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Following our Japan trip in May 2017 we all returned to Hong Kong, after which Craig and Sonia headed home and Wendy and I headed to Shenzhen in China. 

I have mentioned both these locations as a result of previous travels.  They form what is effectively a single conurbation divided by the Hong Kong/Mainland border and this line also divides the population economically and in terms of population density.

These days there is a great deal of two way traffic between the two.  It's very easy if one has the appropriate passes; and just a little less so for foreign tourists like us.  Australians don't need a visa to Hong Kong but do need one to go into China unless flying through and stopping at certain locations for less than 72 hours.  Getting a visa requires a visit to the Chinese consulate at home or sitting around in a reception room on the Hong Kong side of the border, for about an hour in a ticket-queue, waiting for a (less expensive) temporary visa to be issued.

With documents in hand it's no more difficult than walking from one metro platform to the next, a five minute walk, interrupted in this case by queues at the immigration desks.  Both metros are world class and very similar, with the metro on the Chinese side a little more modern. It's also considerably less expensive. From here you can also take a very fast train to Guangzhou (see our recent visit there on this website) and from there to other major cities in China. 

There are several pictures taken on the metro in Guangzhou in that album. Both the Shenzhen Metro and the Hong Kong MTR are similar from a commuter's standpoint.  Everything is very modern with: good lighting and air-conditioning; platform glass barriers; lots of shiny metallic surfaces; lifts; and escalators. 

 

The Guangzhou Metro (with 186 stations) is technically very similar those larger networks in Shanghai (364 stations)
and Shenzhen (with 199 stations).  Hong Kong MTR has 93 similar rail and 68 integrated light rail (tram) stops

 

More about Trains - for those interested

All China's trains use 'Standard Guage', unlike Australia's farcical differences between States.  Most Mainland metros use 1,500 V DC, as do the majority of Hong Kong MTR tracks, while the older but also huge Beijing Subway (with 345 stations  - growing steadily), employs only half that voltage, like the MTR light rail. 750V is safer in public streets but puts a limit on top speed, like Melbourne's trams on only 600V DC. 

Thus the newest and longest MTR lines, like the partially completed Hung Hom line, employ 25,000 V AC, in harmony with China Railway High-speed (CHR) services.

These were originally based on Japan's Shinkansen  (see Japan) and initially the train sets were imported from Japan but in 2004 public outrage over using Japanese manufactured rolling stock led to increased domestic production, in turn to independent technological development (still in cooperation with Kawasaki Heavy Industries).  Now the 'China Standardized EMU' train-set, introduced in 2016, has a regular operational speed of 350 km/h (217 mph) but the CRH380BL train-set has attained a test speed of 487.3 km/h (302.8 mph), a considerable improvement on the Japanese train-sets.

With eight horizontal and eight vertical lines, totalling 12,000 km, forming a rough grid over the map of China and regular operating speeds of up to 400km/h China's is by far the most extensive and advanced high speed rail network in the world. 

 

 

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Travel

India and Nepal

 

 

Introduction

 

In October 2012 we travelled to Nepal and South India. We had been to North India a couple of years ago and wanted to see more of this fascinating country; that will be the most populous country in the World within the next two decades. 

In many ways India is like a federation of several countries; so different is one region from another. For my commentary on our trip to Northern India in 2009 Read here...

For that matter Nepal could well be part of India as it differs less from some regions of India than do some actual regions of India. 

These regional differences range from climate and ethnicity to economic wellbeing and religious practice. Although poverty, resulting from inadequate education and over-population is commonplace throughout the sub-continent, it is much worse in some regions than in others.

Read more ...

Fiction, Recollections & News

The Meaning of Death

 

 

 

 

 

 

'I was recently restored to life after being dead for several hours' 

The truth of this statement depends on the changing and surprisingly imprecise meaning of the word: 'dead'. 

Until the middle of last century a medical person may well have declared me dead.  I was definitely dead by the rules of the day.  I lacked most of the essential 'vital signs' of a living person and the technology that sustained me in their absence was not yet perfected. 

I was no longer breathing; I had no heartbeat; I was limp and unconscious; and I failed to respond to stimuli, like being cut open (as in a post mortem examination) and having my heart sliced into.  Until the middle of the 20th century the next course would have been to call an undertaker; say some comforting words then dispose of my corpse: perhaps at sea if I was travelling (that might be nice); or it in a box in the ground; or by feeding my low-ash coffin into a furnace then collect the dust to deposit or scatter somewhere.

But today we set little store by a pulse or breathing as arbiters of life.  No more listening for a heartbeat or holding a feather to the nose. Now we need to know about the state of the brain and central nervous system.  According to the BMA: '{death} is generally taken to mean the irreversible loss of capacity for consciousness combined with the irreversible loss of capacity to breathe'.  In other words, returning from death depends on the potential of our brain and central nervous system to recover from whatever trauma or disease assails us.

Read more ...

Opinions and Philosophy

Gone but not forgotten

Gone but not forgotten

 

 

Gough Whitlam has died at the age of 98.

I had an early encounter with him electioneering in western Sydney when he was newly in opposition, soon after he had usurped Cocky (Arthur) Calwell as leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party and was still hated by elements of his own party.

I liked Cocky too.  He'd addressed us at University once, revealing that he hid his considerable intellectual light under a barrel.  He was an able man but in the Labor Party of the day to seem too smart or well spoken (like that bastard Menzies) was believed to be a handicap, hence his 'rough diamond' persona.

Gough was a new breed: smooth, well presented and intellectually arrogant.  He had quite a fight on his hands to gain and retain leadership.  And he used his eventual victory over the Party's 'faceless men' to persuade the Country that he was altogether a new broom. 

It was time for a change not just for the Labor Party but for Australia.

Read more ...

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