The Hangzhou Metro was supposed to open in October. October 2011, that is. Would’ve been nice. Its planned route goes right near our house and out to the train station and other points east, potentially making trips and errands quicker, easier and less dangerous. The taxi situation here is nothing short of horrendous: there aren’t enough cabs, or, as one of Nick’s teachers put it, “The problem is not that there are not enough cabs. It’s just that there are too many people.” Since moving here, we (and many others) have been understandably excited about the prospect of a subway system.
Well, it’s November now, and the thing is still not open. The whole of it is like the Big Dig, but really, really long and skinny, and possibly more disruptive. Bigger, diggier. Construction crews work around the clock, slowly and painstakingly, digging holes with spoons and laying the same concrete three times when the first and second applications crack. There is much hubbub about test runs, and pictures of the shiny trains and sleek stations are popping up in news articles and on expat forums like papparazzi shots. But, alas, the holes are still holes and the earth movers remain.
And then a miracle occurred. On a walk yesterday through the most viciously torn-up area, I happened upon the closest station, LongXiangQiao Zhan. It popped up literally overnight. The sight of its bleach-white entrance and smart red letters made me quite literally swoon. Its gates remain closed, and the floor is spotted with chunks of concrete and unused hardhats, but it’s there. And, holy, it’s beautiful. Maybe we’ll ride this train after all.