Virginia.

Wonton by 陆 "lu4"

You need to zoom in to see the details.

Happy Pig

10 renminbi a pair. About $1.50

Small craft shop with a 对联 "dui4 lian2" that makes you think about your love life.

酒 "jiu3" Chinese rice wine.

On the way back to Shanghai on 高鐵 "gao1 tie3" (High speed railroad) at 339 KM/hour. Pretty fast.

台湾游记, Dec. 6 – Dec. 16, 2009, Day 6, Tainan Part I March 22, 2010

Posted by hslu in Chinese Food, Food, Restaurants, Taiwan, Travel.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment

台湾游记 Day 6, Tainan, Thursday, December 11, 2009

Today we’d have a chance to take 高鐵 for the first time to Tainan where I stayed four years for college after graduating from high school.

It was 43 years ago near the end of summer when my parents took me on a 慢車 ”man4 che1” from Taizhong to Tainan on the day of registration for all new students. 慢車 was a slow train which stopped at every station between two cities. The train ride must have taken more than four hours. 高鐵 was high speed train which would cut the time to 1/5  of what it took in the past.

I couldn’t wait to relive the experience on a train.

Before we moved to 北屯新村 when I was 12 or 13 years old, we seldom saw any train because we didn’t travel that much away from Taizhong. After we moved, we often played near the railroad track which was about 15 minutes from our house on foot. There was this narrow dirt road, about 10 – 15’ wide, meandering from the back of our village to the railroad track. From there it stretched to 大河 “da4 he2,” or big river, and into the mountains.

One of the fun things for the neighborhood kids was playing around the railroad tracks about 10 minutes’ walk from our village. The railroad was called 縱貫鐵路 “zong4 guan4 tie3 lu4” which started from the city at the northern end of Taiwan called 基隆“ji1 long2.” It then connected large cities on the west side of the island such as Taipei 台北 “tai2 bei3,” Taoyuan 桃園 :tao2 yuan2,” Xinzhu 新竹 “xin1 zhu2,” Taizhong 台中 “tai2 zhong1,” Jiayi 嘉義 “jia1 yi4,” Tainan 台南 “tai2 nan2,” Gaoxiong 高雄 “gao1 xiong2”” and Pingdong 屏東 “ping2 dong1.”  The reason it was called 縱貫鐵路 was because

  • 縱 “zong4” implies something that stretch from north to south or from top to bottom as opposite to 橫 “heng2” which mean something horizontal.
  • 貫 “guan4” means piercing through or passing through as in貫穿“guan4 chuan2.”
  • 鐵 is metal or iron and 鐵路 means railroad.

As a kid, train was something that’s exciting to wait for its arrival and amazing to see it passing through just a few feet away. There were two railroad tracks: We’d put our ear to the track and hear the train coming closer and closer toward us from far away. We’d put a penny on the track and wait for the train to come by. When the train finally came, the sound and the wind it generated made us stand back as it flew by us. We’d see steam coming out of the engine and the dark smoke flew away from the locomotive. We’d waved our hands to the engineer and passengers and hoping they’d wave back to us. After the train past by, we’d rush to the track and check the penny which usually got smashed to twice its original size. Sometimes, a slower train would stop on one track about half a mile north from the dirt road and wait for an express train to pass by.

After I graduated from high school, I moved to Tainan for college. Four years later, I joined the Army and served in a transportation division in Gaoxiong. Whenever I had a chance to go home, I’d usually take slow train to Taizhong because it was cheaper. The train stopped at every station and took forever to get to Taizhong. On the train, I got so used to hear the repetitive clatter when the box car I was in rolled from one track to the other, it became so calming that I ignored all other noises from fellow passengers and food vendors. On the way back to college, I sometime would buy a 便當 “bian4 dang1” for lunch or dinner because I had a few bucks in my pocket. Another reason was that the food in  便當 was something I very seldom eat at home and it looked very appetizing to me: a hard boiled egg cooked in meat sauce(鹵蛋 “lu3 dan4,”) a few pieces of pickled yellow radish (黃蘿蔔 “huang2 luo2 bo1”, Korean Takuwan,) a piece of deep-fried pork chop, some 酸菜 and soft rice soaked with meat sauce. The rice was softer than what we ate at home. The meat sauce was savory and slightly sweet. The pork chop was deep-fried to golden brown which paired well with 酸菜 and 黃蘿蔔.

We got to Taipei train station well before the 10:30 AM departing time and got our tickets to Tainan at 1,145 NTD each. We looked around the huge building in order to find a restaurant for breakfast. It appeared that there were some restaurants on the second floor but all gates to the second floor were closed. Furthermore, there was no one at the Information desk to provide any help. We were very disappointed that a busy train station with no breakfast services to its customers. Fortunately there was a newspaper stand which also carried 便當. We got one for 60 NTD but it was not very appetizing to me: greasy pork chops, a few pieces of over-cooked vegetables and some lukewarm rice. I had a few bites of rice and that was all I cared to eat.

Our 高鐵 train moved out of Taipei train station on time. It traveled underground for the most part of Taipei city then emerged to the surface near 板橋 “ban3 qiao2.” The train was clean, comfortable and nice but I didn’t like the PA announcement which broadcast in four languages: 國語 “guo2 yu3,” mandarin Chinese, 台灣話 “tai2 wan1 hua4,” Taiwanese, 英語 “ying1 yu3,” English and 客家話 “ke4 jia1 hua4,” kejia dialect. It suggested to me that Taiwan was a deeply divided country. I was afraid that it may be a matter of time that台灣話could replace 國語as the official language. Taiwanese people accounted for almost 85+% of the population on this island and 台灣話 was widely spoken outside of the capital city of Taipei. It was an ominous sign and I didn’t like it.

