Trials and travails of a Taiwanese-American kid in Taiwan

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Riding the THSR: "You're gonna die!"

To: ymc47
Start Time: 10:50:29 PM; End Time: 11:38:33 PM

ymc47 says: (11:10:38 PM)
btw, i managed to land a ticket to chiayi this noon
hai_tien says: (11:10:48 PM)

Wha? HSR?

ymc47 says: (11:11:20 PM)


hai_tien says: (11:11:29 PM)

Whoa... online?

ymc47 says: (11:11:35 PM)

i went to taipei main station...much less chaotic than banciao

hai_tien says: (11:11:52 PM)

Ah... damn... gotta go tomorrow. Or are they sold out?

ymc47 says: (11:12:30 PM)

i think you'll be ok

hai_tien says: (11:12:46 PM)

Sweet, I think I'll try a Taichung run.

ymc47 says: (11:12:47 PM)

there are many slots to choose from

hai_tien says: (11:13:22 PM)

Nice... will do tomorrow!
It's a testament to the power of the media here how much hysteria they've been able to whip up regarding the soon to be opened Taiwan High Speed Rail system. Every detail of the construction of THSR has been carefully scrutinized by the media and promptly reinterpreted in the worst possible light.

Consequently my folks are convinced that the first train out of Banciao Station will derail, burst into flame, and be struck by a meteor. And I will lie there blooded and dying while a TVBS reporter shoves a microphone into my face screaming "先生!你現在感覺如何?"

Me: But you said the same thing about the Taipei MRT, Taipei 101, and the Hsueshan Tunnel. Now that they've been around for a while you have no trouble whatsoever using them.
Parents in unison: THAT'S DIFFERENT!
Certainly THSR has had it's share of scandals and such. But really, I think the worst that can happen on Friday is that the train will be canceled and I'll get my ticket refunded. Which brings me to this morning...

I had hoped that the mass hysteria would at least work in my favor trying to obtain a ticket on opening day. Arriving at THSR section of Taipei Main Station this morning I found a short line of about 10 to 15 people standing in front of the ticket windows - mostly young people about my age and the occasional guy in a business suit. The automatic vending machines were out of service at the time. A timetable was thrust into my hands by a security guard and after a wait of about 10 minutes I found myself in front of a very helpful ticket agent.

Me: I'd prefer an early train to Taichung for Friday. Oh, and round trip please.
Agent: The earliest train with open seats on Friday leaves Banciao at 9:25AM.

So it would seem that while the tickets haven't exactly been selling like hotcakes, they've managed to sell a decent amount. Many people are taking advantage of halved ticket prices during the trial period between 1/5 and 1/14. Word of advice for prospective business class travelers, make sure you let the ticket agent know you intend to travel business class as you begin the booking process.

And so, that is how I ended up with round trip standard class tickets from Banciao to Taichung for opening day (this Friday) for a total cost of NT$670 (US$20.57), though I did miss out on the commemorative tickets being sold yesterday. If all goes well, the trip to Taichung should take about 55 minutes there and back again, with 2 hours for me to poke around THSR Taichung Station (which I am told is located out in the boonies somewhere). I'll be gone from Taipei after breakfast and be back in time for lunch. Cool.

Time to go see the future.

Updated: Photo from Banciao Station where the lines are longer.

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1 comment:

Michael Turton said...

LOL. great post. Yes, the Taichung station is in Wu Erh, flat and empty, not even a warehouse to dot the great dusty plains. Too bad I have to teach the whole day....