Category Archives: Jintan

From Wujin to Jintan

In the Changzhou prefecture, how many train stations are there?

This question was part of a bar trivia quiz I wrote a and hosted a couple of years back. Most people got the answer wrong. Because of the word “prefecture,” you have to include the city of Liyang into the count. Funny thing about that: it’s on a line to Nanjing, but there is no direct link between the municipalities of Liyang and Changzhou. So, back then, if you made a list of all the stations, it would be: Changzhou (downtown), Changzhou North (Xinbei), Qishuyan, and Liyang. Well, that was years ago, but recently the number four became incorrect.

The number of high speed rail stations in Changzhou is currently six. Wujin got a brand spanking new station.

As did Jintan. They are part of a new railway line that opened this year.

Photo “borrowed” from Shanghai Daily

Technically, this map is not right. The terminal station isn’t Taicang, Suzhou prefecture. Actually, Shanghai is the most common final stop.

I have taken an active interest in this new high speed line for one particular reason. The university I teach for moved its Changzhou campus from Xinbei to Jintan. Myself and other Hohai employees knew this was coming for years, and fall semester, 2023 is when it finally happened. I was confronted with a choice: either move to Jintan or commute.

I absolutely didn’t want to leave where I currently live in Tianning, Without divulging too much personal information, I didn’t want to uproot myself from personal relationships and friendships that took years to cultivate. I knew the rail line was coming, and I had this romantic notion that I could take the train every time I needed to go teach classes. And I could do that while playing games on my Nintendo Switch! So, on a recent day off, I decided to actually test that potential commute by taking a train from Wujin to Jintan and back.

For the most part, this leg of the route actually parallels the toll highway one would take if driving from Changzhou to Nanjing’s international airport.

Out the other side of the train, there is a view of the Xitaihu community on the north side of Ge Lake that zipped by. All in all, the ride from Wujin was a little over ten minutes.

So, it wasn’t long before I saw the newly familiar sight of my university’s new campus. It was only like a 10 to 12 minute ride. So, the question is this: is taking a train from Wujin to Jintan worthwhile if you got business to be done in Changzhou’s western most district?

The answer is simply no. It maybe a 2 RMB price difference but travelling to Jintan from Wujin is cheaper than the other way around. I asked a friend of mine who is a huge train, architecture, and infrastructure nerd how this could be. He answered simply: lesser frequented stations will actually charge a little bit more. In short, in the journey from Shanghai to Nanjing on this line, the train stops more in Wujin than it does Jintan. I certainly saw this first hand because I tried to buy a return ticket as soon as I arrived. I had to wait three hours for the next departing train. I did that, and while doing so I saw a lot of trains blowing through the district and not stopping.

The upper level unfinished track actually suggest a north-to-south line connecting Liyang to Changzhou proper are in the plans, at some point.

The train station is actually in the middle of nowhere. I’d estimate that Jintan’s downtown area and Hohai University on the northern banks of Changdang Lake 长荡湖 are ten minutes drive by car. Add additional commute time if you are hailing and waiting for a car or taxi to pick you up. A traveler can take a public bus from here to other parts of the district. However, it’s a well known fact that public busses go a lot slower than cars. Collectively thinking about all of that, it’s easy to conclude that taking the train to Jintan for a day trip or commuting to work is not exactly convenient. This is especially true since the primary employer of foreigners in this part of Changzhou is a German industrial park, but that is actually an exit on the Jinwu Expressway connecting Jintan to Wujin.

Simply, put: travelling by car to Jintan is still the most time efficient and convenient way to get to this part of the city. So, once the three hours were over and I was finally on my way back to Wujin’s station and its subway stop, I realized that playing my Nintendo Switch going to and from work was a wholly unrealistic fantasy.


This was originally published in 2017.

I once asked a Chinese friend why many cemeteries were located in out of the way places. “Plenty of reasons. Feng Shui is one. If you are putting somebody into the ground, there should be a mountain behind them and water out in front.” He took a sip of his beer “Also, some of us are a afraid of ghosts and we don’t like going near those places. The only reason to go is to pay homage to a relative or ancestor.” So, as I have said before, cemetery walks — where you take a stroll around a graveyard even when you don’t know anybody there — may be common in America, but they certainly are not in China.

Recently, I visited the Revolutionary Martyr’s Cemetary in Jintan. Much like many burial spaces in Eastern Changzhou, it seemed in a more remote location. This one was located far away from Dongmendajie, the commercial center of this western-most district of the Dragon City.

There is a wall with the names of all the Jintan people who died fighting the nationalist KMT during the Civil War / Revolution.

The people here are in ground plots. This is unlike the Martyr’s Memorial in Tianning, where long hallways have urns stored on shelves.

There is a museum dedicated to the local history of the war. When I went, it was closed. It was also Spring Festival, so I don’t know if it is always closed, or if it was closed for the holidays.

And, then you have the standard monument pillar. That’s pretty much all to see here. However, there are a few other things in the vicinity. There is Baota Temple and Gulongshan Park nearby. Getting here actually takes a lot of effort. Since Jintan, as a district, is so far away from the rest of Changzhou, you have to take a one hour intercity bus to just get to their coach station. A visitor could either take a taxi here, or they can walk. I walked. And my feet hated me for that.


This was originally published in 2016.

Wisdom proverbs are a big part of a Chinese culture. So are poets and their writings. Sometimes, the two converge and overlap. For example, there is this idiom: 磨杵成针, or Mó chǔ chéng zhēn in Pinyin. If you translate it almost literally its “Grind pestle into needle.” More commonly, it means “To grind an iron bar into a needle.” This saying is often used to say persevering at a hard task is worthwhile.

This proverb is often attributed to Li Bai, who is often considered one of the greatest poets in Chinese history. The story goes like this. Li Bai, at a young age, came upon on an old woman who literally was trying to grind a thick iron bar into a thin needle. The poet-to-be took the iron bar and tried to do it for the old lady, but he eventually gave up quickly. Li told the woman she was being foolish — that it would take forever to do such a thing.  The old woman chided the young Li and reminded him that hard work can lead to good results. The young boy took that to heart and grew up to be one of China’s greatest poets. Eventually, “grinding an iron bar” also became a metaphor for succeeding at something hard.

As for the statue pictured above, it can be found in Jintan — Changzhou’s most westward district. It’s one of three idiom statues that can be found at Jintan’s Hua Luogeng Park 华罗庚公园. The district’s central shopping area, Dongmendajie 东门大街is nearby. The bus terminal, and the express bus back to downtown Changzhou, is also in walking distance.