Averaging 270 kph, top speed 306 on the way from Xian to. Beijing on a G-train. It’s smooth spacious, clean, on time and I’ll do an 700 mile journey in 4.5 hours. Kind of puts the uk’s transport system to shame.

The landscape through shaanxi and then shanxi province is pancake flat and is unremarkable; either intensively cultivated or urban sprawls marked by swooping concrete flyovers suspended on pillars, multiple rail lines, worker camps, yards full of concrete pipes, girders and heavy construction materials, and massive pockets of monotonously plain and identikit high rise concrete shells and even higher yellow cranes. On the outskirts of the cities these developments reach off to the horizon. About 70% are unfinished carcasses, and seem to be abandoned projects, presumably as the developers have run out of funds. This is urbanisation and modernisation at a vast almost inhumanising scale: the construction of 30 storey homes that are bought as investments, the creation of an infrastructure of hyper fast communications links. The skies are yellowy-grey, heavy, dense with smog. The life seems to have been sucked out of the land. Concrete jungle is the term. If this is the future I don’t think I like it very much.


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