AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Train from Lhasa to Chengdu

Train from Lhasa to Chengdu

Posted on May 24, 2014

We continued our tour of Asia by leaving Lhasa by train. We would be taking the Qinghai – Tibet Railway, which at 5,072m is the highest railway in the world. It also goes through the highest railway station in the world, Tanggula railway station at 5,068m. Fenghuoshan tunnel is the highest rail tunnel in the world at 4,905m above sea level. And the section up to Golmud, over 600 miles of track (80%) is at an elevation above 4,000m. That’s an impressive list of records. We left Lhasa at 10am. Because the train journey would be 46hrs we had chosen soft sleeper. The benefits include; a proper cabin with a door, only 4 beds to a compartment not 6, a power socket, complementary slippers and control over the light switch (in hard sleeper the lights are turned off at 10pm and the carriage is in darkness). Our compartment had us two, and a girl from Hong Kong who’d just graduated as a doctor. Her English was pretty good. We spent the first few hours watching the scenery out the window. The train seemed to climb quite rapidly out of Lhasa and by mid afternoon we had reached the high point of just over 5,000m. A few compartments down a woman got very ill from the altitude and the doctor was with her for quite a while. The oxygen content in the carriages is higher than normal air and there are oxygen outlets everywhere to hook oxygen masks up the the supply for pure oxygen. The train also has a doctor onboard at all times for such eventualities. After a few stops we met the fourth person in our compartment. She was Chinese, pregnant and going back to her family home in Chengdu to give birth. She worked in the civil service and was typical of the Chinese policy in Tibet. Han Chinese are offered good pay and jobs to move to Tibet. This is generally to keep the Tibetan People out of key positions and to slowly overwhelm the locals with foreign, Chinese people. Another form of repression. As a person, she was nice, sharing yogurts and tomatoes with us. The restaurant car opened for food at 5:30pm. We went in and sat down and we were ignored by the staff for ages. Finally, someone came over. She spoke no English and the menu was in mandarin only. This was somewhat surprising as I’d expected the train to have a tourist element to it and some English. Luckily, we’d downloaded a list of dishes with the Chinese translation and we went through the list until the waitress pointed to...

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