I love the MTR, it’s absolutely fabulous, I can get to pretty much anywhere with the train. There are buses that arrive and depart on time and taxi’s that are not over priced and safe to drive in. But more on them later.
Now Namibia, my beloved country, and South Africa are very similar in many ways. Neither country has a very good public transport system. There are buses, mini buses and taxi’s. Buses are often running late or stuck on strike, but invariably at some stage they will be late. Taxi’s are not always the greatest in SA or in Nam, actually they can be rather scary to drive in.
To be honest I have never been in a taxi back home, they are not the safest and I’ve been lucky enough to have friends and family able to give me a lift or loan me a car. In SA we have one high-speed train, The Gautrain, now its lovely and all that but it is super expensive and is only in Gauteng with stations between JHB and PTA. The commuter ‘rush’ has nothing on the rush here in Hong Kong. But then, nor does the Gautrain.
The MTR has several payment options; a one-way ticket, an Octopus card and some of the banks even seem to have a special Octopus card. The Octopus card seems to save about HKD 1-3 every trip compared to the one way ticket. Now as I said in an earlier post it was the first thing I bought on arrival in Hong Kong. Best purchase ever!
Since my first trip on the MTR on Orientation day I have used the train almost daily. I use it to go to my centre in the New Territories every day, I actually have to switch lines every day. I’ve now been on it when it is super busy and when it is super quiet.
My lovely ex-colleague and friend Nontobeko was chatting to me on skype and I was telling her about the MTR. Something she reminded me of is that we have all seen movies shot in Asia showing masses of people jammed into the trains and on the streets. I never really thought of it but I realise that like her I always thought that they over dramatised it to make it look bigger. I have to say though that since then I have literally been in a train several times where we were jammed into a car like sardines. The movies give the right image, there are people jammed on top of each other.
The trains run smoothly and usually within 2-3 mins of each other, yet for some reason you will see people literally running to the train and almost getting squashed by the doors just to be on the train leaving that very minute.
Now ignoring all of that horrible imagery of sardines, the MTR is really quiet marvellous. The system is vast, it reaches all the way to the HK/China border and goes to the Island. The lines are colour coded and you can always tell which station you are at as the trains will always tell you. The stations are also colour coded and during busy times you will see marshals making sure that no one gets too close to the train.
For more information on the Octopus card go here: