Train Ride To Zhangjiajie China
It was 2009 and it started to get warm in Shanghai. I forgot the exact month but it was announced to us in class that we had two choices to pick from for our 5 days vacation. I can’t remember why I picked Zhangjiajie but I think it had to do with the description; “UNESCO Word Heritage Site” I think it was definitely that.
The train ride to Zhanjiajie, I was told wasn’t going to be easy. I had a fair memory of riding the train in China (in 1997) when I was much much younger. Of course at age 11, a three-bed bunker felt like a castle and the top bed made me feel like the king (not queen or princess, The King). We were a group of 60 students, maybe more or less. I actually can’t remember but when you see the pictures and if you have time to kill, you can count them. We took the entire car train and it felt a bit chaotic but the good kind. We were picking beds and each group picked a section. Each section has 6 beds. I took the top one.
I remember the ride taking 48 hours but Google map indicates 24 (maybe for non-stop) but our train kept stopping in every city. It didn’t take more than couple of hours before it would stop again. Each stop would take 15 mins to start again. During the ride, our food options were very limited. I regretted not bringing my own food. There was a Chinese lady pushing a cart with snacks and instant noodles every other hour. Our other option was the restaurant. Actually, that wasn’t’ really an option. See picture below in the gallery section and you will understand. I survived on snacks, instant noodles and pity from people that actually came prepared and did bring food. I definitely lost weight on this trip. The food situation was tough on others and on me, specially if you didn’t eat spicy food. Although Zhangjiajie receive thousands and thousands of visitors daily, most of them are Chinese and the accommodations are targeted to them.
The bathroom situation was complicated too. If you have ever been to China, you would know about squatting bathrooms and carrying your own toilet paper. At least this, I got down. During the train ride, I kept hearing people joking about the bathroom but never knew what it was until I stepped in and checked it out myself. The bathroom consisted of a metal room with a hole on the floor. Yes, you read that right, a hole on the floor. A missed step and you can say bye bye to your leg. I stared at the hole for a good minute while the train was in full motion until someone knocked on the door. I let them know it was claimed and quickly did my business while holding to dear life my toilet paper.
Aside from the mild horror story, the train ride was fun. We conglomerated on the lower bed and played random drinking games. To be more specific, Korean drinking games. Those guys can seriously drink! I on the other hand, cannot hold my alcohol. I can’t even have a sip of beer without getting the Asian glow. So I had no choice but to become really good at those games and if you are pretty enough, a gentleman will take the shot for you.
We arrived on a foggy morning and eager to get the hell out of the train, we gather all of our stuff and walked out like zombies after the very long train ride to Zhangjiajie.