This past weekend saw the opening of a brand new cable car service to the top of Nanjing’s Purple Mountain, replacing the chair lift service that dated back to 1993.
A year in the making, and utilising only domestic technology to conquer the 448 metre peak, the new service features cable cars which, from a design perspective, are reminiscent of those that became accidental stars of the 1977 James Bond film “Moonraker”.
"The new cableway offers a 360 degree view, and with windows that can also open for ventilation, the summer ride is not so hot", a happy Mr. Lin, from Huaian in Jiangsu, told the Yangtze Evening Post.
Yet, the new cable car also exemplifies the price of progress.
For its predecessor was probably the single best journey you could make in Nanjing; despite some charming setbacks.
First there was the price; an extortionate ¥60, for which, given the quality of the whole enterprise, one would expect to be able to come close to acquiring materials for, and then building one’s own chair lift.
The previous chair lift also seemed to be manned by an unnecessarily large number of staff, although it should be added that this staff was unusually friendly.
Then there was the exhilarating danger of a chair lift that would contravene any known health and safety law; and, lest we forget, the quiet sense that genuine scientific discovery was going on in the background at China’s “cradle of astronomy”, Purple Mountain Observatory, at which the old chair lift made a stop.
This final feature of what was the city's most unusual commute is all that remains. And Nanjing is all the worse off for it.