mardi 6 septembre 2011

The frog has got 20 fingers...

… And still counting.

If you have travelled in China you already know this, but if you just arrived you may be confused by the fact that Chinese people can count up to 10 with only one hand. It does not mean they have 10 fingers on one hand! I looked carefully, like  most human being most of them have 5 fingers on each hand. Even better, it sounds reasonable to say that 5 fingers is the maximum a hand is able to hold in China as anywhere else on the planet. If some Galaxy Hitch Hiker can help to generalize, or not, this rule to the galaxy, he or she is more than welcomed.

The big secret, that obviously everybody can see, but that all aliens do not understand, is a special convention the Chinese people have developed in order to count up to 10 with only one hand.

One is obviously the easy one, two is easy in one way, because in France for instance we have a way to say two which is eight in China. Three is funny also, because it means "ok" in other parts of the world. Four is quite as easy as Five, which is as easy as one, already mentioned, because there are not so many ways to show five fingers with five fingers. Six is funny because again in other parts of the world it is the way young skaters, surfers and gliders mentioned they had a good one. Seven in Italy means you can't understand, eight is two, nine I forgot and ten is a hard stretching exercise for your fingers, or you need both hands to use two fingers only!? This looks like a big waste of fingers after having been so carefully using them.

I hope you got the clue, may be some pictures would make it easier to understand, try Google… No, sorry you have to use Baidu ( instead… but this will be another story.

vendredi 2 septembre 2011

Living the Bullet Life

Some details about the Bullet life.

Why bullet? Because I am a commuter, a bullet commuter.
I have to take the bullet train from Shanghai (上海) to Suzhou (苏州) almost daily. At the maximum of 300 km/hours that is certainly the fastest way to cover the 80 kilometers between the 2 cities. It is also a very comfortable way to travel but the most amazing part of traveling by train in Shanghai is that it is even better organized than traveling by plane in Europe.

To let you understand what I mean by "organized" I took this picture of Shanghai Hong Qiao Railway Station (上海虹桥站). The small black dots on the picture are not ants, they are human beings. Yes, it is a BIG room. This is the waiting room and also the departure lounge from where you can access all the platforms. Like in an airport there is a security check at the entry of the lounge. The platform are at the level below the lounge, the level above, from where the photo is taken is the restaurants and shops level.
The wide blue screens (nothing to do with Windows…) in the middle of the lounge displays all the departures for the next hour, but all names are written in Chinese, so you'd better know your train number to make sure you don't end up at the other side of the country, which is quite large. 
As far as organization is concerned, on one side of the lounge are the A doors for the head of the train, on the other side the B doors for the end. Depending on your ticket you will use the doors on one side or another, some 10 minutes before the departure. On the left side of the picture you can see the orange gates where your ticket is checked and that let you go.


And then, the Frog enters the Bullet…

Marc Augier