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Following our Japan trip in May 2017 we all returned to Hong Kong, after which Craig and Sonia headed home and Wendy and I headed to Shenzhen in China. 

I have mentioned both these locations as a result of previous travels.  They form what is effectively a single conurbation divided by the Hong Kong/Mainland border and this line also divides the population economically and in terms of population density.

These days there is a great deal of two way traffic between the two.  It's very easy if one has the appropriate passes; and just a little less so for foreign tourists like us.  Australians don't need a visa to Hong Kong but do need one to go into China unless flying through and stopping at certain locations for less than 72 hours.  Getting a visa requires a visit to the Chinese consulate at home or sitting around in a reception room on the Hong Kong side of the border, for about an hour in a ticket-queue, waiting for a (less expensive) temporary visa to be issued.

With documents in hand it's no more difficult than walking from one metro platform to the next, a five minute walk, interrupted in this case by queues at the immigration desks.  Both metros are world class and very similar, with the metro on the Chinese side a little more modern. It's also considerably less expensive. From here you can also take a very fast train to Guangzhou (see our recent visit there on this website) and from there to other major cities in China. 

There are several pictures taken on the metro in Guangzhou in that album. Both the Shenzhen Metro and the Hong Kong MTR are similar from a commuter's standpoint.  Everything is very modern with: good lighting and air-conditioning; platform glass barriers; lots of shiny metallic surfaces; lifts; and escalators. 

 

The Guangzhou Metro (with 186 stations) is technically very similar those larger networks in Shanghai (364 stations)
and Shenzhen (with 199 stations).  Hong Kong MTR has 93 similar rail and 68 integrated light rail (tram) stops

 

More about Trains - for those interested

All China's trains use 'Standard Guage', unlike Australia's farcical differences between States.  Most Mainland metros use 1,500 V DC, as do the majority of Hong Kong MTR tracks, while the older but also huge Beijing Subway (with 345 stations  - growing steadily), employs only half that voltage, like the MTR light rail. 750V is safer in public streets but puts a limit on top speed, like Melbourne's trams on only 600V DC. 

Thus the newest and longest MTR lines, like the partially completed Hung Hom line, employ 25,000 V AC, in harmony with China Railway High-speed (CHR) services.

These were originally based on Japan's Shinkansen  (see Japan) and initially the train sets were imported from Japan but in 2004 public outrage over using Japanese manufactured rolling stock led to increased domestic production, in turn to independent technological development (still in cooperation with Kawasaki Heavy Industries).  Now the 'China Standardized EMU' train-set, introduced in 2016, has a regular operational speed of 350 km/h (217 mph) but the CRH380BL train-set has attained a test speed of 487.3 km/h (302.8 mph), a considerable improvement on the Japanese train-sets.

With eight horizontal and eight vertical lines, totalling 12,000 km, forming a rough grid over the map of China and regular operating speeds of up to 400km/h China's is by far the most extensive and advanced high speed rail network in the world. 

 

 

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Travel

Israel

 

 

 

2023 Addendum

 

It's a decade since this visit to Israel in September 2014.

From July until just a month before we arrived, Israeli troops had been conducting an 'operation' against Hamas in the Gaza strip, in the course of which 469 Israeli soldiers lost their lives.  The country was still reeling. 

17,200 Garzan homes were totally destroyed and three times that number were seriously damaged.  An estimated 2,000 (who keeps count) civilians died in the destruction.  'Bibi' Netanyahu, who had ordered the Operation, declared it a victory.

This time it's on a grander scale: a 'War', and Bibi has vowed to wipe-out Hamas.

Pundits have been moved to speculate on the Hamas strategy, that was obviously premeditated. In addition to taking hostages, it involving sickening brutality against obvious innocents, with many of the worst images made and published by themselves. 

It seemed to be deliberate provocation, with a highly predictable outcome.

Martyrdom?  

Historically, Hamas have done Bibi no harm.  See: 'For years, Netanyahu propped up Hamas. Now it’s blown up in our faces' in the Israel Times.

Thinking about our visit, I've been moved to wonder how many of today's terrorists were children a decade ago?  How many saw their loved ones: buried alive; blown apart; maimed for life; then dismissed by Bibi as: 'collateral damage'? 

And how many of the children, now stumbling in the rubble, will, in their turn, become terrorists against the hated oppressor across the barrier?

Is Bibi's present purge a good strategy for assuring future harmony?

I commend my decade old analysis to you: A Brief Modern History and Is there a solution?

Comments: 
Since posting the above I've been sent the following article, implicating religious belief, with which I substantially agree, save for its disregarding the Jewish fundamentalists'/extremists' complicity; amplifying the present horrors: The Bright Line Between Good and Evil 

Another reader has provided a link to a perspective similar to my own by Australian 'Elder Statesman' John MenadueHamas, Gaza and the continuing Zionist project.  His Pearls and Irritations site provides a number of articles relating to the current Gaza situation. Worth a read.

The Economist has since reported and unusual spate of short-selling immediately preceding the attacks: Who made millions trading the October 7th attacks?  

Money-making by someone in the know? If so, it's beyond evil.

 

 

A Little Background

The land between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea, known as Palestine, is one of the most fought over in human history.  Anthropologists believe that the first humans to leave Africa lived in and around this region and that all non-African humans are related to these common ancestors who lived perhaps 70,000 years ago.  At first glance this interest seems odd, because as bits of territory go it's nothing special.  These days it's mostly desert and semi-desert.  Somewhere back-o-Bourke might look similar, if a bit redder. 

Yet since humans have kept written records, Egyptians, Canaanites, Philistines, Ancient Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, early Muslims, Christian Crusaders, Ottomans (and other later Muslims), British and Zionists, have all fought to control this land.  This has sometimes been for strategic reasons alone but often partly for affairs of the heart, because this land is steeped in history and myth. 

Read more: Israel

Fiction, Recollections & News

Remembering 1967

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1967 is in the news this week as it is 50 years since one of the few referendums, since the Federation of Australia in 1901, to successfully lead to an amendment to our Constitution.  In this case it was to remove references to 'aboriginal natives' and 'aboriginal people'.

It has been widely claimed that these changes enabled Aboriginal Australians to vote for the first time but this is nonsense. 

Yet it was ground breaking in other ways.

Read more: Remembering 1967

Opinions and Philosophy

The Hydrogen Economy

 

 

 

 

Since I first published an article on this subject I've been taken to task by a young family member for being too negative about the prospects of a Hydrogen Economy, mainly because I failed to mention 'clean green hydrogen' generated from surplus electricity, employing electrolysis.

Back in 1874 Jules Verne had a similar vision but failed to identify the source of the energy, 'doubtless electricity', required to disassociate the hydrogen and oxygen. 

Coal; oil and gas; peat; wood; bagasse; wind; waves; solar radiation; uranium; and so on; are sources of energy.  But electricity is not. 

Electricity (and hydrogen derived from it) is simply a means of transporting and utilising energy - see How does electricity work? on this website.

Read more: The Hydrogen Economy

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