The train ride was fast, quiet and comfy. The scenery along the track was different because there were many high rise buildings now. The box car still rocked but not as rough. The repetitive clank was still the same but it came much faster. Things have definitely changed from what I remembered many years ago. Everywhere I went, I saw progress and prosperity. Yet there are signs of deep division in the society. The cultures divide still existed which could be the Achilles’ heel for this island of 21 million people.

When we arrived at Tainan, I was impressed by the bright and clean platform which was way better than the old, dark and dirty platform I knew before. We got our carry-on luggage and walked to the station and my professor friend was already there waiting for us.

He took us to the city and on the way there we saw many unfinished buildings near the train station. He said that the promised growth around the train station has never materialized. Many developers lost their investment and were forced to abandon the constructions. He said that the economy in Tainan has struggled for many years because a steady flow of capital was moved away from Taiwan in search of better returns in China. High labor costs and unfavorable government policies could not compete with China’s massive expansion. The money drain began almost two decades ago and it continued unabated to this date. In his own words, he said that Taiwan 完蛋了 “wan2 dan4 le1” which means “finished.”

He was very pessimistic about Taiwan’s future and didn’t like the previous government under the independent minded Democratic Progressive Party 民進黨 “min2 jin4 dang3.” He also didn’t like the corruption and mismanagement in 國民黨 “guo2 min2 dang3” to the point that he switched party several year ago. He joined  親民黨 (sprung out from 國民黨) and used his own money from professor’s salary to compete with local wealthy business men in national legislature elections several years ago. Of course, he and his puny election money didn’t have a chance competing with billions of personal wealth from local politicians. At least he said he tried and he had no regret that he failed.

The Tainan I knew 40 years ago was no longer there. On the way to city center, new streets, new buildings and new shops were every where. There were traffic jams at many traffic lights and the bicycle era was gone except inside the university. Tainan became much bigger and the rural area I knew back then was replaced with high rise buildings and department stores. Restaurants were everywhere and many of them I have never heard of.

Busy street to Anping Harbor.

My professor friend took us to a famous local restaurant called 周氏蝦卷 “zhou1 shi4 xia1 juan3” (Shrimp rolls from Chou’s) which I have never heard of when I was a student here. The light industrial area with a second class dance hall and run down building on the way to 安平港 “an1 ping2 gang3,”  or An1ping2 Harbor was replaced with wide streets, cars, taxis, fashion stores, restaurants, apartment buildings and coffee shops. The area was quite familiar to me because I have frequented the dance hall several times because it was cheaper than the one in a 10-story building on Zhongzheng Road just east of the canal. The change was amazing and I couldn’t recognize it at all. However, I believed the restaurant wasn’t very far from the dance hall I used to know.

The restaurant had about 80 seats or so and there might be a section upstairs too. The menu was displayed on an overhead board and my professor friend placed our orders at the counter. As I returning from the rest room, I thought to myself that there was no way I could finish that much food. We each had an order of deep-fried 蝦卷 with dipping sauce, 擔擔麵 dan4 dan4 mian4, a shrimp ball soup and a bowl of fish soup. Wow! That’s a lot of food and I wasn’t sure I could finish all this, especially the fish soup.

Since my Dad didn’t like seafood, we seldom had fish at home. As such, I wasn’t very fond of fish at all and didn’t like the cheap, 3-day old fish smell. Because of this, I rarely cook fish at home and if I did, I’ll buy live fish and add tons of ginger, onions, wine and heavy sauce in order to mask that fish taste. Whenever there was a fish dish in front of me, be it steamed, sweet and sour or deep-fried, I’d eat one or two small bites, carefully separate fish bones in my mouth and spit out the bones sometimes with fish meat too. I then casually moved on to something else.

I started with 蝦卷which was fresh and juicy. The wrapper was crispy and golden brown. There were a few good size shrimps inside. They were fresh and very tasty. No wonder the restaurant was doing such a good business with students, businessmen and housewives alike. However, I was concerned about its cholesterol content so I moved on to finish the 擔擔麵, ate the shrimp balls and then it was the dreaded fish soup.

Sauces for the shrimp rolls

There it was: a large piece of fish fillet with skin intact in a bowl of clear broth; nothing could be simpler than this. For garnish, there were some shredded ginger and green onion. And that was it. I started with the broth which was very delicious and full of ginger flavor. The green onion complemented the ginger nicely which was exactly the way it should be. So far so good! Now, let’s do the fish. And I’ll skip the skin because I hated fish scale in my mouth.

The first bite of the fish made me think: was this fish meat? It was very fresh but that’s what I expected. How come it was so tender? It practically melted in my mouth. How come there was no fish bone at all? This kind of fish was supposed to have a lot of small fish bones. Maybe I got lucky on the first bite. I was ready for the slow process of picking bones out of the fish before I could continue.

The second bite followed by the third and fourth. There was no bone. Every bite was as good as the first one. Amazing! Even the skin was good: smooth, tender and no scales at all. Not even a tiny one on the whole piece of skin. The skin was gelatinous and very delicious too.  Pretty soon, the fish and the soup were all gone. I finished it the whole thing because it was the best fish soup I have ever had. It was that good: fresh and extremely tender fish meat, delicious fish broth with strong ginger flavor, a hint of white pepper and right amount of green onions. A wonderful surprise in a town I spent four year here!

Our next stop was a tour of my university and the research center started by my professor friend. Tonight, we’d meet a few of my college friends who lived close to Tainan for dinner. I’d stay at my friend’s place for the evening.

Tomorrow, we’d take the 4 PM train back to Taipei.

%d bloggers like this: