Ode to Overnight Trains in China

Night trains have become a common part of travel in China. I’ve adapted to the swaying, therapeutic rocking motion of a night’s sleep as well as sharing a bunk with strangers who have unfortunate staring issues. I feel as if I’m in a glass cage at times as fellow train passengers go out of their way to pass our bunks and see the white ones . There was even a couple of old chaps who sat on our bunks asking for a few pictures of us together. Perhaps we will wind up on their fireplace mantel one day?

The secret is to get bottom bunks, bring plenty of snacks and tea, and sleep as much as humanly possible. Hard sleepers are the way to go – a bit of culture as you are often among about dozens other Chinese locals. There are basically 64 other bunks shoved into one train car, piled three high (top, middle and bottom). We have a window that may or may not have curtains and if you are lucky, a pretty doily on the fold down shared table in the middle of the cart. Pillow and blanket are supplied although it is worth not thinking about whether they have been cleaned. Presumably not since I found a long dark hair on my pillow last night – not coming from my head unfortunately. On the plus side, hot water canisters are supplied for the tea lover in you as well as to heat up your pot noodles, the only thing worth eating on long train journeys. Little ladies also walk by pushing carts of who knows what type of food and offering souvenir bracelets just to remember your train travel a bit more. Bathrooms are dangerous. Avoid drinking at all costs at least three hours before boarding the train. Saying that, Cara and I have already downed two cups of tea . We have become avid tea junkies and are now carrying around our own supply of jasmine tea. Coffee, good strong espresso coffee, is only a mere dream.

We are now back in Chengdu. Sadly, we are parting from our wonderful travel buddies. Niki and Tim are heading west towards the Yunnan Province and Sonya and Harris are flying to India. The boys were fantastic travel buddies, especially Niki. Thanks for all the laughs and fun times guys. (and the pictures that I stole Niki!) It will be back to just Cara and I – scary to think since when the two of us are together we somehow get lost in the oddest places. Should be interesting though. We have one more day together and will see the pandas tomorrow! Lovable, cuddly pandas……