Experiencing China for the first time
By Julian Burkinshaw
Soaring above the world for nearly 15 hours puts into perspective the distance one must travel to attend the 14th World Conference on Transportation Research, and a journey that really pulled at the moral fibres of a transport geography researcher, who considers growing air travel problematic.
However, and perhaps with blatant disregard for the associated environmental issues, needs must!
After ‘overcoming’ these troubles, attention turned to the enormity of the city I could see out of the small aeroplane window. A city of seemingly never-ending sprawl, with an impressive juxtaposition of developments mirroring those of opposite ideological handbooks – capitalist and communist. The former producing stunning, shiny buildings, with the latter developing repetition and conformity.
Navigating the Bund was interesting and colourful, both during the day and at night. During the evening the river evolves into a hub of tourism, in stark contrast to during the day. The only downside to the skyline sightseeing cruise were the emissions from the boat: clouds of dark, black smoke – with these both choking and sticking to the passengers.
Guoquan road. My first experience of a Chinese metro system… and a wonderful experience at that. Clean, crisp and perfectly on time! Conformity runs rife again here, with entry and exit onto the metro outlined on the floor. The system is extensive, quick, and cheap, offering a great opportunity to explore the extremities of a city that is as crazy and complex as it is serene and simple.
Having experienced the wonderful simplicity and complexity of the city over the previous couple of days, it was now time for work, concentration and focus…
I survived. The experience and feedback received was invaluable, with an interesting discussions around how to present qualitative data in front of those familiar with quantitative methodologies. Presenting at and being part of such an enormous international conference for the first time is something I will never forget, and an experience I strongly advise any PhD researcher to be engulfed within.