Train from Beijing to Xian

Xi'an Travel Blog

 › entry 4 of 11 › view all entries

Ok, I’ll make this quick. I’m travelling to Xi’an with a couple Swedes that I met on the Great Wall hike. We decided to head out on a Saturday overnight train…bad idea. Apparently half of Beijing had the same plan so rather than riding in one of the comfortable SOLD OUT sleeper compartments, we’re riding 3rd class with the locals in hard seats for 12 hours!! What the hell, it’s an adventure, right? Yeah…right.

So we load up with snacks, beers and a couple bottles of rice wine for the trip. The train is nice and clean (we’re not riding with the livestock if that’s what you are thinking) but it is very crowded. In addition to the assigned seats, they also sell standing room so there are people literally standing in the aisles and the spaces between trains.

As some people exit at the first few stops, the standing room passengers jockey for position and grab the open seats.

After a few “cold” ones, Marcus and I decide to make friends with the locals and by the time we were a couple hours into the journey we are sharing drinks, laughing, playing games and most importantly learning key Chinese phrases from our new friends. Soon word spreads that there a couple of westerners in 3rd class and we are entertaining a crowd with our mispronunciation of Chinese. This is the type of experience I was looking for when I decided to go on this trip and if the ride had ended there I wouldn’t have traded it for a sleeper in a million years. Unfortunately, we had another seven hours to go. I won’t bore you with the details, but you can imagine trying to sleep sitting up in close quarters on a train with no pillows or blankets was no picnic. Thank god I had my iPod. Oh well, you take the good with the bad. Either way, I will never forget that night.

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photo by: Deats