The Trans-Tibetan Train Journey with an Ebook

At 4 o'clock in the afternoon, we decided to return to the hotel, where we have to pick up our backpacks before setting off to travel to Tibet. Our Shanghai to Lhasa train leaves at 8:10 pm and so we ask the hotel to call a taxi and we get to the Shanghai Railway Station in 10 minutes.

It is almost 6 o'clock in the afternoon when we get settled in the waiting room. We wait for the train from Shanghai to Lhasa, which after 48 hours, will take us to our dream destination. As the afternoon progresses, the waiting room fill up more and more. The public address announcements are set at such a high volume that, to avoid having our heads exploded, we decided to go several times around.

With the passing of the minutes, people start to take out their bags of food, which we have to say are truly impressive. In our case we have listened to the recommendations we had read and have stocked with different buns and biscuits for breakfast. We also carry some potato chips, snacks and also several instant soups. We also have some noodles, which can be prepared with hot water that is available in the different wagons. With this we expect to eat and dine for the next two days.

Given the forecast we have of the next few days, we take advantage of the fact that there is a KFC near. Here we take advantage of a quick dinner to keep our stomachs conditioned and not have to be thinking later about doing it in the train compartment.

A few minutes pass 7:30 in the evening the security controls that give us access to the platforms of the train begin. We have to look for what will be our car, where we will spend the next two nights. In our case, we travel in first class, that is, in a soft bunk that is a closed four-berth compartment. In this category, for each of the wagons, there is a shared toilet. There is a western one and another one that is a latrine and there is a restaurant that is right next to the first class wagon.

The soft bunk is the most expensive option and it is also the option that ends before, since there is only one first class car. The tickets go on sale 20 days before and can only be purchased through a Chinese intermediary website or a travel agency.

We spend about 20 minutes since we entered the train. When we are already settled, ticket checkers appear to ask us all the documentation for the trip to Tibet. After the checks of all permits and passports, they tell us that everything is perfect, but in half Chinese and half English. We are informed that tomorrow at 9 o'clock at night we will have to make a train change in Xining, the last stop.

With this novelty, which I did not count on, I lie back in the bunk bed with a ebook in hand and classical music in the background. We are ready to spend the first night on the train from Shanghai to Lhasa.

Day 2

It's 5 o'clock in the morning. The first night on the train we have to say has been perfect. It's time to clear up and go to the bathroom (so to speak) to go through metal sheet and paint and start this first day that will take us to enter fully into Tibet.

For us, traveling by train has always been a joy, especially in countries with which we are so different culturally. It allows us to closely observe our travel companions, as well as see daily scenes that happen outside the train window.

This does not happen when we travel by car, although on the train it seems that we are watching a fast-moving film. We have to pay special attention to details, so as not to miss any of them.

We adapt slowly, as the altitude gradually increases, although this does not mean that we do not suffer from altitude sickness. These hours on the train, as well as acclimatization, serve us in a certain pot to rest and enjoy the sweet pleasure of doing nothing. It is something that we have to confess, we feel great and more in a place like China where every step and each view is different from the previous one.

At 11:14 in the morning, with British punctuality, we arrived at Xi'an, where we were already a couple of years ago. Here the train makes a brief 10-minute stop that we take advantage of to stretch our legs and see a bit of the surroundings of the station.

Although in the first day the train passed between gray landscapes, we have to say that since it has dawned, the day is quite clear. We imagine that due to being spring season, the green gives the landscapes more color than usual. I have to say, at no time it is heavy or gray to be looking out the window, from my bunk, while enjoying a coffee and reading the ebooks.

At 2 o'clock in the afternoon, we cross a mountainous area, in which we do not stop seeing villages with traditional Chinese architecture. It remind us of the restored buildings we saw in Pingyao, but which are real here and that probably few tourists have seen.

It seems to be a lie but the time in the train passes by, among books, review of photos and several coffees. The morning advances until it's time for lunch and it's time to open our instant soups. I fill them with boiling water and enjoy a typical Chinese lunch.

After lunch we went to the restaurant. Being now noon, we decided to try our luck and as soon as we entered we found waiters, cooks, and a policeman, occupying the available tables. Some were watching TV on the mobile, another playing, smoking and another sleeping directly on the tables. So after 30 minutes we decided to return to our wagon and make our own soluble coffee, which we also have to confess, is much better than the one we took this morning.

After enjoying our coffee and reading a few pages of my book, at 5 o'clock in the afternoon we take another walk through the train cars. We especially enjoy the view from the window that we do not leave a second and more now that we are getting closer to what we so often dreamed of while we were preparing to travel to Tibet.

There are a few minutes until 8 o'clock in the evening when we decided to open another of our packets of instant noodles to make a dinner in the hall sitting on the seats there to enjoy the landscape and also stretch your legs a little. After dinner we start to fix our backpacks, since in almost an hour we will reach Xining, at 2400 meters altitude, the stop where we have to change trains to take the train that will take us to Lhasa.

We arrived a little earlier than expected at 8:45 pm. On the platform opposite we have waiting for what will be our final train from Shanghai to Lhasa, where before entering we have to show train tickets, passports and entry permits to Tibet.

It's 9:30 p.m. when the train starts. We have a last coffee and we start what we can say is our real trip to Tibet. We think about what is to come, besides the height that we will start to take from now on.
It's practically 10:30 at night when I give up reading my book, close the lights and start enjoying our last night on the Shanghai to Lhasa train.
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