Can you take a train from Suzhou to Hogwarts? Of course you cannot. Hogwarts and the Hogwarts Express exists only in the pages of J.K. Rowling’s wonderful Harry Potter novels. However, there is “Platform Nine and Three Quarters” at Guangjinan Station in Suzhou. This would be on Line 2 as part of Suzhou’s subway system.
Nine and Three Quarters is not the most magical or inspiring place in the Potterverse. After all, you have to pass through a solid concrete pillar to get to it. Not much happens there either. Parents put their kids on a train to wizarding school there. Even in magical world of J.K. Rowling’s fiction, train stations fail to be truly inspiring. However, think of how important the place is in Harry Potter’s life. It is here he departs for Hogwarts and a new life for the first time, and here is where the seven-novel series ends after he defeats Voldamort and the Death Eaters. He sends his youngest son off for magical training for the first time. Incidentally, this is where the new Harry Potter Broadway play also begins. So, while not inspiring, it is still an important place.
“Nine and Three Quarters Platform” in Suzhou can just be chalked up as another bit of seemingly random Chinese weirdness. Here, you can find two wall displays related to Potter’s world. Everything else looked shuttered and shut down. This could be because Spring Festival holidays are gearing up in Suzhou and around China. But, in the end, it’s just a strange and tiny underground shopping area.
Xinbei’s central park is filled with lots of absurd Chinglish, but that is not the only weird thing to be see. The park is filled with lots of trully strange signs detailing EMERGENCY! situations. These seem out of place. For example, one talks about water, and there is no sign of publicly available water. For a time, I thought it was just unique to Xinbei’s central park. However, I started seeing similar signs over in Xuejia’s park. I also saw similar things in Hongmei, downtown. Then, I started seeing in other city’s parks — like in Jiangyin last sunday. So, naturally, I started taking pictures.
For a laugh, I showed the pictures to a friend while we were having coffee. She laughed at them just as I had, but then she pointed out something I hadn’t thought of. Maybe these signs are not just randomly placed? Maybe some parks are designated as places to go if a real emergency did happen? After all, Sichuan has had earthquakes. Cities in the south of China have seen flooding. Typhoons seem to be getting stronger every year. Maybe this signs are set purposefully to denote where stations for water, garbage, toilets, and more should be set up should the park actually be needed in an emergency. Given the Chinese zeal for urban planning, it seems plausible to me. I tried Googling an answer, based on this theory, and I didn’t find one. At any rate, here are some of those park emergencies.