I wanted to put “Life on the subway in China”, but I think what I am about to right is indicative to most countries in Asia, (not all). When I was in China, a lot of my time was spent on the subways. I am talking the minimum of 3 hours a day just to go to work and come back home, so at any point in time you want to go meet up with someone in Sanlitun (Foreigners District) or some place like that, you are probably going to have to add on an additional hour or two to that traveling time. The things you go through on a day to day basis on the trains in certain parts of Asia, is a hassle and can get very uncomfortable at times. Not only that, but sometimes you are going to have to throw an elbow at someone every now and then. Let me tell you what I experience on an average day.
If I had to get up early in the morning to go somewhere, I would have to wait on a long line and most of the people in that line are pushing and shoving. Some of them are hopping the rails and cutting in front of people and nobody says anything. The people in China are NOTORIOUS for cutting in front of people in a line. I remember I was at the airport in Shenzhen China and everyone is waiting in line for taxis to arrive, and this Chinese guy cut in front of an interracial couple in front of me (White man and Chinese woman). The white male went off on him in Chinese and told him to get into the back of the line, but you can tell that the way he was yelling at him that he was frustrated and tired of having to deal with that all the time. So anyways, I would have to wait in a long line to go through a bag scanner. I would always carry a backpack, so I would put that through the scanner and women would put their purses through the scanner as well. A lot of males had man purses in China and put their man purses through the scanners lol. In the morning time, just going through that line may take up to 7 – 10 minutes at times, and people are shoving and pushing the entire time. You get up to the waiting area by the train and you may have to wait in a line to enter through the sliding doors on the train. There are several doors so there are several lines. If you are at a train station where there’s a high number of people that go through that station everyday, you may have to fight your way onto that train.
I am sorry I don’t have pictures of this, but when the train arrives and you are standing in line, there are usually two separate lines for one door so that the passengers on the train can come out in between both lines. People start to enter the train while the passengers are coming off and they are pushing their way onto the train if they see that there is a bunch of people on board. Sometimes when a train has arrived, you are not always going to be able to get on to that train and you will have to wait for the next one. That’s why some people squirm their way onto the train and will literally suck in their bellies or hang from the top of the handrails just to make it on that train because they might be running late for work or wherever it is they have to attend to.
When I first got to China, people cut in front of me and I have been shoved out the way before on the train, and once I started to experience that, it was game on. I would have to elbow and shove people out the way all the time because of how they did me, and that is just the way it is to get by out there. There have been times where I was at a train stop and it was the weekend and it wasn’t busy at all, and I would be standing in the front of the line and people would still cut in front of me or shove me just to get onto an empty train. So if you plan on going out there, you are going to have to be somewhat of a savage. Try not to bring your children on the train. People are respectful towards people who have children, they give up their seats for the child to sit down, but the way it is on the train might be a bit much for them.
You have all types of different characters on the train. Most of the time, you are going to run into people who pick their noses on the train and flick the boogers on the floor. They will do this on a crowded subway and nobody will say anything to them. You will be around people who stink and they are pressed up against you, and there is nowhere to go. You might be next to someone who is talking loud on their cellphones on the train and their breath is horrendous and there is nowhere to go. There are people who get on the trains who beg for money and these people are seriously handicapped and it is a sad site to see. Most of the people who ask for money have had their limbs blown off, I have seen people who had 3rd degree burns all over their bodies, blind people, people with severe scars and rashes all over their body, it is crazy. While they are asking for money from everybody, they are playing sad music on their small radio that they carry, and they usually sing a long with the song to pull at people’s heart strings. People spit on the train, people sell things on the train, it is a lot that goes on but I have never been in a situation where I felt like my life was in danger. At the same time, dealing with this for hours and hours a day is a headache. To avoid this, take the taxi or move right next to your job.