Depart Chengdu 12:05, Arrive Lanzhou 09:15. Duration: 21 hr 10min. Distance: 1172km
Hard sleeper upper 256 RMB
Hard sleeper bottom 274 RMB
Our very first China train. 1 of 4. First impression of the hard sleeper class: not as hard as they’re called. We got one upper berth and one lower berth, and in different compartment. The arrangement is done automatically by the online system and as Derek says, we can find possibility to ask for changing berth with anyone who dont mind. Communication is hard being the only foreigners on board and nobody can speak English, but sign and body language makes everything possible here. Within a few hours, we managed to negotiate with a man to switch berth so Az and I could at least be in the same compartment and row. One of us gets the upper ticket and another gets the lower berth ticket. It’s okay since we can both sit together in lower berth during the day, and for sleep at night, Az would climb up to sleep at upper berth.
The middle and upper berth only has limited space for you to lay down only. It’s not very high that you cannot even sit up. So people who has middle and upper ticket would sit at the stool in the aisle. Moreover, we start noticing that inside the train is very clean than we had thought. Each berth is given a set of comfy, thick blanket, bedsheet and a pillow with pillowcase, all have been washed and are perfectly white.
First 5 hours was still enjoyable. We have fun looking out the window seeing views we pass by. The views are mostly endless empty space of big China land. After getting so cold in Chengdu (night and morning) we have prepared ourselves with layers of thick clothings before boarding the train, which funnily, the weather gets warmer and warmer.
We packed 4 instant chicken curry, 2 sardines and 3 Maggi noodle for our means of food on the go (Az wanted to bring all 5 Maggi packs but I stopped him saying too much instant noodle is not good, I dont want to eat that lot of Maggi and blablabla, which in the end, I have to eat my own words for craving so much of chicken Maggi on the train! Since then Az keeps mocking wishing he had brought more Maggi to China). There’s a restaurant car and the train staff are constantly passing by with food cart selling hot meal, fruit and instant noodle, but we finally only managed a plain rice from the restaurant car to be eaten with our sardines from home.
Within few hours, we get to know everyone within our compartment easily. There’s this little boy who’s running here and there all times with her mum running after him. Both of them are traveling to Lhasa as the mom is working there (like, very far!). Thankfully, there’s a man from Taiwan who can speak a little English (with the blue jacket at right picture), so he’s the person who would translate between us and everyone else. He’s also heading to Urumqi like us and switching train in Lanzhou, but his will be different train. And also from him we understand that the woman with little boy had to pay money to the government for bearing second child (which reminds me to China’s one child policy, which now I practically understand).
Anyway, Chinese people are generally friendly, even though we are strangers from a strange land far away. They would speak to us in Chinese as if we would understand them, and a smile back will always do. We need to emphasize Malaysia as in “Ma-la-si-ya” in such a way that they would recognize it. And they can get easily amused when I can say a little Ni Hao Ma (How are you?) and Sei Sei (thank you), and moreover, when Az trying to show them his skill in writing a few Chinese numbers and words, all of them would pay attention and cheer big time as if he’s some a magician doing a performance.
People sleep around 9pm in the train when they turn the light off, and by 7am people start getting up. We reach Lanzhou perfectly on time, around 9am. We’ll have around 1.5 hours to have a quick Lanzhou sightseeing before boarding our next train to Urumqi.