Thursday, April 14, 2011

China-Beijing-Beijing to Xi’an Train (Day 65)

We both were excited about the idea of taking a train but knew it would be crazy.  Over the past year I’d asked everyone we meet who had been to China about the trains.  One kind sole had said “The deluxe soft sleeper is totally worth it but it is hard to get as it is often reserved for dignitaries and what not.”  Well I’d found a booking service online for train tickets ( and figured out they charged about $40 to buy a pair of tickets for the train and deliver them to your hotel.  They had three choices: Deluxe Soft sleeper $298, Soft sleeper $176, and Hard Sleeper $120.  The Deluxe is 2 berth with bathroom and the others are 4 berth and a shared train bathroom.  The website also said tickets go on sale 10 days before the date of departure.  In 1994 while traveling in Europe I’d had sunglasses stolen on a train so I knew I would not sleep if our luggage wasn’t secure so I went big spender on the deluxe soft sleeper.

The ticket company had delivered the tickets to our hotel the day before and there we stood in the Beijing train station with our large amount of luggage and train tickets in hand which were mostly in Chinese.    


We found our train on the board and went to the boarding area.  It was insane!  I felt we were in over our heads here given the volume of luggage we had.  Since we are traveling for so long to climb, trek, and Anja working we have lots of luggage about (80 kg in total).  Pretty much it felt like we were in a crowd at a major sporting event about to head into a stadium only we were pulling luggage getting bummed around with everyone pushing.  My stomach was churning; how did this work?  Did we have assigned seats?  At this point we were feeling lucky if we just got on the right train.  We were quickly preparing mentally for a long night.  We surfed through the crowd with our luggage like fish to the train and took our best hope that 11 08 and 11 07 on our tickets were a car and seat number.  We found car 11 and someone was guarding the entrance.  She had just turned someone away; good signs for the high rollers.  I showed her our ticket and she took us on and unlocked a door.  I don’t know that I have ever been so excited about the extra expenditure of $122.  We had a private room with two beds, a chair, a kettle of hot water, a private bathroom, and a door that LOCKS!


Anja sitting in the chair holding the airplane style bathroom open.


Our bunk beds for the night.  Figuring out where to get off the train was a little nerve racking as I did not remember the exact time the train arrived or if we would still be in the same time zone.  Luckily, had the right idea and was ready when we got there Anja was of course passed out a sleep pretty hard on the bed.  We got off the train and were definitely out of western pockets but had made it to Xi’an.  Lots of people trying to target us to make a buck; guess that is what happens when you step off the high roller car.  We got out of the train station and had no idea where we were and nor where our hotel was; a feeling I hate.  After a little wondering around the outside the huge train station we concluded the best idea was to walk to a large hotel and catch a cab from there.  We grabbed a green and brown cab and got to the hotel.  Our hotel was definitely out of typical pockets but was very nice and big.


We headed out to dinner and ended up at a Korean BBQ place that spoke no English and no English menu.  Things were clearly going to be tougher in Xi’an.


On an up note I finally found some dark beer although it was a little strange but still nice. 

No comments: