More high speed trains, this time in China. Taking the train is not nearly as simple a process as in Japan. All bags get scanned (admittedly in a rather haphazard way) and they don’t let you down onto the platform to wait for the train, instead lining you up in the terminal building - it’s all a bit airportish. The last shots are of Shanghai’s Hongqiao station. It’s absolutely huge, with 28 platforms. So huge that if you don’t turn up more than half an hour before your train (thankfully Ramzi had give us fair warning) you end up having
Because we are crazy, we decided to go from Fenghuang to Hong Kong in a single day. A précis: 0720: depart deserted guest house and walk through deserted streets to the spot by the bridge on the side of the road where allegedly someone will pick us up. 0728: start to panic when no car has appeared 0732: get into car and mentally apologize for doubting the guest house staff. 0749: arrive at bus station, having miraculously survived perilous drive 0753: board bus to Changsha 0759: bus departs Fenghuang bus station. Wonder if the intermittent high-pitched beeping
View from our window: Overnight train from Hangzhou to Changsha. 9:00 am, 12 November 2013.
We took the overnight train from Hangzhou to Changsha. We booked soft sleepers, which are four beds to a compartment. Reasonably comfortable (free slippers!), but there were actually three other occupants, one of whom was about 12 months old and did not exactly sleep soundly through the night. However, perhaps a small child is better than alternatives since it seems you can smoke on sleeper trains. Almost every other compartment in our car was thick with smoke.
More monorail! This one’s really kind of absurd, as it only runs halfway from the airport to the centre of Shanghai. You then have to get on to the metro to finish the journey - the same metro line that started at the airport. But who cares; this thing’s cool, because: 1. It’s a monorail, duh. 2. It’s a crazy maglev floating mega-monorail with glowing red eyes that can hit 450 km/h. Admittedly, it only went 300 km/h when we were on it, but it’s still pretty far out.
A standard part of DMZ tours is a stop at Dorasan Station. Apart from tourist stops, it gets very little traffic, although in principle it is the last South Korean stop before onward trains to North Korea and connections to the Trans-Siberian Railway, Trans-Chinese Railway, and Trans-Manchuria Railway. In practice, of course, this the end of the line and the only business is visitors who pay 500w (about 50 cents) to go out and snap photos on the platform.
We left Tokyo today, riding the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Shinagawa to Nagoya before changing for the regular train up into the mountains. It was super fast and efficient, but I wouldn’t say it really felt like 300km per hour except when another Shinkansen passed us heading in the opposite direction. The other noticeable aspect was the crazy cant of some curves - every now and then the train would lean in to a bend and the cityscape out of the window would disappear away. Slightly disconcerting.
Model C56 locomotive No. 31, which operated on the Taimen Railway between Thailand and Burma during World War II. This rail line was made (in)famous by The Bridge on the River Kwai.
Taking the airport train from Narita to Shinagawa. After inbound passengers disembark, staff block off the entrances to each car. One worker per car walks through the aisles collecting garbage. Makes sure every window blind is at the exact same height. Turns around each pair of seats so they are now facing the outbound direction. Only then can new passengers board.