North Railway Station
I woke up late again today because I can’t fall asleep before 3 or 4 AM. I got dressed or I should say, I rolled out of bed and put a jacket on and strolled out of the apartment headed towards the Metro station. My original plans consisted of getting a bullet train ticket for Lidui Park to visit the Dujiangyan Irrigation System. After getting off at the North Railway Station and following Exit D towards the ticket office for the ChengDu Railway Station I realized everything was booked up for the next 3 hours. If I waited I would not be able to take the train back to ChengDu because it only runs until 8 PM. So I decided to roam around the city.
Just like last night I turned on Strava and recorded a route so I could get back to my original location. This method of exploring beats buying a handheld GPS for a few hundred USD. It’s worked twice now so I will continue to use it in the future.
I walked out of the station towards the main road and noticed a ton of motorbike’s and pedestrians. Since this is a huge hub a lot of traffic surrounds this part of ChengDu because all of the people taking the train from all different parts of China end up here. I squeezed by pedestrians and followed the skyscrapers under construction. They stand tall above the city while the Chinese construction workers weld beams together, and fabricate steel for the building columns.
I continued to walk around the city, buying a hot dog and this spicy chicken on a stick, with my water jug dangling and hitting my leg ever so often. I walked for miles, getting further and further away from the pedestrian traffic until I entered a less crowded part of town. I passed a famous bridge and wandered further into the city walking along a waterway next to bright green blades of grass, and palm tree leaves, while yellow leaves fell from the trees above and blew past my feet and eyes. Chinese women picked up the fallen leaves to use for tinder and people stared at me as I walked past confused as to why I was there and what I was doing?
At this point I was a few miles into the city away from the most of the foot traffic. I walked down some random roads towards the poorer part of town and stumbled upon a series of abandoned buildings next a billboard that said “Future Mall.” I crossed the street walking between two buses and noticed an opening in the wall. I approached it cautiously and peeked my head in to see a makeshift house built from the rubble of a half torn down building. Sticks and cloth draped over the top to make a roof and a crooked door installed to make it look like a home. People sat and drank tea as I tiptoed by on the random step stones of brick, debris and slate. The brick buildings looked like apartments at one point, with windows every few feet for three stories. Garages appeared to be out front, which decayed to just walls of brick with no rooftops. As I walked closer to enter I noticed the a tall blue skyscraper in the background within proximity of the vacant lot. I almost poked my head in the entrance when a group of dogs barked ferociously at me, their barks echoing down the stairwell.
I either entered a squat where their owners lived or they just found a place for shelter. I didn’t stick around long to find out due to a fear of being bit again. I left the same way I entered and continued moseying on down the road.
I reached a desolate road next to a park where the plants and flowers flourished. Walking through the park I followed the stepping stones until I reached a barb wired fence and a murky waterway. I grabbed onto some of the brick wall and held myself on the steep slope as to not fall in the filthy water. After a few holds and foot plants I managed to get near a diamond shaped hole in the fence. I stood on a pile of trash next to a series of plastic, black piping that fed across the waterway on a rusty truss platform. I wanted to make a run for it through the fence, but I feared walking on the train tracks because all of them have cameras in China. I thought long and hard about the predicament in which I put myself. Should I trek back the way I came and go two miles out of the way or cross this rickety truss covered in rust fragments, and concrete dust? I decided to take the road less traveled.
I grabbed onto the truss firmly with my left hand and slid my knee foot by foot until grabbing each diagonal overhang with my right hand and planting my right on a sturdy section of piping. After five minutes of doing this I reached the middle and my hair entangled in some overgrown brush. Most of my clothes covered in concrete dust, particles of rock fell in the waterway, and the Chinese fishing off into the distance looked at me with a confused expression on their faces. I finally reached the end after a few more minutes of awkward movements cutting off two miles of my trip. I walked around the waterway watching people fish, garden and relax in the grass while construction workers worked on the skyscrapers across the waterway.
After a few minutes of walking I realized where I was at and hopped the fence walking back in the direction I came. The next few miles I just looked up at the same skyscrapers I saw at the beginning of my journey for the day. After six miles I made it back to the North Railway Station ending my wandering for the day on a great note.