Over Spring Festival my parents and I took a “hard sleeper” (硬卧) train for the first time. After all the stories I’d heard I was expecting the worst, especially since it was 春运，the Spring Festival travel season when public transportation gets beyond maxed out. It wasn’t really all that bad, though I can easily imagine how it could be really bad, depending on your fellow passengers. Definitely wouldn’t want to do it with a baby. The hardest thing for us this time was getting tickets in the first place, which required some serious string-pulling by a friend of a friend — I’m afraid to ask how he got them. But if you like to chat/practice Chinese, and you bring snacks (that you can share), a book, a cup and some instant coffee, a hard sleeper doesn’t have to be a brutal experience, at least going from our recent first trip.
I put a bunch of photos into a gallery, along with details about our ride in the captions. If a hard sleeper train ride is in your near or potential future, the photo gallery will give you a good idea of what to expect, snogging couples and all. Haha, poor mom!
Click a photo to go to the hard sleeper gallery.