Travelling the length and breadth of a giant country like China takes an extraordinary combination of trains, planes, automobiles and even donkey carts, but for Intrepid travellers traversing the Middle Kingdom by train regularly rates as a highlight.
On many routes we travel ‘hard class’, but as Intrepid leader Joseph Kornides explains, doing it hard in China is an easy way to have fun…
“One of the great things about an Intrepid trip is the use of local transport. It really gives you an insight into how people go about their daily lives, rather than being cooped up in a luxury coach completely separated from the action.
In China, overnight sleeper trains are the main transport we use between cities. The standard trains are clean and comfortable, with six berths per cabin in an open plan configuration. A pillow, blanket and linen are provided and basic meals can be purchased either from the dining car or from trolleys that traverse the length of the train (just for the record, these meals have been some of the best I’ve enjoyed in China!). After enjoying the evening scenery and a meal, it’s a great opportunity for the group to interact with each other and the locals.
Often the train journeys are rated as one of the highlights of a trip! Because the infrastructure is so smooth and the train journeys so much fun, many travellers don’t realise the huge distances covered. It’s easy to forget you have been on a train for hours when you’ve been enjoying chatting in disjointed English or Mandarin and relying on charade-like hand signals to communicate with curious fellow travellers.
On Intrepid’s Essence of China trip for example, we cover over 3800 km (2360 miles) of travel on just four overnight trains! Whether playing cards, learning the local lingo or just catching up on sleep and postcard writing, trains are the perfect way to get around a country as large as China. When you add to that huge distance the bus, boat and hydrofoil travel you have got yourself one mammoth journey, which is what makes the Essence of China journey one of our passengers’ and leaders’ favourites!”