China trip – 15. Beijing train museum

I like travelling by train.  I went the entire length of Switzerland by train after seeing my friend Matthew who I met in Israel who lives in Basel, and I travelled across Morocco to get from Tangier to Casablanca to Fez.   It’s fascinating when railways can be built over impossibly complicated terrain with tunnels and bridges.

DSCF0132 1024

This was interesting but had very little English details of how China’s transportation has evolved over the years.

DSCF0133 1024

Visiting in the driver’s seat of this train was roped off as it was at extra cost.

DSCF0134 1024.JPG

The inner working of modern trains as well the vintage ones.

DSCF0138 1024.JPG

Models of China’s lines.

In advance, I bought two tickets at US$85 each to get from Beijing to Shanghai, more on that next.

14. Beijing’s metro, close copy of London Underground

16. Fast train in Beijing to Shanghai

 

Advertisements

China trip – 14. Beijing’s metro, close copy of London Underground

IMG_20170416_174431579

The Chinese are the master of counterfeiters.  But not always in a bad way.

My journey to go from where I live in Harrow in outer London (zone 5, Metropolitan line) to the middle of the city is something like £3.70 I think one way.   Going on the metro in China is something like 20-50p.

Beijing’s metro has been going since 1969 and has 345 stations.   London Underground has 270 but has been going since 1863.  Some of it quite clearly is influenced by London

IMG_20170415_030242157 1024

I think this was Beijing’s main central railway station.  The individual stations are named with their English transliteration, but each line has just a number as well as a colour.

DSCF9437 1024

Stations can be very grand in their appearance with this large hanging pictures.

What’s a bit different, is the tougher security, X-ray machines which you are required to put your luggage through at every station, and they still have ticket offices, whereas the London Underground requires payment only by a machine meaning ticket offices are almost a thing of the past.    The Chinese tube has a loud bell ringing when the doors are about to shut.

13. Tiananmen Square

15. Beijing train museum

 

China trip 13. – Tianamen square

beijing pano 1024

Here is the famous Tiananmen Square, a place where some students made a demonstration against the government in 1989.

Today, this moment in history is a taboo subject in Beijing you can’t talk about.   On my last article on the government filtered internet, I didn’t check this item.

DSCF0121 1024.JPG

Like many big famous places, all entries/exits to the site require going through security checks.

DSCF0128 1024.JPG

Entrance to the metro station is blocked sometimes.

12. The land of no Google

14. Beijing’s metro, close copy of London Underground

China trip – 12. The land of no Google

Often, folks in the west are concerned about government surveillance of what the general public use their computers and smartphones to do since the big discovery from former US government IT consultant Edward Snowdon.

China’s internet is heavily filtered by the government with much in the way of social media and articles that point out lack of freedom of speech are often invisible to China’s citizens.

In recent times Apple is building a massive data centre to provide online cloud storage that meets the standard of the Chinese government.

I decided to do my own tests whilst I was in China using a) a Lenovo Thinkpad computer which has the bottom held together with tape I got free from my ex-employer, which I upgraded from Windows 8.1 to 10, it contains almost no data and has a poorly performing AMD processor, being a cheap computer I take with me on trips which would be not too much of a tragedy if stolen than a nicer laptop.   I also my Motorola Moto G Android phone which is actually owned by Lenovo which are a Chinese company.

I used a VPN program which is a piece of software to make your computer to appear to have an IP address of another location.   This is not just for countries hostile to freedom of speech.   These apps are used by business people to be able to connect to network drives on the file servers at their employer’s location.

For obvious reasons take great care if you want to blog about your own discoveries, ie: don’t write until you get back home again!

This list was correct in April 2017 when I did the trip, its likely results will change.

These sites work:-
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mao_Zedong (English Wikipedia is ok, but…..)
http://www.bing.com (redirects to http://cn.bing.com/)
https://www.yahoo.com/
https://slashdot.org/ (US based IT news site, reported before on China’s great firewall)
https://www.theregister.co.uk/ (UK based IT site, similar to above)
http://www.bbc.co.uk
http://www.aljazeera.com/
http://www.cisco.com/
http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/security/vpn-endpoint-security-clients/index.html (VPN!!)
http://www.hp.com/country/us/en/welcome.html
http://www.korea-dpr.com/ (North Korea government!)
https://www.whitehouse.gov/
https://www.checkpoint.com/
https://www.rt.com/ (Russia today)
https://www.waze.com/en-GB/ (popular Israel based GPS app for phone now owned by Google)
http://www.chinahumanrights.org/
https://www.aclu.org/issues/free-speech
https://jewsforjesus.org/
http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/
https://backtojerusalem.com/home/
http://alpha.org/

ping

blocked sites can’t even be tested with a PING command

These sites are banned
https://zh.wikipedia.org/ (…Chinese language Wikipedia)
http://www.Facebook.com
http://www.google.com
https://www.wikileaks.com/
https://hola.org/ (VPN)
https://www.hrw.org/zh-hans
https://twitter.com/
http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/
http://www.inspirationalchristians.org/biography/brother-yun/ (Brother Yun is a pioneer of the modern Chinese church)
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/
https://www.mossad.gov.il/ (Israel secret service – this redirects somewhere else??)
https://www.whatsapp.com/ (site doesn’t render properly)
https://www.opendoors.org/ (Christian charity on the persecuted church)
https://billygraham.org/
http://www.salvationarmy.org/

Watching what the public is doing with their computers and/or making content blocked in a country by governments is like an arms war, as technical IT people relish the challenge to find a way around things.

Can you imagine trying to boycott China-made IT kit?  I think it would be a case of nah-nah nah nah-nah,  we make everything!   Also, China’s Great Firewall infrastructure that stops citizens seeing certain things, has equipment made by Cisco who is a US company.  Oh well.

Tips:

  1. If you want to make sure you are connected before you leave your home country,  get all the apps you need first.
  2. If you have Gmail on your phone.   Set up an Outlook account and put it on your phone and get Google to auto-forward mail to the Outlook account and you won’t miss anything.
  3. Chinese Android phones have no Google Play store.   You won’t be able to grab any apps for your own phone while in China.   I would avoid buying phones out there, the whole point of the Apps Store is Google vet apps of any malicious stuff in advance before they are published.
  4. If VPN is really important (ie: you are needing to work while away, you will need to pay for one.)   The free ones are ok but are slow and take a while to startup.
  5. Don’t use your phone or PC to do anything to draw attention to yourself whilst you are in China.   Stay safe!!!

11. Bible and Christian books for sale in China’s high street

13. Tiananmen square