Hard Sleepers/卧铺

(下面有中文版)

In another post, I talked about the different kinds of trains, and also touched upon five different types of slow train tickets: soft sleeper, hard sleeper, soft seat (sometimes), hard seat, and no seat. I’ll write about hard seat/no seat soon enough, but for now, let’s dive into the wonderful world of hard sleeper tickets!

First off, when is it a good idea to get a hard sleeper?

Well, I personally think hard sleeper tickets are the most cost-effective way to do overnight trains. True, you can save a lot of money by getting a hard seat (and if money is a big issue for you, then you might not have a choice), but the major downside to a hard seat is that you probably won’t sleep. (Unless you have buns of steel). For some, it’s a worthwile trade-off to save that much more rmb. However, as I’ve come to appreciate more and more, sleep is a GREAT thing! Get a hard sleeper if you have a long ways to go, and enjoy your night’s rest. (Tip: bring earplugs and a face mask, in case your bunkmates are there to play poker all night…that, or join them!)

So, okay, you’ve chosen a hard sleeper. Which bunk should you get?

I’ve slept in all three beds (top, middle, bottom), and there are advantages and disadvantages to each one.

Bottom bunk: This one is indisputably the best. The ticket is slightly more expensive than the others because of this, but for good reason. As a bottom bunk, you don’t constantly have to climb in and out of bed, AND your bed doubles as a seat with its own side table for when you want to enjoy the scenery. The only disadvantage: others may crowd your bed to use it as a seat, too. But most respect you if you want to lay down. You just have to speak up!

Middle bunk: This is my personal LEAST favorite, if only because it’s the most awkward for me to climb into. Others may have no problem whatsoever getting in, but not me. I have to weirdly swing over from the side ladder and unceremoniously plop into my bed while shimmying in the rest of the way. Some (*coughmostcough*) are more flexible than me and don’t mind. Alas, this one feels awkward to me. Though, two major perks: you can look out the window from your bed (because it’s not too high) and you can still reach the side table by the bottom bunk to leave your water bottle at night.

Top bunk: This one’s the cheapest, and most people don’t like it. I like it more than the middle bunk, if only because it’s easier for me to climb into. I just have to go all the way up the ladder and then fall onto the bed. True, there are some major disadvantages: you have no side table access, you can’t see out of the window, and if you’re tall like me, you also can’t sit up without hitting your head. Major perk: you can easily access your luggage from the top rack, which for a fatty like me who likes to snack, this is a great thing.

Once you get a hard sleeper ticket, the rest is pretty straightforward. The conductors take your ticket and give you a plastic card in exchange so that they can keep track of when you need to get off. There are side tables by the windows across the aisle and enough walking space if you need to stretch your legs.

Sure, planes are faster ways of travel, but sometimes, it’s nice to take the longer route, and this is a good way to do it.

我在另一篇文章提到了火车的类型,也提到了慢车的五种票:软卧,卧铺,所谓的软座,硬座,无座。我稍后会谈到硬座与无座,但是现在要讲的是卧铺!

首先,什么时候应该买卧铺票?

我个人感觉卧铺票是火车最经济的过夜火车票。当然,你可以买硬座票更省钱(如果你的钱很紧张,你可能只有这个选择),但是硬座最大的缺点就是除非你的屁股像钢筋一样硬,绕不然你整夜都不可能睡着吧!有些人可以接受为了省钱而熬夜,但是我慢慢感到其实睡觉是一件非常重要的事情!如果你的路比较远,那就买卧铺,睡个好觉吧。(我建议你也带着耳塞、眼罩,因为有可能其他乘客要过夜玩扑克牌……这样,或者你就加入他们的游戏!)

好了,你选了卧铺。要买那一个床呢?

卧铺的下中上铺我都睡过了,各有利弊。

下铺。这个无疑是最好的。下铺也是最贵的卧铺票,但是贵有贵的道理。有下铺,你就不用断断续续爬上床,加上你的床也可以当做你的座位,包括你自己的小桌子在窗户旁边。这样很方便看风景。只有一个缺点:有可能其他乘客也想坐在你的床上,所以你要睡觉的时候就要胆子大点让他们走。

中铺。其实这个铺是我最不喜欢的,因为我感觉是最难爬上去的。其他人可能感觉没问题,但是我就不行。我要特别尴尬地从小楼梯爬到床边,然后转身,最后将自己一点一点挪进去。有些(大部分吧……)人比我更灵活,所以觉得也没什么。可惜,对我来说就很尴尬。但是,这个床有两个优点:一,你还是可以从床上看窗外,二,你还是可以摸得到下铺的小桌子,刚好把杯子放在那儿。

上铺。这个床就是最便宜的,但是大部分人不那么喜欢。我个人觉得上铺比中铺好,因为对我来说比较好爬的。你主要爬到最高的位置,然后落在床上。那当然有一些比较大的缺点:你没有旁边的小桌子,你从床上不能看到窗外,而且如果你跟我一样个子很高,你坐不起来。但是最大的优点是你从上铺很容易拿到你的行李,所以跟我一样好吃的游客,这个方法最方便偷吃东西。

你拿到卧铺票之后,其他都很直接的。列车长会及时换票并提醒下车,这样他们也清楚你在哪一个站下车。过道旁边也有很多小桌子,很方便看窗外的风景,你也可以在过道上走走,锻炼身体。

当然,飞机是更快的旅行方式,但是有的时候漫游很好,而且卧铺票是最好的选择。

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Trains! 火车!

Trains, hands down, are my favorite way of traveling China (behind hitchhiking, of course). They’re economical, and they’re more scenic than taking a plane. If you have the time to spare, hop on a train!

