What it’s like to travel 100 miles by train inside Beijing’s Olympic bubble πŸ’₯πŸ’₯πŸ’₯

Getting around Beijing’s Olympic closed-loop bubble is not straightforward but traveling 100 miles (160 kilometers) from central Beijing to Zhangjiakou is an experience of its own.

The journey starts with Covid testing right outside my hotel – a daily ritual of life inside the bubble.

My first destination is the main media center, which serves as a hub for the three-dozen bus lines running in central Beijing — one of three “zones” inside the Olympic closed loop where the sporting events take place.

The media center is the only place I can catch a bus to the train station located in the northwestern suburb of the city.

As the bus drives down the streets of Beijing, it becomes its own mobile mini-bubble, passing local residents going about their daily lives. The front of the bus is completely sealed off behind a thick transparent screen, intended to protect the driver against the spread of the virus.

Statues of the Beijing Olympic mascots at Taizicheng station in Zhangjiakou, China.
Statues of the Beijing Olympic mascots at Taizicheng station in Zhangjiakou, China. (Nectar Gan/CNN)
A thick partition separates the bus driver from the passengers inside the Olympic closed loop.
A thick partition separates the bus driver from the passengers inside the Olympic closed loop. (Nectar Gan/CNN)

After arriving at the media center, I wait half an hour for the bus to the Qinghe railway station. Then the drive takes another 20 minutes.

The railway station is split into two parts: one inside the Olympics bubble and one outside. We enter via a special gate for Olympics personnel to our own waiting room, with the main departure hall for local travelers sealed off behind glass walls.

There is no paper train ticket, only a QR code obtained in advance on a phone app. The check-in process is all contactless — you just scan the code and walk through the gate.

The Qinghe railway station in Beijing.
The Qinghe railway station in Beijing. (Nectar Gan/CNN)

On the platform, even the train itself is divided: carriages 1 to 5 are for those within the bubble, and carriages 6 to 8 are for travelers outside it. A string of barricades prevent us from boarding the wrong carriages.

Inside the train, everything appears brand new. The smell of disinfectant fills the air, pungent even through N-95 masks. Crew members all wear goggles or face shields, in addition to masks.

Boarding the high-speed rail from Beijing to Zhangjiakou inside the Olympic closed loop.
Boarding the high-speed rail from Beijing to Zhangjiakou inside the Olympic closed loop. (Nectar Gan/CNN)

The train ride itself is very comfortable. As we head northwest, the city landscape gives way to open fields and rural villages, cradled by brown mountains in the distance. We also pass wind turbines and solar panels — Beijing has claimed the Winter Games are powered 100% by wind and solar energy, mostly transported from Zhangjiakou.

The high-speed train that takes passengers between central Beijing and Zhangjiakou, two of the three "zones" in the Olympic closed loop.
The high-speed train that takes passengers between central Beijing and Zhangjiakou, two of the three “zones” in the Olympic closed loop. (Nectar Gan/CNN)

After 50 minutes, we arrive at Taizicheng station in Zhangjiakou. Stepping out of the train, the air is notably colder — the temperature is about 10 degrees celsius lower than in central Beijing. Parts of the ground are covered in white: it had snowed the previous day, a cleaning worker at the station told me.

But higher up on the mountain, the white ski slopes are made with artificial snow — and they’re ready for the Games to start.

What it’s like to travel 100 miles by train inside Beijing’s Olympic bubble

Get link

xoonews.com

websitetrafficnews.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *