The Beijing Subway. Truly efficient and amazing. Clean. Fast. And the translations provoke smiles.
The Beijing Subway system started in 1969. Until 2002, there were only 2 subway lines in Beijing. There are 17 now. There will be 19, total, by 2015. They have the second longest subway system, measured by distance, and third highest annual ridership, in the world.
The Subway has 2.46 BILLION stops a year. They deliver an average of 8.5 million people a day to their destinations.
Beijing knows how to build subways and move people.
The price of a subway ride in Beijing, with as many transfers as you want, is 2RMB. RMB is the English term for the Chinese Yuan or Quai. The Chinese script for yuan or quai is 元. The literal translation of RMB rather informative about the culture: R (ren) stands for person 人. M (min) stands for people 民 together they mean people. B (bi) means currency 币. So person and people currency. Makes sense to me.
At an exchange rate of 6.1RMB to the U.S. Dollar a subway ride costs about 32 American cents. Yep, you can ride for miles and miles and pay 32 pennies only. Does anyone even use pennies in the States anymore? I know I didn’t.
Buses, by the way, are .4RMB or about one American nickle.
As I ride the subway, there is both a Mandarin voice and an English voice informing the subway riders of the information about where the train is heading, the next stop, and most importantly what stop you are at currently.
And the serene voice that comes from above means in a very literal sense.
I get off at the Liangmaqiao (pronounced, in my horrible accent, as “Lee-ang-ma-chiao”)10 line to get to my work.
When the train arrives, the voice states one of two points:
“We are already at Liangmaqiao Station”
or, my favorite,
“You are literally at Liangmaqiao Station.”
I smile and start laughing a little bit when I hear this and start wondering who did this translation and why it is so literal and specific. I would think that the common translation would be, “You have arrived at Liangmaqiao Station” but to each city, country and culture, their own.
It is one of the joys of living in a new city, a new culture, and in many ways, a new life. So much of it is wonderment, joy and magical.
So, next time you go anywhere, literally be there. You already are.