My Trip to QinhuangdaoQinhuangdao is a coastal city in Hebei Province, about 300km west of Beijing and 241km north of Tianjin. It is located between Yanshan Mountains on the north and the Bohai Sea on the south. The city is named after the first emperor - Qinshihuang in Qin Dynasty (over 2000 years ago). In the year 215 BC, Qinshihuang was here on his 4th expedition and sent people to the sea for seeking the drugs for immortalilty. Now it is the only city in China named after an emperor in China.
The city of Qinhuangdao is composed of 3 districts and 4 counties. The three districts are Shanhaiguan, Haigang and Beidaihe. Haiguang District is where the Qinhuangdao Municipality is located as well as the place where Qinshihuang sent the people on the sea looking for immortality drugs. The 4 counties are Funing County, Changli County, Lulong County, Qinglong Manchu Autonomous County.
Haigang District is the economic, political and cultural center of Qinhuangdao. The west of the district is Qinhuangdao Economic and Technological Develpoment Zone. "Haiguang" means "Harbor". The Port of Qinhuangdao is a large and multi-functioned harbor. Qinhuangdao Train Station is in Haigang District. There are 22 daily trains running between Beijing and Qinhuangdao. Only in Haigang District you are able to find many highrises and crowds of people.
Shanhaiguan District is about 20km to the northeast of Haigang District. Unlike Haigang District, Shanhaiguan District was once an ancient city. It was an important military defense base holding a very strategically important location, a vital passage connecting Northeast China to the North and Inner-land of China.
The local government has invested huge amount of money for repairing and amending the old city to boost the local tourism industry. Now the ancient Shanhaiguan District looks brand new and old. The First Pass Under Heaven is actually one of the four gates of the ancient city - Shanhaiguan City.
Beidaihe District is about 15km to the southwest of Haigang District. It is a famous seabeach resort with soft and clean sand snaking over 10km. Beidaihe was first developed and frequented by European diplomats, missionaries and businessmen in the early 20th century. After 1949, Beidaihe became a popular summer getaway among high-ranking officials of the new China. Late Chairman Mao Zedong likes the beach in Beidahe very much. He came to Beidaihe almost every year. He had a residence here. Now eah year many government organizations and companies often choose Beidaihe as a destination for meetings and conferences.
Taking Train D21 to Qinhuangao
On June 2, 2009, I took the early morning Train D21 to Qinhuangdao together with my co-worker - Xiao Hao on a familiarization trip. I can't remember how often I have been to Qinhungdao in the past 15 years since I migrated from Hangzhou to Beijing on Feb 14, 2009. For me, Qinhuangdao is just like an old friend as well as an gold mine which takes time to be explored.
This time I quite expected to experience the D Train ( CRH ), a kind of high speed bullet train from Beijing to Qinhuangdao. The D Train only takes two hours from Beijing to Qinhuangdao.
I had checked the online China train timetable (http://www.huoche.com.cn/). There are daily trains between Beijing and Beidaihe, 22 trains between Beijing and Qinhuangdao ( Haigang District ) and 20 trains between Beijing and Shanhaiguan. There are 4 kinds of trains. Take Beijing - Qinhuangdao trains for example, the fastest train is D Train only taking 2 hours while the other three kinds of trains take the time ranging 3 to 5 hours.
So we chose the Train D21 to our destination - Qinhuangdao starting from Beijing Railway Station at 7:20am and arriving in Qinhuagdao (Haigang District ) at 09:20am. The Train D21 for Qinhuangdao is not a direct train and its last destination is Shenyang. Qinhuangdao is Train D21's first stop starting from Beijing.
As far as I remember it was the third time for me to take a D Train. But I still felt a little bit surprised that this time no train conductors standing by the door to welcome passengers while in the past there used to be an elegantly dressed train steward who would stand by each door to assist passengers aboard the train. We couldn't find any train steward! How open the door and aboard the train? These are self-service doors automatically controled by two buttons - open and close both outside and inside the door!
There are two kinds of seats for most of the D Trains - first class and second class. The biggest difference between First Class and Second Class is the number of seats abreast in the carriage car. In the first class seat car, there are 4 soft seats abreast while 5 seats abreast in a second class car. So the first class seat is bigger and a little comfortable. We used the second class seats.
It was not a tourist peak time. That's why we found many empty seats, about two third of the seats unbooked in our car. For me, the D train second class seats are more comfortable than the economic seats of an airplane. You have a portable tray table and one complimentary bottle of mineral water. Washing rooms are set at the both ends of each car.
Unlike a traditional green train, no D train steward will remind you that the train is leaving. So please watch your time if you are smoking outside the train. The door will be automatically closed and the train will leave without any notice!
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