I had four days off in a row and took the opportunity to go to Datong so I could see the Yungang Caves and the Hanging Temple. Datong’s off the beaten path and there’s only one train a day there. I’ve taken the night trains here though it’s been a while.
I was delighted when I got on board though. Clean bunks. Just four to a room and a fake red rose on our little table. I wasn’t crazy about having the top bunk, but what I could I do? I was lucky to get tickets. I had a good time chatting and sharing sunflower seeds with a woman in the next cubicle as we looked out the window. And — I actually got some sleep.
Last night I expected the same kind of bunk. I assumed that the way out was the hard sleeper since it’s been awhile since I took a slow train in China. Also, the soft sleepers in Thailand are so posh. There’s two to a room and you have a sink and mirror. You’ve got more space.
Well, this isn’t Thailand. The first night was the soft sleeper and now I’m suddenly less impressed. I realize that my second ticket was much cheaper and I had a hard sleeper and I was on the top bunk. The thought of climbing up that ladder didn’t thrill me. I knew I’d go up and down exactly once. Also, my goal was to use the bathroom as little as possible, which I did. I do have to say the bathroom in 2nd class was no worse than the one in first.
This ride started earlier so we left at 4 pm which meant a longer time perched by the window on the fold down chair. I did get to see the landscape and finish my novel. I did succeed in getting up and down the ladder without bodily harm, but I didn’t sleep a wink. There was just too much noise. The guy across from me really has some breathing issues. Not just snoring, but all his nocturnal breathing should be looked at. It made waking at 4:30am to disembark at 5 am easy enough.
Still the journey was straightforward and there were no problems. I do wonder if it isn’t better to go soft seat on such a train. As uncomfortable as my night was, the train was better in some ways than Amtrak. A sleeper bunk is at least affordable. If I had a lower bunk, it would have been fine. I could sit up better and wouldn’t have to deal with the fear of falling from that little ladder.
- Which Train Goes Where in China (theraillife.wordpress.com)
- Trip Report – China Railways train 1085 (theraillife.wordpress.com)
- China Railways – General (theraillife.wordpress.com)
- The Memory of Old Chinese Culture Datong Yungang Grottoes (beijinggreatwalltourblog.wordpress.com)
- Traveling by Train in Vietnam (beontheroad.com)