Sunday, April 19, 2009
"Sweet morning everyone!''
There are some advantages to having three men (one was Tom) as roommates in the same sleeping compartment on a night train. One was a Chinese army officer who lifted our suitcases into the storage area above the top bunks. The other guy was a businessman who brought Dvds to watch on his laptop. They both offered to share their dried fruit with us.
It was just about time to turn off the lights and go to bed by the time we got on around 10 p.m.at the Beijing West station. I remembered tips from my friend, Tracy, skilled at changing her clothes in her car without anyone seeing, and managed to get pants off and leggings on under the covers.
The 11-hour, 800-mile journey was incredibly smooth. The trains are electric and very clean, with comfy bedding, free slippers and Western toilets. Only disappointment was no dining car. There were plenty of boiling hot water for mixing with packaged noodles, and the car attendants took orders for coffee and tea which they delivered in the morning.
The Chinese government made a big push before the Olympics to get train stations, bus stations, airports and streets signed in English and/or Roman numerals. This has made getting around on your own incredibly easier than it used to be. The Beijing station could have been anywhere in Europe, except it was cleaner and maybe even a little less chaotic.
Best part was recorded "wake-up'' call announced in English about an hour before the train arrived in Xian.
"Sweet morning everyone. Wish you had a good night!''