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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

Romania

 

 

In October 2016 we flew from southern England to Romania.

Romania is a big country by European standards and not one to see by public transport if time is limited.  So to travel beyond Bucharest we hired a car and drove northwest to Brașov and on to Sighisiora, before looping southwest to Sibiu (European capital of culture 2007) and southeast through the Transylvanian Alps to Curtea de Arges on our way back to Bucharest. 

Driving in Romania was interesting.  There are some quite good motorways once out of the suburbs of Bucharest, where traffic lights are interminable trams rumble noisily, trolley-busses stop and start and progress can be slow.  In the countryside road surfaces are variable and the roads mostly narrow. This does not slow the locals who seem to ignore speed limits making it necessary to keep up to avoid holding up traffic. 

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Fiction, Recollections & News

The Writer

 

 

The fellow sitting beside me slammed his book closed and sat looking pensive. 

The bus was approaching Cremorne junction.  I like the M30.  It starts where I get on so I’m assured of a seat and it goes all the way to Sydenham in the inner West, past Sydney University.  Part of the trip is particularly scenic, approaching and crossing the Harbour Bridge.  We’d be in The City soon.

My fellow passenger sat there just staring blankly into space.  I was intrigued.   So I asked what he had been reading that evoked such deep thought.  He smiled broadly, aroused from his reverie.  “Oh it’s just Inferno the latest Dan Brown,” he said.   

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Opinions and Philosophy

The Chimera of Clean Coal

The Chimera - also known as carbon capture and storage (CCS) or Carbon Sequestration

 

 


Carbon Sequestration Source: Wikimedia Commons

 

Whenever the prospect of increased carbon consumption is debated someone is sure to hold out the imminent availability of Clean Coal Technology; always just a few years away. 

I have discussed this at length in the article Carbon Sequestration (Carbon Capture and Storage) on this website. 

In that detailed analysis I dismissed CCS as a realistic solution to reducing carbon dioxide emissions for the following reasons:

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