The Slow Train to Kunming

Trains for me in America have never been that high on my list of ways to get around.  They’re not very quick and often just as expensive, if not more so, than an airplane.  So I went from my longest train ride ever being a few hours between American cities to my 42 hour train ride from Shanghai to Kunming.  I got a hard sleeper, which meant I was in an open compartment of six bunks, with eleven compartments to a car.  There were two foldy seats per compartment.  A friend let me know later on that the more expensive soft sleepers were actually worse because it had a door to each compartment, and often people close the doors and smoke up a storm.

The crowd on the train were slightly more rural than the average bear I was running into in Shanghai.  They asked me all sorts of fun questions like “Don’t all police in America shoot people up?”, “Have you ever been to Hollywood, you know, the place where they make movies?” and “Why aren’t you married yet?”  My favorite might have been “If you can carry that backpack, you can carry a husband!”  You spend most of your time chatting with those around you, sleeping (a good half of the time), and eating.  My bunkmates were nice enough to share their peanuts and sunflower seeds as the announcement played over the loud speaker to not accept food from strangers.  Everyone else brought what seemed like whole boxes of instant bowl noodles and fruit.  Next time I’ll come more prepared.  Instead I ate the boxed rice plates and noodle breakfasts they would bring to you on a cart.  I did fight my way through multiple cars to get to the dining car, which was much nicer with large windows and actual chairs.  I think I would’ve done it more had it not taken so much elbowing to get through each car.

On the whole I rather enjoyed my train ride.  I think I’ll need to figure out a better way to stretch out as I felt a bit of cabin fever.  It’s a lot easier to enjoy my travel and travel slowly when I don’t have anywhere in particular I need to be.

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2 comments
  1. Jenn said:

    “If you can carry that backpack, you can carry a husband!” this quote made my week. amazeballs.

    did you tell them that you went to hollywood a lot? and your favorite time was to go on sunday mornings so you could pet a baby goat. that’ll surely disappoint them rural peeps…

    • I actually didn’t understand what he said for the first few (American words translated into Chinese baffle me constantly). He finally said “you know, the place where they make movies!” Then he seemed all surprised we don’t all sit around watching people film all day.

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