Beijing Backpacking , Day 22: The End of the Line; the Edge of Civilisation

If the city boxes you in, the end of the line always gives the edge-of-the-world feeling
If the city boxes you in, the end of the line always gives the edge-of-the-world feeling

A few months ago I talked about the ‘edge of civilisation’ allure associated with whatever lies on the edge of a printed map, even if in a big city. Strangely enough, if you look at the map, the place where my colleagues and I are engaged is an interchange station; and yet they often commented that they felt the place was in the middle of nowhere. Surely we can’t be that far out? If this place, which lies within the 4th Ring Road of Beijing (there are 6), feels like the middle of nowhere, then what about the end of the line?

Once playing catch-up with its rapid population growth, Beijing prefers to take the lead ahead of development nowadays. Which leads to all these interim periods whereby, for a moment in time, you can marvel at this brand new infrastructure that leads to nowhere. Seeing hollow, empty shells of buildings and wide roads and intersections in silence may not be your idea of beauty, but there is also something conducive to contemplation and deep thought in witnessing the eerie. It’s the perfect imaginary setting for a cyberpunk or post-apocalyptic scene. Of the perfect opportunity to capture a wrinkle in time and a place with an atmosphere that will be lost forever once the place realises its purpose. If the atmosphere is something worth preserving, that is.

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