The Haughtiest of Escalators

My pace is undeniably Manhattan.  Although Tokyo and Hong Kong offer similarly rushed/get the heck-outta-my-way gaits (though Tokyo gets top marks for actually obeying escalator etiquette), here’s a little beginner’s guide to China: TAKE THE STAIRS.  You won’t find a quieter place than a Chinese metro station stairwell.  Or, if there are two/three escalators going in one-direction, the masses always flock to whichever is “closest” to them.  And because no one dares to start a trend of making two paths on an escalator (although Hong Kong has its moments) or move away once finished using them,  if you are planning a move to somewhere in that part of the world, you will make quick pals with staircases.  I focus on these areas because I have spent a fair bit of time in them; many other places I have traveled to are no different (in their generalized lack of good escalator conduct), and that includes New York City.

Though, the purpose of this post isn’t to critique human nature upon its encounter with mechanized rectangular prisms, rather it is to mention a few proud escalators that inhabit East Asia.  The first of the triumvirate is termed “Central Mid-Levels Escalators.”  The common translation of the Chinese/Cantonese word for escalator (AND elevator) is 电梯 “electric ladder,” which sounds a bit more like chindogu than anything else (Link thanks to  Described as the world’s longest escalator system (besides me, and disciples of the Superlatives ‘R’ Us cult, who else is keeping track?), it was completed in late 1993 to reduce burgeoning traffic issues in the Central and Western districts of HK island.  Well, the promise hasn’t been kept, but a bevy of foreign restaurants and nightclubs opened up to coincide with the increase in pedestrian traffic.  Also, if you’ve got one of the convenient Octopus cards (a stored-value card) and are walking through part of the escalator system, there’s a place to swipe for a small rebate.

Hong Kong, Central-Mid Levels Escalators

Do you think all escalators have a raison d’être?  That is, would an escalator ever question its own existence?  If you think some would, you might want to have gulliver checked out.  Supposedly the world’s shortest escalator, you might have heard about Kawasaki, Japan’s puttering entry on the list, courtesy of VirtualTourist.  That it’s on a list of overrated attractions makes you wonder what else Kawasaki has going for it, but in case you’ve seen everything in Tokyo and Yokohama, there’s always the Odakaya More’s department store, where this diminutive can be found (unfortunately, due to the March 11th, 2011 disasters in Tohoku, Japan, the specimen was out of service.  I vow to return):

Kawasaki, Odakaya More’s Escalator

China wanted in on the fun too.  Quite possibly the longest escalator in Asia (not quite the world, but a good start, nonetheless), Chongqing’s rugged, hilly terrain greatly influenced its construction (as a result, if you tire of getting brushed by two-wheeled stereotypes on the mainland, but you  also want very strong calves, this may be the right city for you).  The system in question connects the main railway station in Caiyunba with smoggy neighborhood #444, or Lianglukou.  Unlike the other two misfits, there is an entrance fee of about ¥2, currently about US$0.31, or Indonesian Rp. 2, 967.

Chongqing, Caiyunba Escalator1

Chongqing, Caiyunba Escalator2

This entry was posted in China & Hong Kong, East & Southeast Asia, Japan, Non-Aviation Transit and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to The Haughtiest of Escalators

  1. ASP says:

    Sweet Fancy DelMonte; this blogger needs to relax. The next time I’m taking an escalator I’m going to stand still when I arrive at the top until the Domino effect kicks in. (so 2 paths become 1, big deal).

  2. jtdailyphoto says:

    “walking through part of the escalator system, there’s a place to swipe for a small rebate” now that’s cool! I wonder if anybody’s taken multiple trips to get extra rebates :p. And I think on your list of attractions to visit should be a curved escalator! 🙂

    • Oops, I should’ve clarified-I believe it’s no more than one swipe per day! Also, the Hong Kong escalator is free, so stand still at 17:30 and see what happens… oh, since you mention the curved escalators, I’ve been on ’em, in Shanghai and other places. Where have you enjoyed them?

  3. ASP says:

    ok need ELBOW clarification and jtdaily’s identity

  4. gkm2011 says:

    I just came back from HK and rode the Mid-Level escalator there – great invention! I’ve also ridden the curved ones you reference as well. Great post.

    • Thanks for visiting, gkm2011! Did you enjoy any of the sub-par non-local restaurants while you were in the greater Mid-Level escalators area?

      • gkm2011 says:

        Not this trip – I have friends who live towards the top and they hosted me for brunch – but I have in the past! Though when you live in China – those sub-par restaurants are still slightly better than average here.

  5. shb says:

    Don’t forget the memorable Wheaton station DC excelator. While it’s no Ocean Park HK system, it is the longest in the western hem

    • shb says:


      • Have you been on it? I did, to visit a Filipino-Salvadorean store. How about the ones in the Seattle Library, are those any good?

        *Excelator, an escalator that surpasses positive expectations. To use it in a sentence: There’s no way that the dc metro will ever have an excelator, unless the author changes its definition to meet negative expectations too.

  6. Clovis says:

    It’s just wrong that the Food Emporium escalator of fantabulium didn’t make it on your list of must-visits.

  7. Pingback: Looking for something different in Japan - Page 2 - FlyerTalk Forums

  8. Pingback: The 2015 Chinese New Year: The Year of the Escalator « buildingmybento

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