How To Read A Bus Departure Board

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The departure board in Tianning’s downtown coach station.

My first year in Changzhou, I never left the city. I really didn’t have the confidence to get up from my computer and just go somewhere. I just drank beer at night and stared at Facebook updates. Trying not to be a shut-in came in steps. First, I just started taking random city buses to places and then turning around and coming back. Six months later, I got my first eBike, but the range wasn’t that far. I could go 30 kilometers, turn around and arrive home with a dead battery. Learning how to take the train came next, and they last thing was intercity coaches. Into my third Changzhou year, I have finally figured out long-distance buses.

It does, however, require a little — but minimal — knowledge of Chinese. For example, you have to know the characters of your destination. Jintan is 金坛. Yangzhou is 扬州. Yangzhong is 扬中,and so on. If you have a translation app on your fine, figuring this out is easy if you have done minimal planning.  Departure times in 24-hour format come next destination names.  One column lists prices, and the last one is important: how many seats are left. This set up is pretty much at most Changzhou terminals. The sole exception I have seen, so far, is in Jintan. No display board at all — that station is fairly old.

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