china – What is special about the area 30 km west of Beijing?

The map is correct. Beijing literally is there in the east.

Traditionally, Beijing is the dense area, consists of Xicheng and Dongcheng districts, with Forbidden City in the center. Right inside the 2nd Ring Road (二环路). Every Beijing natives and every tourists still call that the city center of Beijing.

But, in 2019, Beijing municipal government moved to Tongzhou 通州 District, a new area specially designed for administration, called “the city’s subsidiary center” (城市副中心).

The Chinese capital has planned for years to shift its administrative
center out to the outer Tongzhou district in an effort to rein in
population growth, traffic congestion and air pollution in Beijing’s
denser inner districts. Caixin report

Maps are taking different display measure. For example, Baidu Map still shows the old city center at low zooming levels, but if zoom in to Tongzhou District, you would see (the Chinese of) Beijing Municipal Government, quite away from Beijing “Proper”:

Baidu map screenshot

Answers about distortion maps are wrong. There is distortion with maps in China, but that is about 100m, not with 30 km.

china – What is the closest city I can go from a bullet train departing from Beijing?

The trains you want are either “G trains” or “C trains”.
They are both rated at up to 350 kph but G designations are for longer distances and C for shorter routes.
Some information on types and speeds here

“Shorter” is relative. You can get 2 hours G train journeys.
The above page notes

  • G – High-Speed Electric Multiple Units (EMU) Train
    This is the fastest running for long distance in China, the top speed of which could reach 350km/h. Currently, the G-train could finish the 1,068-kilometers Wuhan-Guangzhou High-Speed Railway in 3 hours, the 301-kilometers Shanghai-Nanjing High-Speed Railway in 73 minutes and the 458-kilometers Zhengzhou-Xian High-Speed Railway in 2 hours.

BUT – the definitive guide to how to travel to anywhere from anywhere by train is “The man in seat 61” – be sure to find out where the name comes from :-).

This Seat-61 page tells you just about all there is to know about Chinese train travel.

For a short (75 miles) sharp (30 minutes!) trip (150 mph average) look about half way down that long page for Beijing – Tianjin by train where it says:

  • High-speed 350 km/h C-category trains (sometimes known as Hexie trains) link Beijing South Station & Tianjin every 10-20 minutes, taking just 30 minutes for the 120 km (75 miles) journey. Simply use www.chinahighlights.com/china-trains to find specific train times. The fare is around RMB 58 (£6 or $9) for a 2nd class seat, RMB 69 (£7 or $10) in a first class seat. It’s easy enough to buy tickets at the station on the day of travel.

There will be other routes, but that seems to suit your requirement well.


MAGLEV!!!

For the fastest of all journeys you could take a G train to Shanghai and THEN take the “Maglev” train to the Pudong International airport. Under a 15 minute journey as I recall but daytime speeds of up to 430 kph (they say). The onboard speed gauge and actual train speed seem to not always quite match so actual speed may vary but you will find it very very very fast and noticeably faster than anything else. Cars on the adjacent motorway crawl along at 100 kph as you leap upon them from behind (figuratively anyway) and hurtle past in seconds. Marvellous !
I once got to travel the route 3 times in one day due to travel circumstances. Yee ha :-).

Strangely, Seat-61 seems to not mention the Maglev – maybe it’s not considered a train if it floats in the air with no wheels :-).

Maglev journey video here – looks so smooth it’s almost boring. Great fun in practice. Wikipedia page

Note that maximum speeds vary with time of day due to noise considerations.
According to the Wikipedia page, full speed runs are only from 9-10:45 am and 3-3:45 pm.
Check current arrangements when travelling.


Maglev speed estimation:

I tried using photos and vehicles on a motorway to estimate speed.
If you estimate vehicles as travelling at maximum speed limit you can note the distances they travel per frame and/or per time and compare this to how long the train takes to cover the same distance. There is a significant amount of uncertainty due to parallax errors, different positions of view and deciding where the train is relative to the roadway in any given photo. It gave me results of “about 4 x car speed” which should be ‘about correct’. My DSLR camera will take 12 frames per second when desired, which helps maximise material to take comparison photos from.

I have used this method with reasonable (apparent) success in the past to estimate vehicle speeds on motorways either overtaking us at at high speed or approaching.
For overtakers you simply estimate the time taken for you and them to reach a then distant point starting from the moment they pass you. For oncoming traffic similar but rearranged. Works to within error of estimation of distant location, timing and your mean speed.

china – What is special about the area 30km west of BeiJing?

A geocaching map of the BeiJing area, shows an unusual pattern:

enter image description here

Almost all the geocache sites (green circles) are clustered in an area 30km or so to the west of BeiJing, with almost no sites in the capital itself or other surrounding territory.

What is so special, either from a native or tourist perspective, about this area that would cause this phenomenon?

Why does the T109 night train from Beijing to Shanghai have such a long stop at Xuzhou?

I read on https://www.china-travel-guide.net/trains/T109/ (mirror) the following schedule for the T109 night train from Beijing to Shanghai:

Station No. Station Name Arrive Time Depart Time Stop Time
1 Beijing —- 20:05 0 mins
2 Tianjin West 21:29 21:31 2 mins
3 Cangzhou 22:28 22:30 2 mins
4 Dezhou 23:37 23:40 2 mins
5 Xuzhou 3:43 4:11 28 mins
6 Nanjing 7:43 7:50 7 mins
7 Changzhou 9:03 9:07 4 mins
8 Wuxi 9:33 9:37 4 mins
9 Suzhou 10:02 10:06 4 mins
10 Shanghai 11:00 11:00 0 mins

Why does the T109 night train from Beijing to Shanghai have such a long stop at Xuzhou?

air travel – Flying from Beijing to Istanbul through Amsterdam in mid January: if the flight is cancelled, what are my options?

Unfortunately this depends a lot on the details of your specific ticket. I’ll answer it assuming you actually have a layover in the Netherlands so that EU 261 applies.

Do airlines usually issue a ticket refund in case of cancellations due to COVID?

In most countries they are legally required to give you full refund. However, many airlines will try to avoid this by offering you a voucher instead. Many of this vouchers are poor value: do NOT accept them. You may have to insist and threaten legal action to get your refund.

Do they also allow a reschedule of a flight in case of cancellation?

They often do, if it’s available at low cost to them.

If so, what is the flexibility there? E.g. can they give us a flight of a different airline? Do we have a say about which flight we get?

In most cases you do NOT need to accept a reschedule. You don’t really have a say, but you can certainly try to negotiate with the airline for better conditions.

Can we choose between the refund and the reschedule?

Typically yes.

Where can I read about such policies on our ticket? They don’t really write too much on the booking confirmations and airlines websites…

That is tricky because the rules and laws that governs this is an intersection of the airline policies and local laws in the countries involved. Since your itinerary currently goes through the Netherlands, you are currently covered by regulation EU 261 (https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/passenger-rights/air/index_en.htm) However if you get rerouted through a non EU country, this wouldn’t apply any more, so you need to research all applicable laws in China, Turkey and any layover country.

Are we still getting compensated for the ticket in full if only one leg of the journey gets cancelled but not the other?

Generally yes. You can’t fly the itinerary as booked, so it’s invalid. Again, the airline may still try to talk you into accepting a voucher or rerouting.

Now I realise the answers may vary from airline to airline. What I am looking is a general rule-of-thumb advice from experienced travellers.

Unfortunately there is little “rule of thumb” here since there is an almost infinite combination of airline rules, specific ticket conditions, and local laws in the countries involved.

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