To experience an adventure in Tibet, you have to get there first. Today, I tell about my Shanghai to Lhasa train journey. Most impressive is the last part with a vertex more than 5000 m in height. This is not only part of the highest railway line in the world, but is also acknowledged by experts to be the largest rail project of the current century.
For 48 hours we had the greatest scenery in front of our train window. There are really coincidences in life! I just wanted to start my travelogue about Lhasa, where iTunes plays Over the Hills and Far Away by Nightwish for me.
The ticket checker of our compartment saw our permit in detail, then passed it on to the next higher officials, who then gave the permit to the next important-looking man. Long story short, I was actually the only non-Chinese tourist on the way to the land of snows for the next 48 hours.
From Shanghai Railway Station, we started at around 7 pm from Shanghai. The downside was that we hardly see anything in the cities of Suzhou, Wuxi, Nanjing, Bengbu, Fuzhou and Zhengzhou as everything was submerged in nocturnal black.
We had the advantage that our train compartment was fortunately a soft sleeper. That means we had pretty nice soft beds available. This was better than the alternative hard sleeper, since these compartments were equipped without door and other comfort. We settled in and played games.
The breakfast consisted of sweet rice soup and green tea. In the train restaurant the railway employees lounged, smoked despite the prohibition of smoking. We were satisfied that our compartment had been closed. A man shared the compartment with two lovely girls, who took care of the culinary well-being of the long-nosed.
In the morning of our second day we enjoy the beautiful scenery between Zhengzhou and Xi'an. We see hordes of yak, sheep, highland cattle, a kind of antelope and wild horses. The landscape was very appealing.
In the afternoon we could admire the beauties between Xi'an and Lanzhou. Unfortunately, Lanzhou itself, like Xining and Golmud, was dark again, as the second night of our train journey had begun. But we got on the last day in the train to the area of Nagqu and of course Lhasa. At lunch we beat it all the more vigorously and ordered almost the entire menu up and down. To my surprise, the tastiest of them was scrambled eggs with tomato.
The mostly female railway workers cleaned and cared for the well-being of the guests, while the men were busy with drinking, smoking and dancing.
A Chinese student filled our compartment. She wanted to do a Tibetan tour for 10 days. She spoke English very well and could actually play Uno. With her we had a lot of fun on our train ride!
She helped us a lot with the food orders and train announcements, because logically everything was in Chinese. From her I also had the dry shampoo, as there was no washing facilities on the train even apart from a few sinks for brushing our teeth.
The toilet situation was anything but comfortable and was getting worse by the hour. The estimated 30 passengers in our car shared a single toilet that was not cleaned once during the 48 hours. In addition, it was also the only toilet next to the dining car, so you can imagine the condition.
The only highlight this afternoon was the ever-hot water that gushed out of a dispenser and provided us the opportunity to have noodle soup, coffee and porridge.
In addition to playing Uno, we also kept a close eye on the height in the information screen, as we were cracking the 5000 m mark on our way. Incidentally, the highest point we reached by train was 5072 m and the highest stop at which the train unfortunately did not stop is at 5068 m. It's called Tanggula.
Apart from that, as we can easily see in the gallery, we mainly took photos of them. Almost every kilometer of our journey has been documented. Of course, food and sleep were not too short, even if the food was not worth mentioning, as there was always the same thing.
All in all, this train ride was a great experience despite the poor sanitary conditions and the monotonous food!
In the middle of the night we crossed the border and found ourselves on the plateau. From about 4:00 o'clock in the morning oxygen was pumped into the compartment, as we were at high altitude. The train was equipped with altimeters and pressure gauges, presumably the oxygen supply was regulated.
There is only one time zone, which means that in Tibet the sun does not rise until late in the morning. Each family receives a flag from the government when they move in. Unless it is placed on the roof, the Tibetans must pay a heavy penalty.
The magnificent nature on the plateau compensated us for the lack of oxygen. We had about 12 hours train ride in front of us which I spent at the window. The day went by anyway. Only nature compensated us. The train has beautiful epithets as sky train, train over the clouds.
By early evening we had made it. The train rolled through the new suburbs of Lhasa. We were amazed when we saw the high residential buildings and concrete deserts. Unfortunately, Lhasa (except Potala, Barkhor and Johkang) also has no UNESCO status, because although the old town is beautiful, the place is otherwise very Chinese.
At the Lhasa train station we were immediately separated after delivery of our tickets and taken to an adjacent building. There we were recorded. A strange feeling was spreading. The stupid feeling was then thanked by our guide, who was waiting for us with white towels to welcome us. A nice Tibetan guide should be our companion for the next few days.