Energy Diet

Slower, but Happier


I feel a little awkward when thinking about the topic of transportation on the diet, since I neither own a car nor plan to own one. That really restricts me when I want to tick more boxes on our checklist, doesn’t it? ; ) Seriously, I like the transportation conditions I have now, which means walking and bus mostly, and taxi in very urgent situations.

To let you know my situation, I have to tell you something about my city Harbin in my perspective. The urban area of Harbin is 2,089 square kilometers (806 square miles), which means I can take about one-hour on the bus from the east side to the west or from north to south if the road is not too busy.

So you see, it’s a quite small city as a provincial capital in China. What’s more, our university is just in the city center, so I can definitely get to a place by bus or even on foot if I’m not catching a ready-to-go train or something like that. In fact, there are few students who own a car at our university, or at other colleges in China as far as I know. It’s still a dream for most Chinese young people.

However, I have to say I’m quite satisfied with my transportation conditions now. Since I was a little child, I’ve loved strolling on street sides, lanes, river sides, or wherever else only if the air is clean the scenery is not bad. After I came to Harbin, I fell in love with this place, especially the summer here. I almost go out walking for about one hour every day since last month. Sometimes I walk to the side of Songhuajiang River and then take a bus back, or sometimes just nearby the campus.

When I walk past the old Russian-style buildings or look down from the arch bridges, I always feel so happy I haven’t called a taxi or gotten on a bus, where I would only see those beautiful things running so fast backward through a closed window. I wouldn’t be able to watch the old houses lying below the bridge; nor would I see the little grass rising around the trees. Walking gets me back to the corners of this city and let me get close to them so I know they are real.

Certainly when I’m in a hurry or it’s in frigid winter, I will take a bus instead of being late or suffering the coldness. Taking a bus gives me an opportunity to get out of my usual circle and be close to some “new” faces, though not for a long time. It’s also a treat for me, if the bus is not too crowded or caught in a traffic jam.

Maybe I have my own advantage that I’m in college, and students in college are less busy in China. I can enjoy my life more, and I can afford to walk or take a bus without worrying too much about time. If so, I will really thank goodness and enjoy the precious “now”.



  1. Christina Nunez
    June 27, 2011, 11:56 am

    I like the way you describe how get more out of the landscape when you are walking vs. driving. I think that’s true too. There have been a lot of news articles about how car ownership is really growing in China. Do you see the effects of this in Harbin?

  2. Zong Yu Dorm
    June 29, 2011, 10:01 am

    Yeah, I see it and honestly, it’s quite obvious. Owning a car is a dream for many young people and more and more families are buying or planing to buy cars. Besides, there is also car renting companies, which will provide you car rent service if you don’t own a car but want to drive one for holidays,etc. In fact, transportation system is not designed so well, plus the subway building program, traffic jams are almost inevitable in busy hours. That’s also why I don’t want to buy a car.