to taichung: the high speed rail
I want to start posting about our trip to Taichung, so first things first... if you are going to travel in Taiwan, the high speed rail is the way to go. the station in Hsinchu is an easy scoot away, and parking is plentiful [and cheap.] the station is big and bright, and everything is labeled in both Mandarin and English. even the automated ticket machines are easy to use. the station also has a 7-11, Starbucks, and Mos Burger ... so we stopped for a snack while we waited for our train.
there are two kinds of tickets you can buy: reserved and non-reserved. the reserved tickets mean you have a specific assigned car, row, and seat. kindof like an airplane. the train platforms are labeled so that you know where to stand to board your car, so that you will be closest to your row. insane organization, I love it. non-reserved seats are a little cheaper but you can only sit in the 2 or 3 non-reserved cars and seats are first come, first serve- everyone else stands.
regardless of which car you are in, the train is clean and the seating is comfortable and spacious. there's also a service cart that rolls through with coffee, tea, and snacks for purchase. but the best part about the high speed rail is that it's high speed.
[this might get a little bit math class, so if you hated those "if a train leaves Chicago traveling 60mph towards New York, and at the same time a train leaves New York..." kinds of problems, maybe you should skip the end of this post. though you should note that the only way to get between those two cities by train is to route through Washington DC...]
the distance from Hsinchu to Taichung is around 115 km or 70 miles, and according to Google [and traffic] would take approximately 2 hours and 18 minutes driving time. OR. you can take the high speed rail and be there in 25 minutes. even with the time by taxi to get from the train station to your destination, it's a no-brainer.
also, consider that I used to take the train from Princeton NJ to New York City [only 81 km or 50 miles] and the trip took between 53 and 89 minutes depending on the time of day... the high speed rail is more than twice as fast as New Jersey Transit.
in fact, you can travel from the north end of the island in Taipei, all the way down to the south at Zuoying in just two hours. 352 km or 219 miles. that's just shy of the distance between New York and Washington DC, and only slightly more than the distance between NYC and Boston. I can tell you I have ridden the fastest Amtrak Acela train from NY to Boston... and the trip took me 5 hours. [closer to 6 if you drive - I've done that too!]
I feel like I've gone off on a tangent, so let me summarize my conclusions:
1. the Taiwan high speed rail is fast, convenient, and awesome.
2. I wish the US had trains that traveled this quickly.
3. I also wish the US had trains that traveled to more destinations.
4. I wish the US would have built them years ago and saved me all that airline money spent and all those 12-hour drives from Princeton to Detroit, and some serious commute time to/from NYC.
5. sorry my list of conclusions turned into a list of tangents.
6. I promise the next post about Taichung will actually be about Taichung.
7. can you tell my brain is fried from substitute teaching all week?
8. thank you, and good night.