On my last trip out west, I rode very long trains: a 36-hour train out to Xining, a 21-hour train to Lhasa, and then a 48-hour train back to Shanghai. In my time in China, I’ve managed to ride every type of train there is (even the Maglev in Shanghai). While I’ll get into more details about the different places to be within trains, let me first do a quick run-down of train types.

Fast trains
There are two types of fast trains: the G train (高铁, gao tie) and the D train (动车, dong che). These trains are pretty damn fast, and also tend to connect bigger cities together. There’s even a line between Chongqing and Shanghai!

What are the differences between a G train and a D train? A D train is the slightly older model that runs ever-so-slightly slower. The G train is the newer model. A G train is more expensive than a D train, by a little bit.

For example, as of writing this, a G train to Shanghai takes 45 minutes or an hour, and costs 73 rmb (about 10 USD). A D train takes one to one and a half hours to get to Shanghai, but costs 56 rmb (about 5-6 USD). It’s a slight difference, but a worthwile one to know. That being said. There aren’t as many D trains, so the tickets sell out very quickly.
The major perk of the high-speed trains is that, obviously, you get to your destination faster. The hot water machines and bathrooms tend to be cleaner. The only downside (for some) is that people tend to be a bit less chatty on fast trains. Then again, that might be a nice thing, too.

Slow trains
There are several types of slow trains. There are the T trains. There are the K trains, the Z trains, and the trains that are a string of numbers without a letter. These are the trains that tend to make overnight trips, and have different cabins: hard sleeper, soft sleeper, hard seat, and sometimes soft seat (but don’t be fooled: the seats aren’t actually that soft).

The T and Z trains are the faster ones of the bunch, though the K train is also decent. (Fun fact: the Chinese names for these trains all mean “fast,” but in different degrees. T is 特快 which means “especially fast,” Z means 最快 or “the fastest” and K means 快 which is just the plain ‘ol “fast,” which isn’t to say that any of them are actually all that fast. Oh well!) The string of numbers train is definitely the slowest, though depending on where you’re going, you might not actually have a choice of train type. Most train booking places show the amount of time it takes to get there.

I actually do like these slow trains when I have a longer journey to make. They’re meditative in their own rights, you meet an interesting array of people, and you get to see the scenery unfold. If you’re going a short distance (like from Hangzhou to Shanghai) and a fast train is available, though, I don’t really recommend this route. Because for short distances, the slow speed is maddening.

With any luck, you can avoid the L train, which is a very old model sometimes used out west in Xinjiang. How old is it?! The AC unit is just a fan bolted into the ceiling. The hot water machines are still powered by coal. I mean, it was cool for me to experience, but given the choice, I might have chosen a T or K train.

Crazy fast train
This would just be the Maglev. It goes over 300 km/hour, and it’s currently in Shanghai, connecting the airport with the downtown area. When is it a good idea to take it? Aw, just take it. It’s pretty wild to experience something that goes that fast!

So fast it doesn’t exist yet train
Is there something faster than the Maglev? Maybe in the near future! If you check out this link, you can read about some of the super-fast trains that are bound for China!

Those are some train types in China! Stay tuned for more information about hard sleepers, hard seats, and so on.

火车就是我在中国最喜欢的交通方式。坐火车很经济,相比坐飞机在火车上可以看到更美的风景。如果你计划旅行的时间足够的话,我建议你坐火车。

我最近去中国的西边旅行,也坐了很久的火车:36个小时从上海到西宁,21个小时从西宁到拉萨,48个小时从拉萨到上海。我在中国期间也坐了中国所有的火车类型(甚至上海的磁悬浮)。我以后会写到关于火车更详细的文章,但是现在我主要是稍微描写一下中国有什么样的火车。

快车
快车有两个模式:高铁与动车。这两个火车都很快,也把中国的城市、首都连在了一起。从上海到重庆就有!

高铁跟动车的区别来自哪里呢?动车是稍微老一点的,也比高铁稍微慢一点。高铁比较新的,也比动车稍微贵一点。比方说现在坐高铁从杭州到上海只要花45分钟或一个小时,二等座的票要73块钱。动车要花一个小时或一个半小时到上海,但是票只要49块钱。区别不大,但是还是值得考虑的。但是说完这些,要说动车的票比较少,所以比较难买到。

快车最大的好处当然就是速度,你到你的目的地更快。热水器和卫生间比较干净。缺点(对一些人来说)就是别的游客没有那么乐意跟你聊天。但是,说实话,这个也算是一个好处。

慢车
慢的火车有好几个类型。有T火车,有K火车,有Z火车,也有“没有字母,只有很多数字”的火车。这种火车可以过夜,也有好几种车厢:卧铺,软卧,硬座,软座(但是不要被骗了,软座也没有那么软)。

T与Z火车比较快一点点,但是K也还可以。“没有字母只有很多数字”的火车肯定是最慢的,但是按照你的出发点与目的地,你可能也没有其他选择。大部分订火车票的地方会给你看每一个车有几个小时到目的地。

如果我要去比较远的地方,我其实很喜欢慢车。游客可以聊天,你可以见到各种各样的人,也可以看风景慢慢的改变。但是如果你要去稍微近点的地方, 我并不建议你坐慢车。去那么近坐那么慢的车会让人疯掉。

运气好的话,你可以避免L火车。这就是一个超级老的模板,也只是偶尔在新疆用的。有多么老呢?“空调”只是一个风扇挂在车顶上。热水器还是烧煤炭的。我个人感觉很了不起,所以很有味道,但是如果能选其他火车,我肯定会选T或者Z。

超级快车
这就是磁悬浮。这辆车超过300公里的时速。现在只有上海有,也把机场与城市中心连起来了。你什么时候应该坐呢?哎哟,就坐吧!那么快的火车是一个很难忘的体验。

那这就是中国的一些火车。我下次会讲火车的卧铺,软卧,硬座等方面的特点。