We just got into the Lotus Hostel here in Beijing after our 48 1/2 hour train ride from Lhasa. The train was quite fun. Zoe really enjoyed it, and didn’t want off. The first day we checked out of our hotel in Lhasa where Tsering (our guide) met us and a bus came to drive us to the train station. At the station we were the only people waiting in the “soft sleeper” luxury area of the waiting area. We thought it would be a good sign to get our own berth, but not so much. There were 2 cars of soft sleepers and all had people in them…they weren’t all full, so some people lucked out with there own. The couple that shared with us were very nice, though, so it was great. Mr. and Mrs. Yu from Canada were really fun and knowledgable to talk with. They also were quiet and went to bed when we did, so it worked out great.
Most of the time on the train we read, or watched the TV on each sleeper. I watched Forrest Gump and Harry Potter in Chinese. Zoe only requested her Animal Numbers on the first day. The berth featured two sets of bunks with nice sheets, duvets, 2 pillows each, a little table, a plug, a nice window, TV’s on each bunk, and a thermos for hot water. The boiling water was down the hall as were a set of sinks and the toilets. We bought a bunch of noodles, crackers and a few apples & bananas at a grocery store before the train ride. Since we’re near the end of the trip we are getting low on funds, so need to keep within budget. We did eat one meal in the restaurant car! It was good; some kind of meat, rice, green shooty veggies, potatoes, carrots and squash. Great.
The scenery was wonderful. The whole first day we were still on the Tibetan plateau, so it looked much like Nevada or western texas. We stopped twice the first day and were able to get off for some fresh air and to grab some cheap snacks and beer from the vendors on the platform. Zoe took a couple naps, as did we all. The second day the scenery was alot different. Still arid, but from Xining to Xian we went through alot of beautiful green river valleys and tons of tunnels. It was great.
We walked up and down the back half of the train: it totalled 15 cars, but we stayed in the rear 7 only venturing past the restaurant car once to see all the people packed into the seat cars. The first 8 cars were all seats as far as we could tell and some people took those the whole way! wow…that would be rough. The 3 cars behind ours were the “hard sleepers”. Very similar to ours, but stacked 3 high and not as cooshy or lux. Zoe enjoyed walking to the back and watching the tracks disappear. She slept with me the first night on the top bunk and with Bryan last night on the bottom bunk. She seemed quite content. We all enjoyed the relaxing pace of the train after so many days of hustle and walking.
Now that we’re in Beijing, though, we got settled into our room and will head off to see the Forbidden City and Tiannenmen sqare in a few minutes. should be neat!