Getting around Guangzhou

Filed in Travels

I’m very impressed with the Guangzhou Metro. The last time I was there in September 2007, there had been none, at least not for me. It was my first time there and I had only two days, so I got the hotel to get me a private car to take me to Guangzhou Zoo to see Shi Shi, and Panyu Safari World (as Chimelong Wild Safari Park was then known) to see if a panda there by the name of Dong Dong was Bai Yun’s mother (she was).

This time I took the Metro. I thought it hadn’t existed back in 2007 but a quick google proved me wrong; it has existed since 1997, with the Hanxi Changlong station, the stop for the safari park, opened in 2006 and the Zoo station in 2009.

Back in 2007, I paid 300 Yuan for the private car; this trip, I paid a total of 40 Yuan for two day passes costing 20 Yuan each. I didn’t visit both places on the same day as I was told the best visiting time was in the afternoon for both so I did my visits on two consecutive afternoons.

There are altogether 15 lines and almost twice as many interchanges but no confusion at all in taking them. On each train, announcements for the destination and next station names are repeated in Mandarin, Chinese and English, and also rolled out, ticker style, beneath the line’s map and in sync with the announcements. The station names are also lit up on the map and dimmed as the train leaves each station. Before boarding the train, passengers can also see, above each door, the name of the station they are in, which line the station is part of, as well as the name of the next station either to the left or right which also serves as an indication to the direction of the train. There is also a line map similar to the lit map inside the train. For passengers changing trains, the line names are also colour-coded to show them the way.

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At Ouzhuang station; next stop – the Zoo!

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Sign above door to train at Zoo station

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Similar sign at Hanxi Changlong station

That was not all. The first time the first train we took rolled into a station, I looked for the name to see which station and was surprised to see it in “handwritten” Chinese calligraphy (the main signage) and “printed” Chinese calligraphy (on pillars). However, the station names are only in Chinese.

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Zoo sign in “handwritten” calligraphy

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Hanxi Changlong sign in “handwritten” calligraphy

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“Handwritten” and “printed” calligraphy signs for Ganding station near our hotel

One other thing which impressed me: the next train announcement features not just the expected wait time for the next train but the next three trains, and not in a ticker-style format but on a TV screen alongside the news. As with the station names, these announcements are also only in Chinese.

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Next train in …

After two days in Guangzhou, I know the Metro enough to send directions to a friend who will be there soon; I mean the directions to the two stations that matter most – Zoo and Hanxi Changlong.