Ever think it might be fun to levitate?
But that's just fantasy stuff, right? The kind of thing we only see in movies, or magic shows. Not true, there is a place where floating in midair, and doing it at 200 miles per hour, is not only possible, it happens every day... many times.
Shanghai would be that place, and while the city has attracted travelers from around the world for centuries, those of us lucky enough to visit in the 21st century get the chance for a ride, suspended in air, on the fastest train in the world. Instead of rolling on rails, the train floats, or levitates, on a magnetic field. That's where it gets its name, Maglev, short for magnetic levitation.
When we were visiting Shanghai and heard about this seemingly magic machine, naturally we were on our way. A short jaunt on a traditional subway train took us to the Shanghai Transrapid Station, and a ride into the future. A nineteen mile trip to the Pudong International Airport that can take as little as eight minutes.
First thing we noticed about The Maglev was the completely different look of the "track" the train runs on.
Made of concrete, and up on pillars, it looks a lot like a monorail. Of course it's not really a track at all, since the train doesn't touch it.
Called a guideway, it is lined with electromagnetic coils, and the force that pushes two magnets apart lifts the train as it glides along.
The next thing to catch our eye was the train itself. Talk about a bullet train, this thing looks more like an airplane. And the inside is just as sleek as the aerodynamic outside.
As we moved out of the station, rapidly picking up speed, we watched the readout above the door indicating our acceleration. On our run to and from the airport The Maglev made it up to 301 kilometers per hour, just short of 200 miles per hour. This was actually a bit slow, often it will reach speeds of over 250 mph, and has set a record speed of 501 km/h, or 311 mph, on a test run.
But it certainly felt plenty fast, especially when we passed the train going the opposite direction at a combined speed of over 600 kilometers per hour. That mind blowing jolt came completely unexpectedly, the first time anyway, and sitting next to the window was the cause of at least one missed heartbeat.
WATCH: The Maglev is CRAZY fast!
On the return trip we were ready, or tried to be, but the blast of air, and the sound, was still shocking when our twin train blazed by.
We're not sure if that sort of shockwave is something that can ever become commonplace.
Safely back at the Transrapid Station, we had time to check out the train a little closer.
Our inspection turned up an example of what happens when an object meets a windshield at two hundred miles per hour. It definitely leaves a mark.
We're not sure how often these windows need to be replaced, but perhaps we should be surprised it doesn't happen every trip.
What does happen every trip is a magnetic miracle producing the fastest ride most humans will ever experience this close to the ground.
We may never look at refrigerator magnets the same again.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com