[Photo Gallery:] “Hard Sleeper” (硬卧) train

On the way to XÄ«nxiāng, Hénán (新乡,河南) from Tianjin we took a 动车, or fast train (often translated “dynamic train”). That was about 4.5 hours — super fast, super comfortable, and sparsely populated. On the way back we took an “express” (快速) train from Zhèngzhōu (郑州), which is the old kind of train but not the slowest old kind (to compare: Tianjin to Beijing takes three hours, 1.5 hours, or half an hour, depending on whether you take the slow train, express train, or “dynamic” train).

We rode in a “hard sleeper” car (硬卧车) on the way back to Tianjin. It was eleven hours long and completely full, arriving in Tianjin at 3am (final destination was Harbin, a 25-hour ride from Zhengzhou).

Sleeping was difficult because (1) it was really hot and stuffy until the sun went down, (2) the university age couple in the middle bunk opposite wouldn’t stop talking/snogging, (3) the snotty kid in the top bunk opposite wouldn’t stop coughing and sneezing and snotting everywhere. The bathroom is a metal closet, like an airplane bathroom in size, and that’s good because you don’t want to be falling onto that floor when the train rocks. Drains directly onto the tracks through a pipe. I mention it here because there’s no picture.

If I’d been thinking “blog” at the time maybe I would have taken better photos (these aren’t so great) and walked the length of the train just to see the different kinds of cars (soft sleepers, standing, dining, etc.). But these’ll give you an idea, anyway. Next time I’ll make it a big photo shoot and do it right; it’ll at least give me something to do! More info in the captions.

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