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Enjoying the peace of Beijing's airport express

Updated: 2022-11-03 08:39 ( China Daily )
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Rene Pastor. [Photo provided to China Daily]

I had just dropped off a friend at Capital Airport and we had split the cab fare.

Being a bit of a cheapskate, I decided to take the light rail express back to town. It only cost 25 yuan ($3.4) and you have to love bargains like that in Beijing.

The train pulled into the beetle-like station near Terminal 3 of the airport and I got on board.

The number of passengers numbered about 50 or so. It looked like a light day at the airport with many planes yet to land.

I could get a seat all to myself and spent some moments alone with my thoughts as the train began rumbling forward.

The air-conditioning aboard the cabin was just right, cool enough without being frigid.

One of the main things I noticed about the train was the quiet in the cabin. There is a church-like solemnity in the silence, like one was inside an old Gothic cathedral, somewhere in Europe.

The only things absent, of course, are the statues of the saints lining the walls that one would normally see in such a place.

The train from the airport chugged along soundlessly. At one point, we slipped into a tunnel and the scenery of the countryside vanished.

We eventually reappeared on the edges of Beijing, the shards of sunlight flitting in and out of the windows of the train.

There is a different sense when looking at the buildup of the traffic on the roads outside.

Pricey cars. Trucks. A bus here and there. Cabs.

The order imposed by the traffic lights on the snaking avenues as the vehicles patiently waited their turn to pass was mesmerizing to stare at.

All of it is part of the regular pattern of life in a city on a Monday afternoon — or any afternoon for that matter.

We finally approached Sanyuanqiao Station after about 20 minutes.

I got off and made my way to Line 10 and three stops later was at the stop half a kilometer away from China Daily.

From the airport to the stop near my apartment, a one-way journey had taken less than an hour.

It was late in September and although the sun still flashed some warmth, one could sense the cold, as the year, much like the train I just alighted from, followed its track to its wintery terminus.

Pretty soon, the leaves still clinging onto trees lining the road toward home would begin to fall and lend their clutter to the cobblestones.

I love kicking the leaves along, flicking with my feet at the crunchy detritus of another summer.

The whole ride from the airport had been convenient, comfortable and devoid of the maddening crowds of a rush hour seen in most trains around the world.

I easily remember the shoving and jostling of a cranky flood of passengers running off to their jobs on other stations of Line 10, let alone that of the E train in New York City.

The solitude and subdued silence of the light rail airport express in Beijing was more than welcome. It was plainly a delight.

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