AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Trains in China

Posted on Jun 29, 2014

China has the largest network of trains in the world, not surprising, since it is the third largest country in the world. Plane travel is on the rise and budget airlines do exist but for now trains address the workhorse of the nation. Main stations are located centrally with high speed stations being much further out of the cities, high speed trains are a recent phenomena. A great app to help you get around is called ‘China Trains’. With a quick search you can access the train number, time and price of your chosen route. Trains in China are relatively clean and run pretty much to schedule. The are powered by overhead electricity cables and run on standard gauge making the journey quieter and more comfortable than its Asian counterparts in Vietnam, Thailand and India. There are many types of trains in China. The train network is incredibly busy and the rolling-stock are nearly always full, regardless of destination or type of train. Recently, we took a day train and thus bought a hard-seat ticket, usually we take overnight trains, but this time the journeys were just 6 hours. As a result we have experienced nearly every type of train and also a range of ticket issuers. The last one having the brain the size of a pea. She was confused by the train number we wanted. Which would be understandable if it weren’t for the fact that the trains use the Latin alphabet, so it wasn’t a difficult request. The ticket issuer on the other hand looked as if she were trying to solve a Mensa puzzle. K-Trains (Sleeper Carriage) These are the backbone of the train system in China. They are Express trains and on average achieve 40mph over there journey including stops. They make regular stops and run the entire length of the country. Because they run such long distances they are almost always night trains and well over half the train is made up of sleeper carriages. A night train has many sleeper carriages with ‘hard sleeper’ consisting of bunks arranged into 6. They have bedding and a reasonably comfortable pillow. As long as you get on at the start of the journey, the bed linen will be clean. If you get on part way into the journey it’s best not to even consider as to whom was on the bed before. At the end of the bunk-beds there is an aisle with luggage storage above. In the aisle you have two small seats and a table – you have to sit sideways on these seats to allow people and food trolleys to pass. They...

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Annoying Chinese Trains

Posted on May 31, 2014

I suppose it’s actually my fault we’re on this train and not a better one, but I feel better blaming the company than myself. So why is it annoying? Well, because China is so huge many of the trains are sleeper trains (certainly almost all trains we’re taking are sleeper trains) but each bed only gets one set of bedding (a pillow and a quilt). So if the train starts elsewhere and has already being on the go over night the odds are you’ll get someone else’s used bedding! Four days ago we went to the train station to book the tickets to Xi’an from Chengdu. We found that every train leaving in the evening (about 4) was fully booked. That’s usually 16-18 carriages holding 40+ people in each carriage! The next night was fully booked too. Damm, that’s a lot of people on the move! So we looked at the day trains (leave during the day and arrive very early in the morning). There were only two trains available. It turns out the train I booked started in Kunming yesterday, so our beds have screwed up used bedding. Eugh! Annoyingly, this is the only train which doesn’t start in Chengdu. Every other train I could have picked would have had clean bedding and be better. The train is packed. As was every other train leaving Chengdu. It’s hard to comprehend so many people on the move, everyday! On the plus side the train has trolleys going up and down selling everything you may need. Meals, snacks, drinks, fruit, portable batteries for phones, headphones, books, tourist maps, etc. But, it’s cramped and sweaty in here. Plus, everyone travels with MASSIVE bags! Suitcases the size of children are normal. It’s a race to get the bags on the luggage rack before someone with a crazy sized bag gets on. We are also are at the end of the carriage, handy for the toilet and it also gives us some extra space, but that too has a downside. I can see three no smoking signs around the guy in front of me who’s smoking. There’s also a sign saying don’t put cigarette waste in the bin. He’s sat on a tiny stool by the bin flicking his ash into the bin! The staff don’t care… The Chinese eating habits are quite disgusting to our ears. The breaking open of nut shells with their teeth is something I complained about last time we used the Chinese train network, well, here I am again complaining about the same thing. Where the hell do these nuts come from? I don’t see any in the...

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